Music Streamer Spotify Buys Blockchain Startup

Announcements, Blockchain, FinTech, Innovation, Investing, News, Regulation | April 26, 2017 By:

Brooklyn-based startup Mediachain Labs has been acquired by music streamer Spotify. The deal terms were not disclosed.

Mediachain Labs personnel will join Spotify’s New York office to work on blockchain technology to connect artists and other rights holders with music streamed on the Spotify service. Mediachain has developed a peer-to-peer database to connect applications with media and its attendant information and a cryptocurrency token to reward rights-holders and artists.

The move will help Spotify in its ongoing effort to identify and compensate rights holders. Last year, Spotify settled a licensing lawsuit with the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) in the U.S. over unpaid royalties. NMPA alleged Spotify had failed to obtain mechanical licenses – the copyright holder’s underlying rights to reproduce music works – for songs on its network. Spotify settled the lawsuit for an amount more than $20 million and paid a $5 million penalty.

The payment issue isn’t just Spotify’s problem – many streaming services have difficulty determining who should be paid, as there is no overall copyright database. Mediachain has previously stated it intends to build a decentralized data layer so that rights holders can be identified more easily.

Mediachain executives includes Arkadiy Kukarkin, formerly of music aggregator Hype Machine; and Jesse Walden, who ran an artist management firm whose clients included Blood Orange, Solange Knowles, and Majical Cloudz.  Mediachain investors include Union Square Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz.