One of the main activities we’ve been engaged in since receiving our grant from the Australia Council is in-depth research to metadata processes for independent labels and publishers of all sizes, as well as managers and individual artists.
A big part of this research process has been assisted by Ellie Rennie, a Professor at RMIT University, Melbourne and expert in blockchain-based governance models.
Here are four insightful takeaways that Ellie highlights in a recent blog post:
- Metadata is jointly produced and changes over time.
- Even for those actors with good intentions (including independent record labels), multiple points of failure are occurring.
- The systems used to store metadata don’t talk to each other.
- Knowledge of how metadata should best be handled resides with labels, technology companies, DSPs etc. and not with artists. This creates opportunities for exploitation.
While many points were somewhat obvious to us before beginning this phase of our research, the width and depth of the issues was revealed during our extensive interviews. Conducted as academic ethnographic research, our hours-long interviews are transcribed, recorded and synthesised from many different perspectives. These ideas and innovations are mapped as commonalities without losing the delicacy and insight of individual experience, often leading to innovative new approaches to system design, governance and more. To quote Ellie:
Knowledge about why metadata matters does not reach artists, and often neither does the metadata itself, which results in financial dis-empowerment. The conversations between Merida and artists typically ended up with her answering questions as they began to grasp the importance of metadata and how little they knew.
Ellie explores how these issues with metadata management could be solved by innovative governance models occurring in the emerging web3 space:
Envoke’s discovery process has led them away from seeing blockchain as “eliminating the intermediaries” to creating new tools for overcoming coordination problems. The major labels have found ways to extract value from system failures (intentional or otherwise) which make it hard for musicians and smaller players to get metadata right. Once we diagnose the problem as a metadata and system coordination failure that is exploitable with enough capital and power, then creating blockchain platforms that favour new forms of capital and power is not the path forward. The correct response is governance.
We are currently exploring potential governance models with a number of technology partners and look forward to sharing our findings in the near future. Learn more about Ellie’s conclusions in her Medium blog.