Blockchain firm JAAK makes key hires ahead of first product launch in 2019

Click here to view original content at

Blockchain rights startup JAAK has made several senior appointments ahead of its first commercial release set for in 2019.

Spotify’s former artist-in-residence D.A.Wallach and David King, inventor of YouTube’s Content ID join as advisors, while UMPG’s Dom Lovett joins full time.

According to JAAK, its first commercial product will lower the barriers to music innovation by ‘simplifying the licensing and back-office processes for music rights holders and developers’.

The aim is to encourage new and varied music services to launch.

In May 2018, JAAK launched a music pilot where partners including BMG, Global Music Rights, Red Bull Media House, Sentric, Warner Music Group, and Warner/Chappell Music, contributed music rights information, metadata, and audio assets to a private sandbox.

A similar pilot for the film and TV industries is being developed.

Wallach, who was Spotify’s artist-in-residence for four years and is currently a solo artist who toured with acclaimed artists like N*E*R*D and Lady Gaga, penned the influential essay Bitcoin for Rockstars, advocating for a decentralised solution to the spiralling rights management problem.

David King, meanwhile, is known for inventing and building YouTube’s Content ID system, which identifies, manages, and monetizes copyrights in user-generated content on the platform.

Following his recent work with the United Nations and the World Intellectual Property Office on digital infrastructure for copyright holders, King will advise on refining JAAK’s product strategy and furthering its commercial partnerships.

Vaughn McKenzie-Landell, Jaak

Alongside Wallach and King, JAAK have made five new hires.

Dom Lovett joins as Head of Music Copyright after a decade with Universal Music Publishing Group.

Before UMPG, Lovett held roles at BMG, Zomba, and MCPS.

Meanwhile, Hari Ashurst-Venn will focus on developing commercial partnerships. He was previously head of creative services for the emerging DSP Lucid Tunes and founded the influential indie label Double Denim Records.

Furthermore, JAAK have hired Entrepreneur First member Alina Colceag and Samir Rashed as product designers. Samir joins following a UX product manager role at school leaver network Alumnet.

Finally, Philippe Rixhon, a research fellow at UCL Centre for Blockchain, will be briefing JAAK on developments in copyright policy.

D.A. Wallach said: “When I, years ago, conceived of a global metadata and payments platform built on blockchain technology I was hoping that this might once and for all cut through the intense global disorganization in the music business that bedevils artists who merely want to get paid fairly for their work.

I am still hopeful that a combination of streaming platforms, decentralized databases, and payment networks can deliver on this promise.

“The industry we should all want is one in which artists are paid transparently and instantaneously when listeners enjoy their music. Facilitating this eminently achievable vision will become a competitive necessity for rights holders seeking to attract the best talent.

“I’m excited to advise JAAK because they are taking a comprehensive and practical view to building core infrastructure for the future of the industry. Their seriousness and focus set them apart.”

King said: “Now that most music fans have switched to digital it’s time for the industry to come together around more flexible and scalable licensing solutions, making sure that consumers have a wide variety of platforms to choose from.

“JAAK have remarkable leadership and a mastery of all the latest technologies that are best suited to meeting these market challenges.

“I’m excited to join their team and to participate in developing the next generation of the music business.”

JAAK CEO Vaughn McKenzie-Landell added: “Tackling such a complex problem with new technology requires not just incredibly talented people but also voices, ideas, and experiences from businesses across the entire supply chain – including creators.

“D.A. and David’s insight and experience increase the effectiveness of our efforts and the depth of our relationships. Combined with Dom, Hari, Alina, Samir, and Philippe, our team integrates deep expertise in rights administration, copyright policy, and creator services with digital infrastructure, royalty payments, content identification, distributed systems, and product design.

“We share the belief that rights can and will be unified across shared, decentralised infrastructure and we’re assembling a team capable of delivering that vision.”