Using Blockchain to Secure Band Names: Good idea? Bad idea?

We’ve talked in this space about blockchain as a tool for tracking royalties, copyright information and as a method for musicians to connect directly with fans in a direct and secure way. It’s a young technology with nearly limitless possibilities when it comes to revolutionizing the industry. One possible use for blockchain, as discussed recently, is focused on helping bands not only secure their correct and complete payment, but their very name.
Barney Wragg, a former executive with EMI, UMG and Really Useful Music Group, has launched Bandnamevault.com, a website that uses blockchain to ensure band or performer names are not already in use and ensuring duplicates are not in play. Upon paying a $15 registration fee, artists can lock down their desired name and ensure no other group or individual tries to use it. All of this circumvents possible future legal battles—think Bush X or the Charlatans UK from the 90s—without having to file for a formal trademark.

Upon purchase and registration, a band’s name is published and verified within 30 minutes, MusicBusinessWorldwide.com reports. “Bandnamevault.com combines our own smart technology and the proven benefits of blockchain to solve an issue for artists that has caused conflict for as long as anyone can remember,” Wragg says. Built on the bitcoin blockchain and using the Tierion engine, BandNameVault.com uses “hash encryption technology to overcome the limited space available” on the bitcoin system to ensure all names registered there are irrefutable.

“There has been a lot of talk and excitement about the blockchain in the music industry but no one has to date really figured out how to practically apply it or commercialize it,” Wragg says. “Bandnamevault.com combines our own smart technology and the proven benefits of the blockchain to solve an issue for artists that has caused conflict for as long as anyone can remember… All of these records will be protected for all time and can be independently verified any time in the future. This gives a full and detailed record of prior use of that name.”

Those who pay attention to things blockchain related are notoriously skeptical. And kind of argumentative. There’s tremendous potential here, but it’s new and highly competitive as various blockchain-related constructs are being presented and vying for dominance in the music world.

Over at the Register, Andrew Orlowski asks whether this idea is the worst idea ever to be presented in relation to blockchain.

When Orlowski and the Register reached out to Wragg to ask whether the band’s name, registered on BandNameVault, should also be trademark protected, Wragg responded by saying that while a trademark “does offer a full set of legal protections and licensing opportunities that our simple registration serve does not…a trademark application in multiple countries and multiple categories will cost several thousand pounds. This is a huge burden which almost no band starting out can afford.”

In other words, registering a name on Wragg’s service won’t override the need for a trademark.

“If you have a worse business idea that uses the bitcoin ledge, we’d love to hear it,” Orlowski writes.
As of late Saturday night, there were 390 votes indicating BandNameVault.com was the worst blockchain-related idea ever; 100 voters disagreed.

Amber Healy

I write about music policy and lawsuits because they're endlessly fascinating.

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