UREEQA — 2021: The Foundational Year
We launched our URQA token on March 31 of this year.
As we approach the end of our first calendar year of operations in the crypto space, we thought it was important to pause, take a step back and look at what we have built in this foundational year.
Here is what we see when we step back from the day-to-day grind and soak in the bigger picture.
As a society we have found many ways to divide ourselves (gender, ethnicity, income levels, etc.). The one thing that unites us as humans is our common love for creative work. We all love to listen to music, read a book or watch a movie for example.
Yet the people who create these works get ripped off every day. A recent study showed that 85% of the images on the internet were used without permission.
UREEQA was created to protect and empower creators.
Our vision was so inspiring that assembling a world class team and Advisory Board was much easier than we thought.
Our Founders include a gold medalist from the same university Vitalik Buterin went to, the person named Canadian Corporate Lawyer of the Year, a former Partner at an international accounting firm, and a former CIO at a division of a Global Fortune 500 company.
Our Advisory Board includes two partners at one of the top talent agencies in Los Angeles, the President of the American Recording Academy, a former VP IT at SOCAN and the President of a company providing services to musicians from Elton John to Ariana Grande.
Complementing this, a veteran leadership team runs the day-to-day operations at UREEQA — they possess the broad operational skills and hands-on experience needed to bring the company’s solutions to the marketplace.
During our foundational year, the NFT market experienced explosive growth.
From $67 million in 2020, the total NFT sales in 2021 (up to December 2) grew to a staggering $11.8B.
While everyone was busy chasing these new shiny objects and building marketplaces to sell them, we were focused on a bigger picture. One that should help power a more sophisticated and responsible NFT ecosystem as future use cases emerge when the current sugar high wears off.
We got some flack from our community as new NFT collections emerged, as new marketplaces were deployed yet we stayed on course, focusing our efforts on the infrastructure and platform below:
We also filed five patent and six trademark applications to protect this end-to-end platform which provides protection and monetization of creative work in a hybrid centralized and decentralized way.
A certain aspect of centralization was important as the current legal framework involves humans who make rulings in matters relating to copyright ownership.
While all proof we provide to creators is on-chain and will survive our existence, our network of validators are humans who use our centralized portal to perform the work to ascertain the ownership, authorship and originality of submitted work.
We launched a marketplace and did several drops for rappers including Benny the Butcher and Dave East, as well as MLB All-Star, Trey Mancini.
This gave us the end-to-end experience we needed to support NFT marketplaces and provide them with comprehensive validation service options. It was all part of our bigger picture.
Now that the foundation has been poured, we are ready to pursue the following three lines of business:
There is an agreement between 179 countries called the Berne Convention that says you don’t actually need to formally file for copyright protection; instead, you automatically get it when you create the work and fix it in some form (e.g., mp3 for music, pdf for book, etc.).
Getting protection was never the issue. Proving it is.
For this reason, many countries, including the UK, don’t have national copyright registries because you don’t really need one.
Others, like the US, have a national registry that clearly states they don’t verify ownership, authorship or originality of the submitted works.
602.4(D) No Searches or Comparison of Works
After three — six months, you get a piece of paper saying you claimed the copyright as yours.
This is where our platform can be a game changer, as we currently offer the same functionality as national registries for free at UREEQA.com.
You simply create an account, login and upload your work. Simple.
Our Batch TimestampTM system compiles all the works filed that day, hashes them individually (with a secret code) along with claimant’s names into one master file, writing a hash of that file to the blockchain.
For free — and in less than a day — you can have proof on-chain that you claimed the work as yours on that specific date.
We also provide tools that will allow you to prove this claim even if we cease to exist.
If you want a more robust claim, for a nominal fee you can opt for our dedicated staked claim where you can provide supporting documents, multiple creator names and more. This claim is written to the blockchain in less than a minute.
While we support Ethereum and are cautiously optimistic for the improvements that will come with Ethereum 2.0, we are also beginning to support other EVM-compatible chains and layer-2 solutions including Polygon, Binance Smart Chain and Avalanche.
We will be elephant hunting, targeting those 179 countries — taking them from an archaic (or no) national registry to a state-of-the-art system based on blockchain.
We will also be going after groups and associations of creators to provide preferential terms on our blockchain-based copyright system.
VaaS — Validation as a Service
This is where our platform blows past the limitations of current registries and provides creators with a compelling Package of ProofTM for their work that can be accessed online with the underlying proof being on-chain.
While current systems simply allow creators to claim the work as theirs, through UREEQA’s validation service our global group of validators work to ascertain the ownership, authorship and originality of submitted work.
