Benji Rogers Interview Transcription

By April 29, 2016


George Howard: Benji, how are you?

Benji Rogers: George, I’m very well. Thank You.

GH: Tell me. Give the 35 second, “Benji Rogers” Introduction.

BR: My name is Benji Rogers. I am the Founder and C…no. I’m the founder and Chief Strategy Officer of a company called, Pledge Music.

GH: You were the CEO.

BR: I was the CEO

GH: Until recently.

BR: I have a small investment company called, Radiary Creations. I’m an advisor to multiple companies, Future Music Coalition, board member. And I’m working on a project on blockchain and music, which is an equitably traded music format and theory.

GH: Believe me, we’ll get to blockchain. But before we get there…You and I, I think, tilt at a similar windmill in the sense that you said, these were your words, that we both believe that a better music business is possible and it’s driving us crazy that we haven’t achieved it yet. In your estimation or definition, what would a better music business, by the year 2020, what should the music industry look like?

BR: So I’ll tell you what it is. And I’ve had a lot of time to think about this, mostly on airplanes and shivering in fear. I came to this conclusion that, not all of, but the majority of art created is better than the technology upon which it rides today. So the tools that we’ve delivered and services are inferior to the art.

GH: I love that. The art takes prominence.

BR: And it should. And the moment…the majority of the music industry has decided this is how consumers should consume. This is how they should do it. And consumers do this very odd thing. A whole bunch of them say it’s fine, and a bunch of them say no actually not. And so the hundreds of millions, even billions, being spent trying to get consumers to do something they don’t want to really do is going to become insane. So as we move ahead, what i’m thinking is that we’ve got to start listening to what people actually want and then we’ve got to build a system of rails upon which the train to the future can run. And I believe that those are going to be basically architected from the moment a song is created to the moment it hits someone’s ears has got to be a smoother, faster, cleaner process. Otherwise, it’s screwed. And technologies like VR, AR, 360 Video, and those yet to be invented or deployed are going to come along and say, “We’re not going to go use those old ways of doing things anymore.” It will not make sense for them. They will not wait because they are going to deploy at a size and scale to a number of humans unlike anything we’ve ever seen who are internet connected and savvy and ready to go.

GH: Now let me unpack that a little bit because this is something, you said it really articulately, so arguably, with the rise of the industrial revolution, the whole idea that, “Well, you can have any color model T car, as long as it’s black.” The idea of the marketer wasn’t so much to give you what you wanted, but to convince you that you wanted the same thing that everybody else had because that’s how assembly lines scale. There’s a group of people, probably you know some of them, Doc Searls and others, and they wrote a book called the Cluetrain Manifesto, and a big part of that was this idea of “VRM.” So we’re all familiar with this idea of CRM, customer relationship management, we get our claws in you and we can manage you from cradle to the grave. And their idea was, “Well, no, let’s invert that. Let’s have it be vendor relationship management where it’s actually the customer who says, ‘Hey, here I am. This is what I want. You vendors should really be servicing me rather the other way around.’”

BR: And the beautiful part there is, if you ask someone what they want, 9 times out of 10, they’ll tell you, but no one ever does.

GH: Nobody ever asks!

BR: Yes, exactly. So there’s no one there to answer. I mean, I talked about this quite often, but I choose not to buy records in record shops on Fridays…

GH: Release day.

BR: …but that is where they are sold. So basically, the music industry got together and said, “Let’s release albums on Fridays.”

GH: Before that it was Tuesday’s. For decades.

BR: And what is so interesting about that is I don’t buy records on Fridays. When I come across something, that’s when I may choose to commit commerce with it or not, but I would say, running through Pledge, it’s happened, obviously.

GH: Give us 30 seconds on Pledge. I think it’s important.

