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Transparency in Music – Powered by Blockchain

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Date and time
Tuesday, December 06, 2016

File sharing and streaming services have changed the way we listen to -- and pay for -- our favorite tunes. However, this distribution model has created a less-than-transparent system of how artists and rights holders are being compensated. That’s where blockchain technology comes in. MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge brought together the people leading the charge of new music rights and distribution models including the .bc, or “dot Blockchain" music format. Together the panelists— George Howard, Dan Harple, Panos Panay, and Benji Rogers—are creating a holistic approach to thinking about the music ecosystem and how rights owners should be compensated – particularly in an environment that can offer only micropayments for each particular performance.

Founder and CEO, Context Labs
Panos is the founder and current Managing Director of the Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE) as well as a passionate entrepreneur, educator and startup mentor. As the founder of Sonicbids, he created the leading platform for bands to book gigs and market themselves online, building a subscriber network of 550,000 bands and 35,000 promoters from over 100 countries. He led the company as CEO for 13 years, from its inception until after its successful acquisition in a deal backed by Guggenheim Partners. Panos is also the co-founder of the Open Music Initiative, which has brought together over 140 leading music, media, technology industry organizations and academic institutions to create a blockchain-based open protocol for uniform identification of musical rights owners and creators. At Berklee, his work and approach to entrepreneurial and innovation pedagogy builds heavily on the concepts of music thinking, and in particular jazz, as a catalyst for creative breakthroughs in business, life and art; and has spearheaded multi-disciplinary collaborations between Berklee and MIT; the design firm IDEO; and Brown University. He writes frequently about startups and entrepreneurship for blogs and publications such as Forbes, WSJ Accelerators and Fast Company; and guest lectures and speaks at many universities and events around the world. Awards include: Fast Company's "Fast 50" honor; Inc Magazine's "Inc 500”; Mass Hi-Tech All Stars; Berklee College’s Distinguished Alumnus Award; and Boston Business Journal’s “40 under 40” and BostInno's 50 on Fire. Sonicbids and Panos were also profiled in a chapter in the Financial Times-published book "Outsmart" by best-selling author Jim Champy. Passion point: reaffirming the value of contemporary music education in a fast-paced, globalized technology driven world.
Benji Rogers is a British-born, New York-based entrepreneur, technologist, musician, and the founder of Pledge Music. An early pioneer of the direct artist-to-fan model of distributing music, Rogers founded Pledge Music based on the belief that artists should share the process of their artistic output, not just the finished product. Straddling the worlds of technology and music, Rogers uses his dual background to advise a range of tech and music companies on how to bridge the divide between their industries. To address the unique challenges facing artists releasing their work in the digital economy, Rogers also co-founded the Dot Blockchain Music Project, an attempt to create a decentralized global registry of music rights using blockchain technology that will overhaul the commercialization and movement of music online. In addition to these projects and his ongoing role with Pledge, Rogers is also an instructor at Berklee College of Music on digital trends and strategies in the industry. A dedicated patron of arts and creativity in all its forms, Rogers’ work is rooted in a belief in the democratizing power of the internet; he will always be “loving your work.”
George Howard is an associate professor of management at Berklee College of Music. Howard is the COO of Norton, LLC, the parent company of Wolfgang's Vault, Daytrotter, Concert Vault, and Paste Magazine. He has managed Carly Simon, a Grammy- and Oscar-winning singer-songwriter, and advised Mark Isham, a Grammy- and Emmy-winning composer. Through his consulting firm, Howard has advised companies from a wide range of sectors on strategy and technology. Howard was an original founder of TuneCore, and was the president of Rykodisc. He lives with his wife and two children in Marblehead, Massachusetts, and Martha's Vineyard. He has written a number of books on the music industry, including Getting Signed! An Insider's Guide to the Record Industry and Music Publishing 101.