If successful, the creator gets a Master Validated NFT on-chain and a Package of ProofTM (like this) that can be used to play offense and defense. Armed with this protection, the creator is then empowered to more easily pursue monetization deals.
With the explosion of NFTs, trust gaps have been formed.
Creators have their work ripped off every day and buyers often buy fraudulent NFTs with no recourse.
Our validation service and Package of ProofTM protect both creators and purchasers, allowing them to transact with confidence.
Our Redemption Center allows NFT terms to be transparently hashed into the collectibles so buyers can prove the rights that are conveyed with their purchase. Current and prospective NFT owners can also connect or enter the NFT details to see what utility items have been redeemed. If an NFT also comes with a free VIP experience, would you pay the same if the owner already redeemed that benefit?
All UREEQA minted collectible NFTs are backed by a Master Validated NFT representing the creator’s rights to the underlying work (the image, video clip, etc.) and a compelling Package of ProofTM. Our NFT Authenticator can be used to verify these details.
This validation system, process and toolset allows us to offer Validation-as-a-Service (VaaS) to NFT marketplaces around the world. We are currently in discussions with a few smaller marketplaces and one large organization that represents a collection of recognizable names. These efforts will continue in 2022.
MPA — Music Publishing Administration
As we grew past the Founding group, we were fortunate enough to meet and attract some truly exceptional people.
Scot McCracken, who heads up our Music Division, is one of those people.
Scot has managed many famous artists and groups including 98 Degrees, Fugees and Black Eyed Peas.
Scot was responsible for shaping our approach to music publishing admin “collection services” and helped us structure a compelling service offering for songwriters and composers.
A Publishing Administrator collects revenue for songwriters from a variety of sources. Every territory around the globe has different requirements for accessing and receiving publishing revenue which requires a local presence in the territory. Without an MPA deal, songwriters would be missing a significant portion of their royalties.
Why would a songwriter pay us to collect their revenue? Unlike other pub admins, we can provide services to protect songwriters’ intellectual property, as well as provide advice/guidance on issuing NFTs, and our best-in-class back-end system.
UREEQA will also be investing in select songs, enabling songwriters to accept some or all of their payment in URQA tokens, enabling them to participate in our high-return staking pools. We’ll also make a portion of the royalties we secure available for investment to a decentralized group of supporters (spoiler alert: info about this coming VERY SOON).
We have all our infrastructure and agreements in place and have started to sign songwriters and composers up to the service. These announcements should start being released in January.
In addition to this, UREEQA’s MPA team is already setting up songwriter camps in LA and Las Vegas to provide additional opportunities to our songwriter clients to maximize their earning potential, while locking down longer collection terms (insuring 6 years of collection rights).
This is the elephant in the room. Our token price sucks. We have been heads-down building and haven’t been doing enough to tell the world about it.
We understand the following formula in crypto:
Quality * Token Utility * Marketing * Liquidity = Price Action
While there are certainly lots of great projects and teams in this space, it is also quite common to forego quality and sell project tokens at high valuations with a solid influencer marketing strategy and deep liquidity options.
Our approach has always been more methodical and focused on sustainability. That’s why we worked with one of Canada’s largest law firms and did KYC / subscription documents when we launched our token. This decision cost us more and raised us less but it was the right thing to do if we aim to be around for the long-term.
With this update, we hope you agree that the quality of our team and platform is something to be proud of.
In terms of token utility, we have set the stage for tiered ownership levels which will receive varying levels of benefits as our lines of business start firing. The Discord channels for these tiers are being setup and should be engaged early in the New Year.
We also have token holders in mind as we structure deals in our lines of business.
We are no more than a few weeks away from providing early access to special music NFTs to our top token holders. We know we need to add utility and we are working on it.
Marketing has been underwhelming from us this year. We focused so much on building and were waiting for perfection before posting while other projects would tease well before tech was even built. We kissed many frogs in the space promising great marketing services and have decided that for long-term sustainability, marketing excellence has to be built in-house with key outsourced components. Chainlink, for example, is an aspirational marketing powerhouse. We will work in 2022 on bolstering our marketing capabilities.
Liquidity is an issue and while we wait in the queue for a large Tier 1 listing, we hope to have other options available in the near future.
The road to building a solid project in this space is challenging. I remember this project and this one. Zoom out and look at the charts. I gave up on one but fortunately held the other (I really regret giving up on that second project before it fired on all cylinders!).
Will we do the same? That, we can’t guarantee. All we can promise is to keep building, improving and communicating.