BR: So basically, PledgeMusic operates on the premise that when an artist is creating, they’re more interesting to a whole bunch of fans then when they’re selling. So you sell someone, the ability to pre-order an album while it’s in creation. And, hey presto, that fan chooses to spend an average of $55 per transaction for a virtual good. It does not exist. So they are paying to watch it be delivered because, as my other favorite saying is, I don’t think fans or consumers need more ways to get hold of music, they need reasons, and the creation is a reason. On the Pledge side, we’ll get to a situation whereby the artist will be like, “Hey, here are 4 versions of the artwork, which one would you like?” And the consumer, or the pledger in this case, feels empowered to say, “Well, I’d like a red one or this one.” And by allowing them in, you find that they will make an additional purchase just to be part of that moment.

GH: And so many important things there for people to sort of think through. And I’m stealing this phrase from someone, you may know who, you’ve created this sort of architecture of participation. You’ve actually, sure, you and I are both fans of whatever band and we love them and if we had been invited in, and this goes to your earlier point, if we had been invited into that process, it’s like, “oh my gosh, of course!” And not only will I come in, not only will I support this over and beyond, you’re essentially creating a mechanism for people to pay more. Whereas before, if I wanted to pay REM $1,000 for their next record, I couldn’t! There was no mechanism for it. But then the other thing that you do, you’re letting people in and they have this sort of, what I call, information asymmetry. They know they’re superfans, in your words. They know more about this band than somebody else and now they’re able to sort of expose that. They want to sort of balance that.

BR: And they want to be the ones who discovered it. And they want to wear it as a badge that says, “I was there. While it was happening, I was there.”

GH: Which is the purest form of marketing.

BR: And ultimately, each of these superfans will share what they’re experiencing, in real time. So we’ve built some technology around that which helps each fan become the beacon for what the artist is doing, and they love it. The other thing that was interesting was we would find that if an item was $50, people would be pledging $75 and we couldn’t figure out why. We’re like, “What are you doing?” And for big bands, not just small bands, as well. Again, they want ways to belong. What the industry chose to do was say, “Okay, that segment of fan is out there, they’re too difficult to deal with. Let’s send them all…”

GH: And when you say, “that difficult segment there,” the superfans.

BR: The superfans, yeah. “..rather than deal with them, let’s try and send everyone to a $9.99 streaming platform, in which we don’t know who the users are, the streaming platform does, the artist is completely separated from the process, and the streaming platform then has to grow its user base in order to pay back 70% of its revenue when it eventually gets to the artist.” So I would argue that that’s been a catastrophic failure.

GH: I couldn’t agree with you more.

BR: And now hundreds of, now hundreds of millions or billions of dollars have been invested in this and it’s at a fraction of its potential. YouTube allows the consumer to also be a creator. They allow the consumer to be a participant in the, “I can take this thing, mix it up, and upload it and create this…”

GH: Well in theory, right. But, of course, there’s tons of infringement and legal issues there, and we can come to this.

BR: But I think what that is, is YouTube didn’t say, “What are those people doing? Let’s ignore that or try and stop them.” They said, “Come have at it! Let’s build.” And now they’re going to try to go back and monetize the other way.” So it’s a messy area.

GH: Do you think that was sort of a conscious thing? Or do you think there was sort of just…

BR: I think it’s Banksy principal, whereby it’s much much easier to get forgiveness than it is to get…

GH: No, no, no. I don’t mean was it a conscious business decision. I mean, was their business model predicated on this idea that there’s a tighter sort of bond when, I mean, I call it the IKEA principal, someone builds some rickety ass piece of furniture but they show all their friends because they built it. This idea that these people were remixing and uploaded user generated content, I don’t know, we could speculate forever.

BR: Cat Videos!

GH: Cat Videos.

BR: But ultimately, it’s an odd thing, I think it’s very this generational, but it’s actually extended to by, they get to see themselves on television. So you think this sort of 15 minutes of fame. But I’ve been amazed by, like, the younger kids that work with us, they use this technology absolutely fluidly. So if they’re upset about something, they’ll cry about it into a YouTube camera. With, you know, a ZAYN or One Direction song in the background, they’ll be crying in tears, that’s how they express themselves.

GH: Or on Vine or something.

