Here Todd J. Alexander discusses the challenges of implementing new technologies like Blockchain and, in particular, VR, and the need for those operating within the music economy to work together to develop a foundation on which to build these technologies in the coming years.
Guest Post by Todd J. Alexander on Medium
In early 2015 I attended an academia discussion at the University of Colorado Law Center that was arranged by the US Copyright Register, Maria Pallante, and Silicon Flatirons. Everyone from Jared Grusd, former General Council at Spotify, to Michael Fricklas, Executive VP at Viacom, and Aloe Blacc were in attendance to discuss how innovation of content distribution could affect the world of media and law.These conferences are boring to many but I was very grateful to discover the Silicon Flatiron initiative as it serves of very great importance to the evolution of our society.
With my former publishing company’s RIAA certified Gold “Stanky Legg” plaque lost in transition and my experience as an executive in governance, M&A, management consulting, and enterprise software, this was simply a continuation of my research and development started in 2009, right after I felt the first-hand effect of the impact the Internet and new “naked” media formats had on the creative economy.
You see, in 2008, with full ownership rights to the song “Stanky Legg” I distributed it digitally through IODA, now the Orchard, which was somehow lost in the later transition from independence to a Sony/ATV deal. The day after the Stanky Legg hit iTunes in October of 2008 I got a call from my IODA account manager at around 10pm who stated, excitingly, that the Stanky Legg has had over 50,000 downloads in the first hour of release. So what happened? Lost. I successfully had distributed and promoted the Stanky Legg all around the world and was elated to even see my publishing company’s name on the charts in Billboard magazine. Hard work, blood, sweat, and tears. Yet and still, lost in the world of digital.
This was a meeting of the minds who sat in the ultimate change agent seats of the conundrum of our current “broken” Internet content system, as labeled by the US Copyright Office in a report released in 2014 called “Copyright and the Music Marketplace” and referred to as the “broken music licensing framework”.
When it was my turn to speak, I blurted out, sort of irritated, my frustration with hearing the same solutions over the past 8 years and that I had printed and digested a DRM patent Apple filed a month earlier on the flight to Colorado called “Decoupling Rights in a Digital Content Unit from Download“ that looked much like a similar solution I tried to promulgate unsuccessfully through a startup I established in 2009 called Registr8. Registr8 was praised by David Cohen of TechStars as he saw a way it could work with NextBigSound as well as people like TC Thompkins (former VP of Sony) who became a seed investor. The truth being, the market just wasn’t ready for it yet and I didn’t have the right technology and team behind it. But even more irritating was the fact that Apple was trying to patent P2P content exchange methods that would be walled inside their ecosystem; to drive Apple device sales, ultimately risking continuing the damage to the open sharing economy that dominates today.
But in 2012, after venturing into the industrial sector as an information systems auditor and enterprise governance software professional, where I designed a Gartner award winning IT/OT compliance and auditing automation software, I discovered the blockchain. During the same time I continued to conduct private consulting with Universal and Warner Music on several projects which assisted in hands-on research and experiments (sorry UMG and Warner).
This was the protocol solution I had been searching for [for] the last 3 years. Finally. The response from the panel after my irritated and blount rant was pleasant, but we were directed by the panel to a USC study that was being done on Bitcoin and blockchain technologies for the US Copyright Office’s efforts in solving the industry’s problems. This is when a problem uncovered years earlier once again surfaced clear as day; the wars and confusion between industries and even the industry’s internal initiative failures, because of the difference in languages and beliefs, continues to stop us from evolving and reviving the creative economy.
In the recent spotlight that has been placed on the music industry problems, Silicon Valley, the Government, and the Blockchain, we are more than ever in a critical point for the need of transformation from competition to cooperation with each other. A big challenge to all of us harmonizing is that we all speak different languages and we all have different needs. Although, it is obvious that we all want the same thing; to increase the consumer’s spending in both online and offline channels that provide equal value to all parties involved. Benji Rogers, Founder and CEO of PledgeMusic.com, also made brilliant points on fair trade; an integral part of that universal “want”. Everything else falls in line, so there’s no need to list the rest the wants. For instance, providing a consumer experience of equal value to the media asking price. Consumers will only spend if the experience makes sense for the value trade. So this could go on.
But even in a world where technology has brought people closer from around the globe, there seems to be so many mixed feelings as to the good that it is doing and can do in the future. To “fix” the music industry over the last 10 years we’ve heard everything from “exclusivity” to “blockchain” and “bitcoin”. And as a tech and media professional but also a GRC (governance, risk management, and compliance) professional I would have to say that I agree with a statement from that Silicon Flatirons discussion, “The blockchain is NOT a silver bullet.” If we are to shut the door on the blockchain as a silver bullet, then what other technologies can we look to? There is one, but it’s not a technology, it’s a principal. A principal that only a few see as one but the masses understand as goggles and gloves; virtual reality.
