SIAE, the Italian Society of Authors and Publishers, participates at Midem 2019, bringing the expertise of a 137-year-old history in copyright administration. We talked with Matteo Fedeli, SIAE Director of Music Division, about technology and expectations for the future of copyright intermediation, ahead of the blockchain-focused session this Thursday.

midemblog: SIAE is one of the oldest collecting societies, and its prestige is widely recognised, being 6th in the world for copyright revenues. How do you conciliate your history with the industry’s need for innovation?

SIAE’s payoff “on the side of creators” carries a mission: protecting creators through the best available means, which shall be efficient and secure. In 2015 we started a process of digitalization, investing 28.7M € in IT. Our Digital Agenda has led in 2018 to develop the first app for iOs & Android, and today more than 75% of these interactions occur via web/app.


> Innovation entails both challenges and opportunities, as the title of your Midem session on the 6th June: «SIAE and Blockchain: Big change or big chance?» suggests. What is SIAE’s position in this respect?

One could think of SIAE and Blockchain as “the odd couple”: the former is an intermediary, while the latter is grounded on the concept of disintermediation via a distributed ledger technology. In fact, this is an opportunity to serve our members with better services and at lower costs. Businesses are not black boxes, and one must always keep an eye outside the window, and anticipating changes (maybe we are Nokia and we are in 2005…). We do not want to lag behind or suffer technology; on the contrary, we must guide and orient it. That is why we are analyzing such opportunities, working with experts: Blockchain Core and University La Sapienza in Rome.


> With La Sapienza, you recently wrote a success story, announcing “Programmi Puliti”, the first SIAE patent. Why is it important?

“Programmi Puliti” helps countering the endemic phenomenon of cheating in setlists, by detecting the cases of false reporting across more than 1.4 million of setlists we process per year. Based on an innovative patented algorithm, developed after one year of collaboration with La Sapienza, this system has improved the effectiveness of controls (+610%) and increased distributions for the real right-holders (+20M € in 2 years).


> “Programmi Puliti” rests on existing technology, while blockchain apparently
belongs to a new era. Why should the music industry be interested?

Broadly speaking, blockchain decentralises asset transactions across the network, lowering costs and connecting players in the market via a distributed technology. By design, it is secure and quite hard to hack or modify. Transactions occur on mutual trust, and allegedly removing the need of institutions to control and regulate the
exchange. In the information society, we exchange copies of data, which are centralized, and easy to hack or modify. With distributed technology, we shall exchange assets, i.e. values, with data, which are unique and identifiable. This is essential for a correct copyright administration and content management in general. Each piece of protected work should be associated to standard unique identifiers, and the distributed technology connecting authors and users does alone the entire job, i.e. allowing the rights of reproduction and transferring royalties directly to a rightholder’s “wallet”.

> Which would be the benefits for the authors then? And the costs for collecting

Supposedly, higher efficiency. Disintermediation lowers transaction costs, and money would move in a quicker way; more, everything is tracked, which means authors are always in control of information. I want to be clear, blockchain will not solve all the problems, and off-chain initiatives in copyright administration will be necessary to fix the externalities of the system. It would be naive to imagine that blockchain will suddenly replace all the intermediaries. Rather, it will help them meet the goals they have set for their future: closing the value gap, fighting piracy and establishing trust between users and right-holders. The CMOs will disappear? No, I don’t think so. We need to be what CoinBase is for Bitcoin.


This is a sponsored post from SIAE

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James Martin is Head of Social Media for Midem organisers Reed MIDEM. This includes defining and rolling out Midem's social media strategy, editing midemblog, influencer outreach, developing Midem's fanbase of 75,000+ music professionals and more.

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