BR: Nick Bilton put it best in his book, I Live in the Future and This is How It Works, is notice what they’re doing. They’re trying to get a story and when they can’t find a story, they will create or steal.

GH: Love it.

BR: And I love that thought that if you can’t find it, if you’re not providing it as a vendor, I’m going to make it or I’m going to steal it, mix it and mash it together and create my own version.

GH: And not to just keep going back to Cluetrain, but one of the things that I love about him is, it’s almost like a little zen Cohen, is “Our reach exceeds your grasp.” And the way I’ve always interpreted it that, and I could probably ask Doc, but I think of it, and I kind of don’t want to know that I’m wrong here, is “Our customers reach…our desire to build exceeds you, companies, grasp of what we might do with your product.” Right?

BR: Snapchat is one of the greatest examples.

GH: Or Twitter! I mean the hashtag was created by the users. The Twitter guys didn’t say, “Oh, let’s do a hashtag.” So our mutual friend, Andy Weissman, their whole investment thesis is to look at this sort of bottoms-up development. So to sort of bring this back to music, is that what’s happening in the sort of music realm?

BR: So Pledge is a classic example of this. When we first launched, we figured everyone would want mp3’s because they’re small. No. What unanimous feedback, from both artist and fan, was, “We want high-res.” I’m like, “Okay. Yeah. Sure.” So then we build it for that. Then they want 4K video. Then they want – So what we do is we listen to them. Now, you don’t build everything, but how in the Hell am I supposed to know what 10,000 of those men want. So occasionally, we’ll ask them. And the beautiful part of this is they will tell you. You don’t need to give them an iPad. You just need to say, “Hey do you want to make your community better for you? What would you do?”

GH: Because they feel pretty sensitive toward it. And because they feel heard. It’s gratuitous if you just say, “Hey, take this survey.” And then it’s like… but you actually listen. And there’s a conversation.

BR: And what’s wild is I tried this, actually, on a small level with my team. My team is, you know, 48-50 of us now all over the platform. And I’m not using every inch of it. So we have an innovations channel where they write in and say, you know, what’s innovation, how hard is it to implement, do you think, on a scale of 1-10, is it just awesome, is it needed, does it make revenue, does it help artists…?

GH: This is within the pledge team?

BR: Yeah. And the last 52 innovations that were submitted, 48 made it into the platform.

GH: That’s cool.

BR: Because, and our head of product, Stephen, is amazing because he said, “Well, yeah. We’re going to have 48 eyes on the problem versus maybe 2 or 3.”

GH: That’s a nice way of thinking because they have ownership on it. Basically.

BR: Correct. And then so you expand that out. In the music space, what’s fascinating to me is, you know, I loved the band, CHVRCHES. Year and a half ago, they go in the studio, they tweet and Facebook post, “I want a signed vinyl. I want one.” There was not the facility for me to buy one.

GH: No way to do it. Impossible.

BR: I emailed the label, I called the… “Please, may I?” “No, you can’t.” “Okay, well when?” “Well, it will come out on a Friday, in about a year’s time. And then you can have that.” “But how would you tell me that?” You know, I caught it on the tweet or the facebook. How will you tell me?

GH: You don’t have my email…

BR: Correct. So it came out, I listened to it 3 times on a streaming service, which means Tidal has my customer data.

GH: Exactly. The money never goes through to the band.

BR: The money goes through to the band, eventually.

GH: Maybe.

BR: If you’re lucky. Depending on how things go. And then, when they played at SX[SW], I did not know when they were playing because they didn’t vend [sell] to me, they didn’t tell me that. And I’m reaching out saying, “Well, I’m a fan. Send me the link.”

GH: You’re waving a flag. You’re self identifying.

BR: Yeah. And I have, you know, followers on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, who I would say, “Oh, look! My signed Vinyl arrived!”

GH: “Oh, look at this cool thing that I have! And maybe you should check this out.” Okay. So one of our visions, the mutual visions of how this can be better, is this sort of, you’ve described it differently, I don’t know how to put it concisely, but the VRM type thing.

BR: Yeah.

