Sunday, September 02, 2007

Why Not Use Watermarking To FAIRLY Tag & Track Music?

Maybe many of you have already thought about this type of a technological solution to the dilemma of smaller and indie artists never showing up in ASCAP's or BMI's periodic samples for music performance royalties - but wouldn't it be ironic if the growing anti-piracy trend to dynamically filter uploads to YouTube and MySpace (and the recent proliferation of audio watermarking efforts from companies like Activated Content which are quickly becoming the new and improved DRM) became instead - the new standard to accurately and fairly track public performances? Forget bar codes, ISRC codes and acoustic fingerprinting for a minute....


The global music industry could feasibly migrate from piracy to promotion to payments...


Think about it...if suing customers is not the real savior of the floundering music industry that the RIAA hoped it would be...then perhaps a technology that's mostly associated with crackdowns on music and movie pirates could instead be used to help longtail artists actually get paid when their music is played...Sounds crazy, right....? Well, maybe not......


DISCLAIMER: I acknowledge that it would be incredibly cost prohibitive and resource intensive to re-encode the world's library of previously recorded music with watermarks and add additional metadata to all the content closely guarded in the label's vaults, so for simplicity's sake, let's assume that I could wave a magic wand through legislation [or magic] and declare that all new music released from Jan. 1, 2008, ----in the U.S. to start--- would have a unique and inaudible identifier embedded into the actual audio file. It would then be up to the owner of each individual file produced and subsequently released into the market to put his/her tracking information into the file and register with an overseeing entity if he/she wants to get paid for actual usage. Tiered royalty rates could then be paid out for different use cases like streaming, legal and p2p downloading and even analog transmissions, etc....All this with a 1-to-1 ratio with NO SAMPLING.


Hobbyists and professional musicians that use software like Digidesign, Apple, Logic, Cakewalk etc. could all easily access this type of technology as a plug-in and then the traditional studios and mastering houses could also make this a standard part of their "service." Within a year or two, all new music released in the U.S. would easily be identifiable when it was used on the radio, television, cellular networks and the internet - and then ALL artists (big and small) could get paid proportionately. WOW, what a concept!!!!!


Then Congress and major organizations like NARAS, AES, CEA and all the PRO's would quickly endorse it, because it's the law and it's so easy and it makes's completely fair........ :-)


OK, that's my pontification for the day. Anybody want to help me build such a system?


Enjoy your 3 day weekend!!


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