UC Law SF Communications and Entertainment Journal


Chelsea Cohen


For decades, songwriters have been short changed in their music royalties and copyright splits. This Note explores the historical inequity between songwriters and their counterparts—labels and recording artists—in royalty receipts, and potential methods by which this wrong may be righted in the next iteration of the internet, Web 3.0. Battles of the past can serve as a frame of reference in evaluating how songwriters will be compensated in Web 3.0. Tech companies cannot have a free pass to disregard licensing laws in the name of fast profits. This Note analyzes how music will be consumed and profited off of in Web 3.0. It compares and contrasts issues that songwriters have been confronted with in the past in an effort to prevent history repeating itself. Rather, songwriters need to embrace Web 3.0 and the digital age of interactive music. The possibilities to level the playing field in music licensing are more likely than ever. Blockchain possesses the ability to track the data that current organizations and regulatory bodies lack the bandwidth to accomplish, and thus give hope to streamlining music licensing and collection of royalties. Moreover, with the decentralization of Web 3.0, more autonomy is given to the individual user as opposed to single corporate entities, offering advantages to songwriters trying to profit from their work. However, despite the developing opportunities, necessary government intervention and oversight will be necessary for songwriters to truly be protected in this new digital landscape. This Note offers a means by which blockchain can best be put to work to benefit songwriters in Web 3.0.