GH: One question I’ve always wanted to ask you is: How do you view Pledge, don’t take this the wrong way, how is Pledge not just another intermediary? Why does Pledge need to exist? Why can’t bands do this themselves? Systems?

BR: I think…It’s systems side. But also it’s because we’re building a community of the fans. In which…

GH: Is that true? Is there crossover?

BR: Yes. So basically what we did was we built a recommendation algorithm based on genre type, product type, and location. And thus far, it’s churning, I think it’s doing around 17% of transactions are operating through this.

GH: Meaning someone came for one thing on Pledge, and ended up buying something else.

BR: Yes.

GH: So that’s beautiful.

BR: And the goal of the overall platform is that once it gets to a large enough user base size, because we’re not…so genre’s difficult, right? Because on genre, you miss out on the collector. Because ultimately, I will buy reissues of R.E.M., I will also buy a Wagner, and I will also buy a Miles Davis. You wouldn’t know that unless…

GH: We have remarkably similar taste, but go ahead.

BR: So what’s cool is there, is we go, “Well, this person bought 2 box sets for 7 inch singles. Maybe they’d like a little bit of Megadeth on Vinyl. I don’t know.” But it will tweak it.

GH: Yes. So a couple standard deviations from the one…

BR: Correct. So you got genre type, product type, and then location, so you can get local. So you can go, “Well, you know, Minneapolis scene. So they bought ‘The Hold Steady’, they bought ‘Craig Finn’, maybe we can go ‘Honeydogs’ on them. So it goes into this weirdness, and it catches me every time.

GH: It’s interesting.

BR: I’ve even, it stopped me at David Hasselhoff, but again, I bought Michael Bolton so maybe it got me there from there, I don’t know how. But it definitely got me to Cheap Trick, which was a good thing, so draw that line. It’s an amazing one.

GH: No, I can’t! You went Crosby, to Miles Davis, R.E.M, to Hasselhoff! That’s a real standard deviation!

BR: Via the Honeydogs. But so the goal of the overall platform is… it’s a platform in which the artist can take all of their data out at any time. So we have to be good and we have to bringing value.

GH: So that’s an important point. And I think I zoned out for the… the artists can take all of their data. So you’re essentially accumulating this data, obviously you have your proprietary systems to do so, but then they can put it out in a CSV file, or whatever, and do what they will with it.

BR: They can export email address, address, phone number, and the reason for that was twofold. One of which is: we would never be trusted if we blocked that off. The second is: if we went under, they’d be screwed.

GH: Yes. MySpace fell off.

BR: And then the third is: that we have to be on it and good every time. Because they can say, “Alright. You know what, we’re going to go to KickStarter now, and IndieGoGo, we’re going to go to TopSpin, we’re going to go to…”

GH: Right. You have competition.

BR: So the goal of this is now that we’ve hit 3 million users, 50,000 artists; I want to take a brand new unknown band, drop them in, once the algorithm is perfected it will basically spin them out through the system, and fund or get that band to the next level through just our own awesomeness. And then that band can go out and sell tickets, or sell merch, it can do horrible record deals and licensing or whatever it wants to do.

GH: Whatever they want.

BR: Yeah, if they own it and we are a central place for that, it will be incredible. And I want to see the first social network do this. Whereby you can literally export all your data if you wanted to, to go somewhere else. But it has to be awesome.

GH: That was that stupid Ello or whatever that you were going to be able do that, and it never really had the network effect.

BR: It was an impossible interface as well.

GH: Just terrible.

BR: Yeah, it was really hard to use. Because Zuckerberg invested in it.

GH: Did he really?

BR: Yeah, it was that Kickstarter one wasn’t it?

GH: Yeah, Ello was the Kickstarter one.

BR: Zuckerberg put half a million into it.

GH: Well no, there was that other one…anyway

BR: Sorry Zuckerberg, you didn’t kill it.

GH: So let’s go a little more expansive. I’m trying to draw the lines between the amazing things you’re doing at Pledge, one of our shared passions now, blockchain tech, and how we make it understandable for the viewers about how that leads to a better music industry.

