Brave New World: Blockchain & The Future of IP


So those of you who’ve been with me for a long time really should have something better to do by now will know that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and talking about IP and business models as it pertains to the music industry specifically, and the media industry more broadly.

While that has been going on, you’ve probably also heard about Bitcoin. Bitcoin is made possible by the underlying technology which is called Blockchain. Think of it like a universal ledger for every Bitcoin in existence – the currency cannot change hands without that ledger being updated globally. It is – based on our current knowledge of how it works and attempts to circumvent it – impossible to defraud.

Bitcoin could not exist without blockchain, but now that it does, the things we can apply it to extend far beyond the financial world. To that end, I’ve submitted a talk to SXSW where I want to explore how blockchain works and how we can apply it to managing intellectual property. This of course begins in my mind with music, but can be applied to movies, books, even things like files for 3D printing at home (thanks to Jodie Fox for that thought).

If that sounds interesting, I’d love it if you would vote for my submission in the SXSW Panel Picker. It is quick and easy to do, and improves my chances of being able to get along and share this idea.

Thanks – and see you in Austin!

Whatever gets you true

I’m reading Ed Catmull’s Creativity, Inc. at the moment, all about Pixar, what he has learned in running it over the course of the last 20-plus years. He is incredibly candid, funny and humble, even after all he has achieved, and I could not recommend the book more.

Last night the chapter I was reading saw him talking about reading a slew of management books as he grappled with trying to figure out how to run Pixar in its first incarnation as a high-end computer hardware company. Loaded with advice and aphorisms that were lauded by the business world, the fell flat for him when he tried to apply them to his own business. Focus, focus, focus? ON WHAT?!

Similarly, advice he sought from friends who ran other similar companies steered him down dead-ends, which continued to happen until he started to trust his own instincts.

You see where I’m going with this.

We’ve no shortage of advice on hand these days, from the hubris of Silicon Valley where dictums rain down from kids still closer to their 20th birthdays than their 30th, to MBAs, to all the books that have rolled along since Ed was first trying to figure things out for himself. And it’s all great, but so many people (myself included at times) fall into thinking our own experience is universal, our own point of view can be applied anywhere. And the older I get, the less true that is.

I was talking to an aspiring planner a couple weeks back, and she asked what she could do to be a better planner. I’m short on advice as I feel like I’m figuring it out every day, but I told her not to worry about being the smartest, just the most curious. I quoted the Manic Street Preachers as I am want to do, this is my truth, tell me yours.

Truths, not truth. These things were true for a moment in time for a given person or group of people. My friend Nick published a great piece called “30 things I’ve learned” which you should go and read. It’s great, but they are 30 things that work for him. They may work for you too. They may not work at all. They are truths, they are not truth (save for his opening one – sadly we will all die).

Having said all of that, remember: all of the above is just my truth.

You need to find your own.

(Originally posted at Notes On A Revolution)

Do do do

We tend to celebrate first loves. In memories, in films, in music. Our first love carries with it an almost mythical status, like once upon a time we managed to bottle lightning for what seemed like an eternity in the moment. We lionize heartache, the grieving process. It leads us into stupid arguments with friends over how King of Wishful Thinking is the greatest one-hit-wonder song of all time. Cultural significance for its placement in Pretty Woman aside, I know people who weren’t alive when the movie came out that can sing it word for word. It is infinitely relatable.

I think first loves are a crock.

Rather, I think the celebrating thereof is just nonsense. What we’re celebrating is the naivety. We didn’t know any better. We didn’t know there was something to lose, and even if we did, we were sure it would never be lost.

I don’t think there’s anything particularly romantic about first loves. I think it’s important for everyone to get their heart broken. It is an experience that ages and hardens and weakens and puts chinks in your armor that you are better served for having, that makes you better at life. I’m fine with celebrating the misery that comes with it.

I think falling in love for the second time (or third, or however many laps you’ve done around your heart’s own sun) is far more romantic. When you go in knowing what the stakes are, knowing how bad it could be, and you still do it anyway. You sign up for the potential of loss, of tears, of wearing all your friends out. To be only too aware of all that, and to still be able to look at somebody and figure they’re worth the chance? How do you even articulate that? Perhaps that’s why we don’t often write songs about it, first loves are too easily qualified, the second time around a socially-acceptable form of emotional suicide.

To quote the Boss, how much of that was I thinking about at the time? None of it. How much was I feeling at the time? All of it. In hindsight I figured there was something interesting in writing about the first throes of romantic bliss, and then pairing it with the anxiety, the fear of rejection, that secret surety we all have at times that once someone really knows us they couldn’t still possibly love us. To work through all that, and to grit your teeth and say “Ok” to that anyway. That takes guts – and I think it is wildly romantic.

Anyway, happy Valentine’s Day.


Do do do goes the beat of my heart
No longer falling apart
no more seasons for rain’
No more secrets, no more pain
Why are you so surprised?
Did you never see the look in my eyes?
That’s your smile sinking in
That’s your touch on my skin
Are my feet on the ground?
Are you coming around?
And all that I am now
I am lost, yeah I am found

Do do do says the sign on my door
Do not disturb this heart no more
Do not reach for the stairs
Do not look you won’t find me there
Got my feet on the ground
Oh and I’m running now
Don’t know where but I’m heading out
I am lost, I don’t like it how

All of my life I’ve been taking it down
Just afraid what I’d find And afraid that I’m out
Of my mind and then some, Hell I can’t get enough
So get me the bottle, Got a hit of that bitter stuff
All of my life I’ve been making it up
And I don’t know how I could ever get enough
So I’m taking it down To the here and now
And I’ll let you in If you let me out

With you
Oh with you
Oh with you
Oh with you
With you

First posted here.