I spent several years in comprehensive study of concepts, methodologies, and solutions to the digital economy’s issues and stumbled upon virtual reality when studying teleology and Henri Bergson, author of the Creative Evolution and famous French philosopher of the early 1900’s. Henri Bergson had a word in edge wise about virtuality; a term we modernized into a market product and concept called“virtual reality” kind of like we did with “cloud” and “IoT”. Henri Bergson and several others built upon the conception that virtuality is “reality that is ideal, but nonetheless real”; authentic.
One area of discussion with everyday consumers that we’ve had raving excitement around is what we have been doing with Virtual Reality and sound at EDL; something we coined VR 2.0.
As virtual reality hardware sits in the whim, with analysts wondering when it will hit the market by storm, no one has yet brought a profitable model to market. And with the hardware approach, I wouldn’t sit around and wait. But for years, from the barracks, academia and far-sighted experts have tried to correct our base of understanding of VR to a second definition in context to communication and experience, not simply the VR hardware, but medium of the experience (i.e. goggles and gloves). The average person believes a virtual reality is just a type of hardware medium and not a type of experience. To bring VR into the world for the greatest positive impact on the markets and economy we must understand the “experience” part of VR defined in telepresence and communication. This is what will spring us into the future of the virtual reality market we all have been waiting on.
But with the mass belief that Virtual Reality is hardware we must start to refer to the new understanding of virtual reality as something new. We also need more people people in technology, communications, and other industries talking more about it. Like the Internet world does with new standards and technology concepts, we’re going to call this Virtual Reality 2.0 or VR 2.0.
Implementation of the VR 2.0 telepresence experience with sound would later birth implications on several markets such as health and banking. (Yeah, banking takes the backseat to the music industry. :-) YouVisit is already taking the first steps in an attempt to bring VR 2.0 to the media market in live concerts and show tours. Although, YouVisit is accomplishing this through goggles and video. The question is does it meet the standards for characteristics of VR 2.0? In argument, one may say that virtual reality is 3D and sound is not 3D. Well, there are many who would love to discuss that as well (more on that later).
Nevertheless, when we bring VR 2.0 to the round-table we stop debating over the details and focus on one over-arching issue we have with the consumers and within our global logistical supply chain; communication.
The Blockchain hammer has been since applied to industries in discussion and has simply been a theory and an idea. Platforms like Ascribe and Factom have the right intent, but have faced many challenges to gaining consumer traction. But this is old technology that has been around for years. How hard can it really be? Our Co-Founder, Bryce Weiner, received a wink of appreciation from MIT in his recent statement backing this fact. The truth is we aren’t missing the hammer, we are missing the people (lawyers, governors, all people globally, etc.) that aren’t filled with greed or ego trying to become the next Steve Jobs and make a million bucks or the people that are against warring against the next and creating nothing but “grounded exchange” (more on this later) in all that they do.
There are those in the music industry who have stepped up to evangelize the blockchain and even VR and AR and how it could be the foundation of the new music economy; yet there has been no proof-of-concept or comprehensive structure or approach proposed that has touched on the most important aspects of how something like this could work. But not just work, gain mass consumer adoption and scale without failing. And better yet many have not had success in employing the right people who actually could bring such an idea to reality (no pun intended). That is because it is going to take all of us. And until we all step up, we all fall down.
Our private team at EDL has been working privately with so many experts and tens of thousands of everyday consumers where we have researched and studied consumer behavior in the market, the emotional experience of media and how it all effects the perceived value of media to the consumer. This has been the ultimate elephant in the room. The truth is that EDL is just a laboratory of a world class team about harmony, truth, and virtue. We are also what we call “360 inventors” that have for the last 20 years invented some of the top technologies you use today; hired privately and in confidence of our assignments. In the end, no matter experience or skill, if the character doesn’t fit the bill of virtue and harmony, it won’t work in this new world of exchange.
Over the last year or so, EDL has developed and tested the base methodology and technology protocols that have been privately reviewed and approved by consensus in tiers (everyone responsible for their part; I’ll explain later) and will soon be open sourced for mass consensus on all aspects of it. The protocol or organizational structure was designed so it cannot have competitors and by that I don’t mean we have the “best”. I literally mean the protocols framework is for everyone to own and benefit from. And even better, it’s nothing new, only innovation. Currently, we have been quite private about most of the details and our tremendous progress, as the amount of code, documentation, research, partners and activity has amassed to a point of no return as the bridges to the new world order are built for et al.
Over the next 1–2 weeks, I will be publishing more of the stories of the last 7 years, revealing all slowly (some exciting announcements) and the journey to harmonize the world of industry, Silicon Valley, and Bitcoin/Blockchain that has brought us to 2016, the year the music economy will usher in VR 2.0 and the most talked about new technology protocol; blockchain 2.0.
Buckle your seat belts!