BR: First mile, last mile.

GH: Okay

BR: First mile to me, is the creation of rights themselves is a fascinating thing for those who want to participate in it, and it’s an extraordinary experience when the artist allows the fan to be a part of it. The creation of the music in the studio. Pledge is pre rights, they don’t exist at that point. See, I am pledging to pre order the record that you are going to go into the studio and make, and I watch you make it.

GR: I dont want to get too granular, but its pre right of the sound recording.

BR: Correct.

GH: But it’s not pre right of the copyright because likely they have these songs, but go on.

BR: What’s interesting right now is we are doing a campaign with Gary Newman, and he’s going out and recording sounds in nature that he will then bring back and that he will put into the songs and they will be created in front of people.

GH: So he will create the copyright right there, that’s remarkable.

BR: It is remarkable. And Pledge as a platform never wanted to own rights. So we would facilitate the making of these things, and then once they were out they dropped off a cliff.

GH: The releases dropped off a cliff?

BR: Yes. So when it comes out, the artist would say listen to my music on these 15 different services. And I would watch them lose the connection with every other fan all the way through, and then they would say i’ve had this number of spins but I haven’t been paid. There was this massive inefficiency. And then, there was no central place to register ownership. That was the main thing. So if you and i write a song, and you claim 75%, then I claim 75%. You go to your publisher and claim 75%, I go to mine, you go to your Performing Rights Organization (PRO), I go to mine, and they don’t know. And there’s no copy of the music they can reference to say which is which. Then what’s worse, is you send me an mp3 of the song, I go into the metadata and call it something else, and I go put it up and and I start monetizing. So what I want to help create is when you go send me the song, you have to go through a couple of steps which creates a different type of file structure. You still have mp3, you still have wav, but it’s a container. Then you have to enter in as the writer who you are, how to contact and pay you, who you are the performer, how to contact and pay you, and that information is entered into a public ledger. And the hope is all members of the music industry would run this ledger system, which is a blockchain ledger, and you would think twice I hope about perjuring yourself publicly in front of all your industry peers.

GH: Well even if you have no morals and no conscience, you would have a reputation score that you would eventually lose credibility.

BR: And also you put up how to pay you. So as a lawyer I can say hey, someone is claiming against me. And so it would scan and match against various systems now on the way up. There will be problems with it, of course, but the idea is that you send me the file, and in order to send it…

GH: So, the pronouns are confusing me. So I write a song…

BR: You and I write a song.

GH: So we’re back to the splits. So you and I jointly write a song, we’ve not apportioned the splits, but you send me a copy and say put in your metadata.

BR: So you send me your mp3 or wav, you choose to export as .bc (blockchain) and then you have to write in, it could be prefilled if it’s your work station, I’m the writer, how to contact and pay me, I’m the performer, how to contact and pay me, you could also put musicians, producers, anything you want. But the key is, in order to get it out to me it’s got to be striped with what I call minimal viable data. That means one writer and performer, and contact info, regions of availability, and song name. So that gets dropped into a repository of files. Which is like a digital library of Alexandria of the future, which is my romantic version of it, and when it lands in my inbox you get to open it up, and see George registered 75%. So I call George and say “can we talk?”

GH: Okay, so that’s important because a lot of the misnomers when I talk about blockchain is people say, “Oh what if they’re lying?”. Well that doesn’t obviate rule of law. You have to address that.

BR: Correct. But the key is, if both the PROs are running this system, and the labels, and publishers, and Spotify and everyone is running it when you and I fix it together, it’s fixed everywhere. So Spotify knows exactly what to do with it, and so does everyone else.

GH: I think we are closer on this than I thought we were before, because before we got on camera we were going back and forth. My carrot for that is what you just said. In other words, I think sometimes there’s too much idealism around the public registry, and it’s not libertarian, it’s just my free market point of view. But the only way you can induce people to do that is what your last point was. When it goes out there there’s a profit incentive.

BR: Ultimately let’s say Ford wants to come license this song under the old system, and they see you’re claiming 75%, and I’m claiming 75%, they’re done.

