Former Worldwide Chairman/CEO Warner/Chappell Richard Blackstone Joins eMusic Advisory Board

A former music attorney, Richard Blackstone decided early he preferred working hands-on in the business of music making. Soon, his career brought him to take on leadership roles at Warner/Chappell, BMG, Avex International, and Zomba Music. Even as a leader, he was always careful to remain close to the creative side of his business, which, in one instance, made for a unique business card (from his story below). Without a doubt, Richard’s input will be key in bringing our Blockchain Project to the mainstream music industry, from both creative and business perspectives. We are pleased to introduce him to our community with this interview.

Richard Blackstone: Through a dear friend of mine. He and I are both interested in tech, and while we’re old enough to believe that we understand the past, we have a desire to be part of the future.

To that end, I try to find new technologies that touch upon familiar areas for me. That gives me some basis from which to connect to the discussion, as opposed to knowing nothing. The fact that this project is in the music space made it immediately interesting to me.

Richard: I started in the industry representing artists as an attorney. Early on, I went inside a company called Zomba to see how companies operate, a small independent company that grew to be large and successful, and instead of a short term academic experience, I ended up loving working with the team — and the artists and the writers — and I ended up staying until the company was sold to BMG. I started as the director of business affairs, or the in-house lawyer and dealmaker. I later held additional responsibilities as head of creative. At one point, my business card read “Head of Business, Head of Creative” on two separate lines. Awkward as a card. Wonderful as a job.

Richard: What resonates with me at eMusic is that there’s a core foundation of truth and transparency and it’s quite simple. And it’s something that I strive for in all aspects of my life and would expect it to be in my business life as well. Business for me ends up being my personal life, because there are people I do business with who started out as friends, and many people I do business with end up being my friends. I define success in my business by the strength of the relationships I have built.

“What resonates with me at eMusic is that there’s a core foundation of truth and transparency and it’s quite simple. And it’s something that I strive for in all aspects of my life and would expect it to be in my business life as well.”

eMusic: So what is your experience with blockchain technology?

Richard: I have been involved with blockchain peripherally, thinking about the idea of blockchain. However, I am not a technologist. I would never pretend to deeply understand the creation of it, the execution of it and that is, in part, why I am here: I have a genuine interest to learn more. I’ve learned a fair amount about the applications of blockchain, and friends of mine have been helpful in teaching me more. Blockchain has been on my mind for several years and it’s exciting to be involved with a company that will allow me to work so closely with it.

Richard: They appear to be focused on artist rights and giving creators greater control over the monetization of their work. Having watched a lot of music companies see the changing tides and not react to them, I appreciate that eMusic is trying to evolve and be a relevant part of the future.

Richard: All those parts of the project are luxuries and aspects that all would be lovely to have, but the necessity lies within the accurate establishment of ownership and policing the uses of the music and the ability then for the writers, producers, and artists and additional rights holders to be paid. That to me is the core aspect of this project. I think the other things are extremely wonderful and will help support the blockchain being a part of our lives, but the basic need is for there to be a transparent ease of flow of information and therefore attribution of ownership on a global basis across all forms of uses. That’s what I would love to see. It’s what many people would love to see. There a many reasons why this has been difficult to achieve thus far and blockchain doesn’t fix many of those challenges. We, as an industry, need to work harder to collaborate and ease the way for complete and accurate ownership data.The problems have been systematic. It’s not a design to attack a particular artist or entity. What gives me hope is to see that consumer behavior has evolved sufficiently to accept the idea that we can move in this direction. There’s a time and a place for everything. We are now at a turning point where people are open to the idea of relying on new systems and not continuing to put Band-Aids on top of old systems, but actually build new systems and migrate to them, brining greater ease and efficiency to all those involved.

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