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Creating a definitive record of music rights is complex, with multiple stakeholders involved. Establishing a single database had proved historically difficult, as there was no overall single point of control.

When songs and catalogues switch ownership, when there are multiple credits and complex ownership (as is now often the case), and even when songs are sampled or mashed up, Blokur can track, identify and accurately reconcile rights attribution over time and over multiple iterations.

Blokur’s technology reconciles rights from across the range of stakeholders, displaying this information on a public blockchain as a tamper-proof source of truth for all the relevant writers and publishers.

Solving complexity, determining accuracy

Blokur’s founders were introduced to Digital Catapult through mutual contacts in the creative industry and together worked on a joint funding bid for an InnovateUK 18-month research project.

The initial project was to develop a cheaper and more scalable way of writing data to the Ethereum blockchain (a public blockchain network), an undertaking which proved to be successful.

Digital Catapult worked with Blokur to develop an open-source solution for approximate graph search, known as Fornax, which would be essential to Blokur’s ability to identify and reconcile attribution and rights.

For example, a track like Uptown Funk has multiple writers with an ownership stake (in this case, twelve), some of whom may also have stage names, and who are each represented by different companies and publishers. All this information needs to be accurately pieced together to distribute royalty payments in accordance with ownership rights. However complex and numerous the references may be, Fornax uses contextual information, and compares and combines data in order to correctly determine who should be paid what.

Providing and supporting access to funding of £1.5 million in venture capital funding

As well as working with Digital Catapult’s technical team and developers, and learning how to best approach formal user testing, Blokur benefitted from the commercial skills and contacts that Digital Catapult shared. With support from Digital Catapult, Blokur’s experience of putting together an application for funding, and fulfilling the associated requirements for financial modelling, due diligence and meeting requirements for external oversight proved to be valuable – as well as successful.

Delivering a real-world commercial solution

One of the most satisfying aspects for Blokur is that all the work it has undertaken so far is now in commercial use, translating into real and financial benefits for it, and the companies and customers using the platform. Phil Barry, founder and CEO of Blokur, has spoken at a number of Digital Catapult hosted events, including the launch of the Blockchain in Action report in 2019, helping to raise Blokur’s profile with investors and partners.