GH: They walk away.

BR: Meanwhile Spotify’s been monetizing it for 3 years. At 150%

GH: Dean Martin would sell off 120% of his royalties.

BR: Right. An under this system, is there’s a central place to argue, and a central place to correct. It actually creates millions of family trees.

GH: Well you keep saying there’s a central place…

BR: Well it’s a decentralized place

GH: Right, a distributed place. And I know with blockchain there’s a steep learning curve, and you and I have written ad nauseum about it and we can reference some touchstone articles about it. But when we say a distributed ledger, it’s not owned by any one person, it’s lots of computers, cpu power, that is keeping its ledger up there. I keep arguing with people on this, but I find it difficult to believe it could be taken down, or hacked because it’s so distributed. And it’s not able to be owned or controlled, like centralized ledgers like ASCAP, BMI, Harry Fox, or the Copyright office.

BR: And the interesting thing is, that your database used to be your proprietary database, so you kept it close, and that made it vulnerable to be hacked. So, the defense industry is really interested in blockchain technology. Blockchain has a lot of really cool things, but the coolest thing for me is apart from smart contracts…

GH: Yeah, that is a cool thing.

BR: Right? But the other thing, is you can’t go backwards. You can only go forwards. So it’s a change log that allows for persistence of digital information.

GH: And for the people who have a hard time getting their heads around that, so does Wikipedia. Go to Wikipedia. You can see the entire chain of edits through the whole thing.

BR: So imagine if there was ever a discrepancy between us at the publishing stage, and we say, “No, we fixed that down here”. In this system right now our publishers would have to tell our PRO’s, our PRO’s would have to go and fix it, and its 140 – 300 faxes, emails, and communications.

GH: It can’t be done.

BR: And then it changes again in Sweden, and no one knows. If everyone runs a node of this blockchain and everyone has fair access to it the current blockchain system …

GH: You’re talking about the Bitcoin Blockchain?

BR: Yeah, the Bitcoin Blockchain. Is useable for very basic smart contracts, and very basic payments, but nothing beyond that.

GH: So let’s talk briefly about smart contracts. I’ll use the analogy of Creative Commons. With a Creative Commons license you can say ‘I’m willing to let my work be remixed, so long as you give me attribution.” That’s a very frequently used Creative Commons license that gets you around one of your bundled rights, which is the right to create derivative works. So that’s fine. It’s a beautiful innovation. But the problem is, it’s not machine readable. It’s not searchable, so someone out there could find it and self execute in a way both parties are satisfied.

BR: So the other cool part would be you send me the mp3 saying I got 75%. And you write into the smart contract, it can’t go up until you’ve agreed to the split. And I say, no I’ve got 75%. So we go back and forth…

GH: It won’t execute!

BR: It won’t allow it to until we’ve reached consensus. And that’s a back and forth process that we’ll be pinging.

GH: And again that’s the market entering in to push the registry ahead. Instead of “Oh, we need a registry because that would be nice.”

BR: It would never get off the ground. So here’s the thing. Picture it. So, every single file exported from a digital audio workstation or converted into this format, auto creates a place for app developers to come and have at this file because you can create a layer that says under this many uses have at it. It’s a machine readable contract that says 10,000 uses or above? Talk to us. Or there’s another layer that sets this price, and this price.

GH: And what I would say is, although I’m tired of using this example, but say I got a taco shop, and I want to play tex-mex music, and I’m willing to pay $500 a year for that. And some tex-mex artist says “Look I’m happy to have my music used in a taco shop as long as they’re these thresholds. Above that I gotta have it self execute again.”

BR: And I think also right now most of the media files are held in 3 separate private repositories; Seven Digital, Media Net, and Omnifone. And they’re awesome and that’s their job. But I believe if we had one central place where they were accessible to all, then if Ford comes and says they want to license they can say, we want to use this song. And you can say $50,000 have at it, anything below contact us. But because you have to enter contact information at least you can get one of us, maybe two.

GH: So I question why that has to be in a central repository?

