The Dot Blockchain Music Project Alpha Release - (dotBC Update #4)

Benji Rogers
Aug 25, 2016 · 12 min read

Today we are pleased to write that our little experiment is finally ready to have the lid lifted on it, and as such we are delighted to share this update with you. This post is based on our co-founder Chris’s excellent deck and anyone who wishes can now access the initial alpha code for what we have been working on in GitHub.

What we released today is phase 1 of a 3 phased process that will pave the way towards what I have been banging on about for almost a year and which when completed could lead to a globally decentralized database of music rights.

dotBC Project Goals

In this initial version of dotBC we are delivering a file bundling prototype to create a “song_name.bc file,” a prototype of a registry of minimum viable data via the Bitcoin blockchain, and a set of plug-in prototypes that demonstrate the plug-in architecture we envision to allow for interoperability across interested participants.

Development has been tightly focused on a set of goals (summarized above) and, as such we feel that phase one will get the right minds around the technology architecture’s potential as we move towards phases two and three and a larger deployment. At all times we have kept publicly available minimum viable data and maximum interoperability as our guiding light.

In addition to the project scope below we will also be posting regular updates for interested partners and existing signups to the email list as well as some webinars for those who want more of a technical deep dive.

dotBC Project Scope

Project Scope:

  1. File format — the basic Alpha app can accept media files and add basic data that follow the rules of our proposed minimum viable data in the form of digital contracts. This means in essence that a sound recording of a song can be bundled and anchored to it’s rights. As I have explained before, dotBC has two modes, Registration and Distribution. Registration requires only a sound recording, one writer, one performer and the song name. Registration will require only a sound recording, one writer, one performer and the song name where as Distribution will require a more involved set of data that will be familiar to most reading this. A full minimum viable data document for both states will be published shortly and added to GitHub and the website.
dotBC File Format

Bundler App

2. This Alpha release app will be desktop and Mac only in this initial roll out. It is deliberately bare bones and will provide users with a suggested work flow and user interface. This UI will also be open source and so can of course be changed and or rewritten to suit the work flow needs of the end user. This architecture provides the data linkage between plugins to the music bundles contained within the system.

dotBC Bundler App

3. Cloud Data Plugins — In this initial roll out we have written rudimentary (not final state) data look up plugins to identify songwriters, sound recordings and ISRC’s. These are designed to illustrate how the actual plugin architecture will work around the songs registered and are not finalised. They serve more to illustrate how industry players can build plugins into the system. More below in the FAQ’s on this.

dotBC Cloud Data Plugins

4. Blockchain Plugins — Monegraph is serving as the initial bridge plugin to the bitcoin blockchain until others are written and added to the system. Using the Monegraph user interface songs can be registered with minimum viable data to the Blockchain test net and the Blockchain.

Blockchain Plugins

Project Scope Technical Detail:

Project Scope Technical Detail

As has been mentioned previously while we start to bring on partners and work on the next phases of our project for phases 2 and 3 we are open to feedback and of course if you would like a walk through or more information please let us know.

Phases 2 and 3 are where the our vision will really start to take shape with input from the music community. We are excited to release our alpha code to make sure that all has been done in a transparent and open way, and look forward to your feedback and ongoing support.

Below are some FAQ’s to which we have written answers. A more detailed FAQ will be posted shortly on our website, including many of the questions from our industry friends and loved ones.

Thanks for coming along for the ride so far.

Loving your work

General FAQ’s:

I’m a songrwiter, artist, artist manager, musician, producer, engineer — how can I get involved?

You can get involved by signing up to the email list here. We will keep this method of signup active through year end if not before at which point a public signup will be made available for all. If you haven’t already, please take the survey here. We are limiting access to this public alpha to known parties within the music industry to test and validate the system with its key players before opening access to the industry-at-large.

I’m a label, publisher, performing rights organization, digital service provider, artist/industry organization — how can I get involved?

You can get involved by signing up to the email list here. We will keep this method of signup active through year end if not before at which point a public signup will be made available for all. If you haven’t already, please take the survey here. We are limiting access to this public alpha to known parties within the music industry to test and validate the system with its key players before opening access to the industry-at-large.

I am a developer — how can I get access to the code base and supporting docs?

These can be found in GitHub.

Why do I need to sign up to a decentralized system through you?

We have decided to limit access to this public alpha to help verify known parties within the music industry and to test the system with its key players. This is not designed to give any company large or small any kind of advantage but to work to build a core of known works in the system. We are not limiting access to anyone, and will handle onboarding in the order that they come in post alpha launch.

What is a plugin?

Plugins are our way of describing interested parties to a song. After initial ownership is stated then various interested parties to the song can be added. Organizations like performing rights organizations, labels, publishers etc can be added as plugins as can digital service providers. Companies that manage metadata can also be added as plugins to songs. Plugins are how known parties are linked to each other in the dotBC architecture and these plugins can be assigned permissions by the owners of the songs themselves.

I would like to build a plugin? What do I need?

Everything that you need to build a plugin should be in GitHub. We are here to assist with this process and you can sign up here for help or information.

Can you (Dot Blockchain Music) build a plugin for me?

We are able to build these and a quote can be obtained through this form.

Someone has entered the wrong information about my song, album, catalogue etc — how can I fix it?

Incorrect information can be amended forward but never removed from the blockchain. As such changes are logged as information is improved creating a family tree of rights ownership over the course of a song’s life. If someone has entered information incorrectly, intentionally or not then you must dispute it with that person or plugin directly. Dot Blockchain will have no authority to remove anyone or any entries within this system. The process for making claims will be part of Phases 2 & 3 and will allow participants to connect with each other through our proposed user interface or through their own. This is a feature and not a bug.

