Berklee College of Music has joined forces with the NEAR Foundation to develop an app named RAIDAR (Rights and Asset Information in Decentralised, Authoritative Repositories). This innovative app utilises NEAR blockchain technology, known for its speed and cost-effectiveness, and aims to create a platform where musicians can buy and sell music licences seamlessly.
RAIDAR is envisioned as a marketplace where musicians can upload their music along with essential metadata, allowing creators in need of music for their projects, whether it’s for films, games, or advertising, to easily licence music from Berklee students. Transactions on this platform are securely recorded on the NEAR blockchain, ensuring the legal and accurate representation of creators’ works through smart contracts. These contracts simplify the licensing process and ensure musicians receive due credit and economic value for their creations.
RAIDAR offers a user-friendly approach for musicians and customers alike. Musicians can effortlessly upload their music files and metadata using a mobile- and desktop-friendly web app. The uploaded songs are then represented by unique and secure smart contracts, assigning them to the creator’s wallet as assets or NFTs. This empowers creators to access and showcase their songs with ease.
Customers, on the other hand, can browse, search, filter, and preview songs available on the RAIDAR app, posted by other users, and then purchase single-use licences for their chosen music. Once a purchase is complete, the song’s smart contract disburses funds to the music’s creator, and the buyer receives an email containing the song download link and a copy of the licence agreement.
RAIDAR is a groundbreaking product that aims to democratise the music industry, placing creators at the forefront and protecting them from exploitation. According to George Howard, professor of music business at Berklee, “This is a first-of-its-kind product that will help to democratise the world of music by putting creators first and ensuring they are always rewarded and protected from exploitation for their original work.” He highlights the opportunities RAIDAR offers for those seeking music licences for their projects, providing them access to an exciting and user-friendly marketplace.
Berklee has long championed a more open and transparent music business, aiming to give artists greater control over their music, data, and careers. In 2016, Berklee initiated the Open Music Initiative (OMI) alongside industry giants like Netflix and YouTube. The primary goal of OMI was to address the problematic transfer of music metadata, which includes vital information about an artist’s work and the individuals involved in its creation. OMI sought to standardise protocols for copyright attribution and royalty allocation, aiming to eliminate the complexities in licensing deals and intermediaries, which often resulted in incorrect royalty statements and lost earnings for artists.
RAIDAR, Berklee’s new licensing platform developed in collaboration with OMI, is a practical implementation of OMI’s values and technical principles. Using blockchain technology and designed with the assistance of MIT Connection Technology, RAIDAR enables Berklee students to licence their music to visual-media students at other educational institutions. Currently piloted with Lesley University’s digital-filmmaking program, RAIDAR has plans to expand its services to other film schools and various markets, including virtual reality and video games.
RAIDAR utilises smart contracts, self-executing agreements that activate when specific conditions are met, effectively removing the need for costly intermediaries. Unlike traditional music libraries, RAIDAR does not act as a publisher or take a percentage of its users’ earnings. Artists and rights-holders maintain full control over their music and earn money whenever their songs are used.
Berklee students and alumni have played a significant role in RAIDAR’s development. They have worked closely with MIT to design and code the project, integrating it with Berklee’s identity-validation system and creating the user-experience design for educational materials. Their involvement has been instrumental in RAIDAR’s success, and their contribution has demonstrated the importance of hands-on experience in learning.
George Howard and Nicole d’Avis, co-founders of RAIDAR, highlight its distinctive features and problem-solving capabilities. RAIDAR is unique in that it leverages the current state of blockchain technology to address specific issues in the music industry. It provides a decentralised, immutable ledger for Berklee students to establish ownership of their work, facilitating dispute resolution. Additionally, RAIDAR offers a disintermediated licensing platform, enabling Berklee students and others to efficiently licence their music with minimal transaction costs.
RAIDAR represents a significant step towards empowering artists and fostering transparency in the music industry. It offers creators control over their music valuation, usage, and data, allowing them to access their followers and fans directly. As part of the Open Music network, RAIDAR is committed to making the entire platform transparent, accessible, and comprehensible to students, alumni, and other artists.
RAIDAR is a direct outcome of OMI’s purpose, aiming to provide an interoperable technological solution that aligns with OMI’s values. As the platform expands, its developers plan to add new features such as consumer-to-creator messaging, smart search and tagging, a blockchain-based payment-distribution platform, and identity verification through an artist-centred platform. These developments will further enhance the platform’s functionality and user experience.
The success of RAIDAR is defined by students earning income through their music, increased demand for Berklee music from consumers, and students’ confidence in their understanding of copyright and the value of their music. RAIDAR is already considered a success, with students playing a crucial role in its development and continued growth.
The partnership between Berklee and the NEAR Foundation has yielded RAIDAR, a game-changing platform in the music industry. By providing a user-friendly marketplace for musicians to licence their music, RAIDAR empowers artists and ensures their fair compensation. With student involvement at its core, RAIDAR exemplifies the potential of blockchain technology in fostering transparency and empowering creators in the music business. The platform’s future looks promising, with plans to expand its services to various markets and continuously enhance its features.