BR: It doesn’t. But I believe the industry needs it to get it done.

GH: And this is where you and I fall apart.

BR: And the reason for that is, but, but I’ll give you an example of it.  If i’m a, if i’m a  programmer kid and I want to use Adele. I have to go through an Omnifone or a Seven Digital, Media Net right now to do so. In which case I am in a sandbox license and I can’t get out of that. I can’t prove product market fit without doing that. So if we had a central open version of that which is P to P interplanetary file system is one of the more storage, Storj is another. Then they are all lying in one place and they are containers so they can recompile. So you can source the MP3, the Wave, the ACC, the high res., the low res. stems all from one central container point.

GH: But why can’t that be my, my container point?  If I’m Adele…

BR: It absolutely could.

GH: Yeah

BR: But the reason I like it in this place is I, if I want to go in and set a google alert for every time a Mexican taco music is there, I can set it and it literally, I can source it from that file. It will find me the closest version of it you are a completing a global version of it.

GH: You are in complete harmony. Complete harmony. Where I , Where I, maybe I am just misunderstanding, maybe we should move off of this but are you suggesting that all  of these files, the actual AIFF file, whatever file the format need to be housed where?  

BR: The proposition would be interplanetary file system is called, it’s basically like a global distributed dropbox. So…

GH: Who would own/control that?

BR: No one.

GH: Okay good.

BR: It’s basically a blockchain style.

GH: Got it. Okay I’m with you.

BR: It’s a hash ledger.

GH: It’s a hash ledger. That’s what’s going on but in theory you can point anywhere.

BR: This already has 3 bites of information so part of Adele would be on my computer.

GH: It’s distributed.

BR: Exactly

GH: Oh, oh, okay.

BR: And it makes it ultra quick. So in theory instead of uploading 5, 000 versions of the same song to Youtube, it’s already got it.

GH: It’s already there.

BR: So it’s iTunes match style into it. So it goes oh, we can use that and it can be monetized for this. So what that means is, if Youtube wanted to they could serve it from there. Because why would they source?

GH: No I’m with you. So

BR: This is where aetherium could be very powerful.

GH: I couldn’t agree more. Aetherium is one of those sort of contenders for this type of protocol and technology. What are the, if, I believe this is not an if but when right. And I think it will happen much sooner than most people think it will but probably not as soon as you and I want it to. Though we are both actively trying to make it happen. So actually I don’t really want to talk about the barriers. I want to talk about more what this would mean and what related elements. I mean how does this tie in with Pledge? How does this tie in with this sort of whole pastiche that is Benji Rogers work and to finish the question. Prospectively and I mean again and I like, I really want your vision of what the better music industry is maybe it’s next year. Maybe it’s four years from now.

BR: It’s first mile is all artist monetize the creation of things as they’re happening. I believe that in 2017 to source, produce, manufacture, and then sale will seem absurd. Through most of the industries. So artist need to understand that when there making things that are interesting, when they’re selling them less so.

GH: That’s a great line, that’s a great line!

BR: So,so that’s first mile and then last mile is that when they create it, it drops into this ecosystem which is owned by nobody. Controlled by everybody if you like.

GH: That’s a VRM thing.

BR:  And then what it means is, you got a scenario in which app developers can create the next facebook for music or the next thing. And they’re not constrained by, by people holding onto a dollar here and missing out on a billion dollars here.

GH: Or legislation to right?

BR:  Correct. And also I think from legislative, you know more than this than me but on the legislative side, I get the feeling that legislators look at us and go your knuckle heads. What is wrong with you? You have the stickiest medium known to humankind. It’s more addictive than tobacco and sex put together.  Every, when you’re having sex and smoking you’re listening to music. And literally it’s everywhere.  And you can’t figure this out yet.  And so one of the things that I love about it, is this has been your brain, this is has been Imogen Heap’s brain, this has been a whole bunch of people putting it together all I did is find a bit of a hack that says “Let’s purpose this technology. We can use the bitcoin chain block for this right now. Once it’s ready we can go into a better version of it or a newer version which will handle mass more contracting, mass payment organism.” But if we don’t start today, we’re just going to go, “Well, it hasn’t happened in two years, three years.”