I have a large catalogue — can you help me get it into the dotBC format?

Yes. One of the ways that Dot Blockchain will monetize is to offer this service alongside other companies (who will also have equal access to the code base, plugins architecture and UI) and so should you wish for us to work on this with you a quote can be had here. As our community of partners grows, we recommend that you also get quotes from other users of the system and Dot Blockchain Music will soon offer and maintain a running list of partners who offer this as a service on its website under the “Partners” Tab.

How do I become a listed partner?

Sign up here stating that you want to be added as a partner and we will make it so. Please note that this will be public.

I am a company that manages rights for labels & or publishers- how can I get involved?

If you would like our help beyond what is in GitHub we would be more than glad to assist you with on boarding your assets and data. We can do this by either building a plugin for you or advising you on how to build one. Quotes for either can be had here.

Does Monegraph have an advantage over systems in the architecture?

Everything that has been built in support of this effort will be committed to GitHub and therefore anyone can build a system to compete with Monegraph, Dot Blockchain Music or any other party to the system.

What can I do in this first Alpha release?

You will be able to create dotBC bundles by adding songs and their data one at a time, perform look ups against 2–3 demo plugins and using Monegraph’s API add dotBCs to the test net and bitcoin blockchain. The next two phases will bring increased functionality but for now this is to assess feedback, and to make sure that this can work for all. Note: Monegraph will be the first plugin to write to the Blockchain but this does not preclude others from being written to do that same job. Further to this since the UI is also open sourced we highly encourage companies to build their own entry points into the system according to the MVD requirements for registration and distribution.

How does dotblockchain make money?

As a public benefit corporation we intend to make money by charging to build plugins, data entry, memberships, licensing, coding, advocacy, and consultancy — noting that no less than 5% and up to 25% of any money made goes towards education and or charities that benefit the musical ecosystem.

If dotblockchain music fails what happens to all of the data I entered?

Once the alpha period is over dot blockchain will no longer be able to “hand out keys” or dictate any rule changes to the system. These will have to be proposed and adopted by its users or members. So if dot blockchain fails the system survives. This is a feature and not a bug.

Why do I have to enter both performer and writer information?

At the heart of the system is marrying this basic information with a sound recording and a title. This means that if all else was wrong an interested party could reach the basic truth of who started the song on its journey through the system.

Where can I find the dotBC code?

See GitHub.

Why is the UI (user interface) also open sourced?

So that anyone can build their own on-ramp to the system.

Why open source?

We felt that this was the fairest way to make sure that nobody could be excluded and that this was the fastest way to drive adoption and innovation.

I have entered the wrong information to the Blockchain can I delete it?

No. Data written to the blockchain in this iteration is permanent and so can not be removed. They can however be amended forward in the work flow in the form of an immutable change log. This is most definitley a feature and not a bug.

What is minimum amount of data required for “registration?”

In order to encourage adoption we have set the MVD threshold to ‘anchor’ / register a as song as:

  • Song Name
  • One writer
  • One performer
  • Recording of the song in some form

The intention here is to plant the seed from which the data tree can grow and as the plugins surround the song the data tree is added as more truth and nuance becomes available.

What is minimum amount of data required for “distribution/broadcast?”

We are currently finalizing an initial minimum viable dataset, and will be making this available shortly in GitHub.

Is dotblockchain DDEX compatible?

Yes — Dot Blockchains code base provides for a DDEX minimum to be applied to songs post registration and before distribution. Full details will be posted to Github shortly.

What is the perfect amount of information for a dotBC file?

In addition to the MVD for either registration or distribution as much correct information as possible. We view perfection as and are striving to get to a verified association of ISRC, ISWC & relevant set of ISNIs for each and every work for registration purposes. And a fully DDEX compliant metadata set across performance and composition for file delivery.

I’m a writer but don’t have a recording of the final song can I still register it?

The dotBC architecture is predicated on a recording of the song in some fashion being a part of the registration. It can be a demo, an early mix or the finished master. Other version can be added over time to the dotBC file as it’s journey to “distribution/broadcast” continues.

As a musician can I add myself to a sound recording in the dotBC system?

Yes you can. There is a field in the dotblockchain UI that allows for “contributors” to a work to be specified and added.

Can I specify or propose song splits on works that are already in the system?

Yes. In version 2 you will have the ability to propose adding yourself and your proposed split as a writer to an existing work in the system.

What is there to stop people from uploading my music and claiming it as their own?

In version 2 alongside the current Spotify lookup, the dotblockchain system will scan against previous databases of work just prior to upload. This would make it harder (though not impossible) to get an existing work into the architecture a second time or to falsely claim it. E.g. if you were to attempt to upload a song that was already in the system and dotblockchain identified the track you would be asked whether you wish to make a claim on it, as a collaborator, owner etc. Entry to the system will be provided to authenticated users, not the general public. This is not a wiki environment and as such it is also worth bearing in mind that those who would falsely claim to own a work in this system would be doing so publicly to all of their peers and in such a way that could not be removed.

What kinds of rights can I attach to my songs?

In phase 2 we will be adding the ability to enter more nuanced notes and smart contract fields. These would be where things as detailed as how much songs could be licensed for, where songs cannot be played (eg political conventions etc) and anything else that the rights holders wish to add.

Note the such entries would not be in and of themselves legally binding but would require users of the system to work with each other to create governance rules.

Can I use this system to get paid?

In these initial phases DotBlockchain will focus solely on registration and identification.

Will you be adding other formats? Books, Films etc?

Nothing is impossible. It just costs more.


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Benji Rogers

Written by

Co-founder of dotBlockchain Media, PledgeMusic & Lark42. Coffee Drinker & Frequent Flyer.