Building The Future of Music Ownership On-Chain

  • Provenance / Hashing & Signing the .WAV: One way royal assets prove origination, provenance, and artist ownership (in this case I prove my ownership of the Worst Case audio) is by hashing the highest resolution export of the song, the .wav file that comes straight out of any DAW (digital audio workstation). In this instance I sign that hash with 3lau.eth — my public Ethereum wallet address, as a means of autographing the token. We took inspiration here from the original cryptopunks contract, which contained a hash of the image file of all 10,000 unique crypto punks, as opposed to pointing each token id to an individual image hosted on the decentralized web. In the future, we believe multiple artists & collaborators may want to tokenize their specific rights in a song; this method is can be utilized to distinguish between duplicate issuances of the same record! Check the code for more easter eggs ;)
  • Unique Album Art: The first royal LDA — Worst Case — features 333 unique versions of the original album artwork for the song. We know collectors love to display their ownership, so naturally we’re excited to experiment with multiple visual representations of album artwork as we work with other artists to tokenize their music.
  • But Where’s the Audio? There isn’t an obvious listening solution or display layer for proving ownership of a music NFT. At royal, we care most about artists sharing ownership of their music with listeners & supporters, and that ownership is somewhat distinct from listenability. While there is no widely accepted IP precedent for tokenizing music, record labels, publishing companies and other rights holders could require prohibitive clearances before permitting audio playback in the meta-data of tokens themselves. Artists have many different rights structures, and we are prioritizing the compatibility of royal with as many artists as possible (independent or signed).
  • Utility: Owning royal assets can unlock a number of features for artists in the future. From tickets to live events, to unlockable content, the possibilities are endless. In the short term, both the royal & 3LAU discord servers will have a “Worst Case” exclusive channel that can only be accessed by users who own the asset. Thankfully, the web3 community has built many tools surrounding asset utility, and we’re lucky to integrate a lot of these open source technologies into royal assets in the future. For those who are familiar with my Ultraviolet Album drop, I actually hosted two of the auction winners backstage with me at EDC Las Vegas this past weekend. We’re just scratching the surface of adding real utility to digital ownership!
  • Rights Assignment: The royal team + external counsel worked for months on establishing a precedent for assigning rights in music to token holders. Keep in mind this is just our first take, and these agreements will evolve substantially & take more crypto-native shape over time (signing agreements w/ your wallet etc.). In the future, artists will be able to use royal’s contract architecture to assign all kinds of rights, but we felt an easy first step was focusing on streaming rights, a category that is directly influenced by listeners & easily accounted for. You can find the agreement on the royal.io edition page, and also in the token metadata, but here’s a link for quick reference.
  • Tiers: The first royal assets for Worst Case represent a single tier, but in the future, we think artists will want to mint multiple tiers of ownership in their music with different privileges. Access is a huge part of our mission at royal, and we think it would be unfair to price-out certain buyers from participating in the ecosystem we’re building. Our future tier architecture is another reason why we chose to mint via ERC-1155 on our first pass.
  • Treasury Contract + KYC Whitelist: Royal’s initial contract architecture has 3 components. The 1155 minting contract, a treasury / dispersement smart contract, and a KYC whitelist registry contract. So how do token holders claim their rights in music as songs begin to generate revenue off-chain? When an artist receives royalties from streaming services, they agree to pay token holders’ share into a treasury contract. Holders then have the ability to claim their pro-rata income on a monthly or quarterly schedule (depending on when artist receives payments) In the future, when music streaming creates on-chain revenue, the distribution to treasury contracts will be automatic, and we’re certainly excited for that future; huge shout out to Audius for paving the way! [For the purposes of clarity, royal is building tools to assign royalties that are generated by the content itself on streaming platforms, secondary sales royalties is a separate matter.]

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