GH: No, no I’m with you. Sorry go ahead.

BR: So there will be open source API’s(Application Program Interface). Fingers crossed in, end of May 2016. My buddy reckons it’s the end of June but I’m shooting for the end of May.  And what I want to do is work with all of the platforms and to say look Apple you use ACC’s right? Well we can have that ready for you here. You can serve it on your own. You can sync, whatever you want to do but let’s just know who to pay and how to contact them. And then what I want to do is say to platforms that want to go outside of that, is to say to them how does it disadvantage your business to know who to pay and how to pay on the composition performance?

GH: And if their answer is anything other than it doesn’t, then they’re criminals.

BR: Correct.

GH: I love that. So what is the role then of the label, the publisher, the intermediators in

this, in this vision?

BR: To me they would be, if they’re smart embrace it and a lot of them have reached out to me saying that they are. They would be, we want to get our catalogs in as quickly as possible and we want to get the biggest, quickest match of ISRC’s and ISWC’s into this database as possible. Because then all of that data flow works really nicely. But you now they should say we  want to get Youtube’s CMS all of that information into this thing as quickly as possible. Because Youtube has this remarkable change log. And they sort of log on in the system. But you make the change in Youtube then you have to go and email everybody at your PRO and say we made this change. And the PRO’s have been interested in helping. So it’s, it’s a question of when. I think we’ve got a really nice formula for it.  And I think that and I want to put this out to the community that built these systems to say okay here some API’s that will do the basic job of this. Now your job is to create the next boom, boom, boom.

GH: I think that’s right. I mean what, what  my response to people about well the blockchain is all hype or whatever. Well maybe, I don’t know. But I do know the technology and the ethos and the conversation that has arisen out of it and the technologies aren’t going back in the toothpaste container.

BR: No, no way.

GH: You know, anymore than the diamond rio MP3 player that failed led to the iPod and everything else like that. So it is…

BR: You know brought iPads into newspaper publishers and one friend, my friend Cliffany said look this is what’s coming and I said no way.

GH: No way. Impossible.

BR: You know, now can you imagine, so, so we are where we are. The other thing that will be radically altered is the way in which we interact with content on the internet is going to change. So when you write an article the ability to interact with that article financially speaking is going to be altered. So you will be able to set permissions or desires. I think obligations and permissions is the wrong sense but you will be able to say this will be my preference.

GH: Yes

BR: So if you want to remove the ads great just whack a couple of bitcoins or ethros whatever we’re going to call them at that point. You know,George coins in.

GH: Swan coins

BR: Do you have your own coin yet.

GH: No I don’t. I think the liquidity would be an issue. It’s a cool vision and, and I think it’s within our grasp right. I mean it is no longer, I was so depressed about the music industry for a long time. Just because I felt like, yeah know I don’t care how many streams Spotify does it will never make up the margin that was lost when we went from recorded music. And now I feel like it’s not just Spotify and as I steal from Andy you now he says look there shouldn’t be four streams there should be four million we should all have ours. You know, it should be this sort of flowering of stuff. And the underlying technology can be some blockchain tech related thing. I think, I like to hammer out  more at some point on sort of  I think we’re closer than I thought we were on the sort of rights database versus the commerce but to me it’s the two coming together.

BR: Correct. And what it is, it’s the ability to set rules and the content level that, that sets the transaction. So you will need a different blockchain to run that level of transaction and…

GH: And that’s okay. That’s Moore’s Law

BR: Correct and thank goodness or the other thing is you just do a fork of it and say this is what we are going to do.

GH: Which is already happened and it didn’t kill it. I mean 6 months whatever the first bitcoin fork well that’s the end. Benji you’re so great. Thank you so much for the time. Any sort of like parting words of wisdom.

BR: Loving your work

GH: Loving your work

BR: Thank you man

GH: Thank Benji

BR: Thanks mate