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Royal Launches Marketplace to Buy and Sell Music Rights

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Imagine a platform where fans can buy and sell streaming rights from the music they love, as easily as buying a stock on an investing site like Robinhood. This is the vision of Web3 music platform Royal, which today announces a music rights marketplace.

Founded by DJ and producer Justin Blau, Royal launched in January 2022 with high-profile NFT drops from Nas, Diplo and The Chainsmokers. The platform allows fans and investors to earn a percentage of streaming royalties alongside the artists. Thus far, the platform says it has paid out $100,000 to holders.

After proving the concept works, Blau says Royal is growing into its bigger vision. “The drops were very much a beta,” he tells Billboard. “We needed to show that you could actually pay out royalties in an efficient manner on chain … The next piece is the tradability of these assets.”

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Royal’s marketplace allows fans to buy and sell music rights directly on the website. It includes a ‘portfolio’ where fans can manage their collection, track the performance of their assets and connect to a bank account. Since the beginning, Royal has worked to hide the crypto technology that underpins the platform, and that same Web2.5 philosophy applies to the new marketplace.

“You can buy and sell these things and never see crypto if you don’t want to,” Blau says.

Royal sees music as a rapidly growing asset class with global music revenues hitting $26 billion in 2021, according to IFPI. And while streaming accounts for 65% of recorded music revenue — also via IFPI — most of the value is locked up in legacy music companies and investment firms. “The private markets have controlled all the value in music rights,” says Blau. “It’s not moving between artists and fans, it’s moving between institutions.”

The concept of Royal’s marketplace is to unlock some of that value and let fans participate.

“If you’re a fan and you own a piece of a song and it comes on the radio, there’s something really special about saying you own that.”

Hanging over this announcement, however, is a lawsuit served to Blau over an $11 million NFT auction connected to his Ultraviolet album in 2021. Songwriter Luna Aura — who says she owns a 50% royalty share in one of the tracks on the album — claims she was not adequately compensated from the NFT sale.

Blau could not offer further comment on the details of the lawsuit, but did say the experience of releasing the Ultraviolet NFT and navigating IP laws with 21 other artists informed how they built Royal.

In the coming weeks, the platform will also host more than a dozen new drops from independent artists, starting today with Bingo Players & Zookëper and their new single “Bathroom Line,” followed by “I’ll Wait” by Madison Ryann Ward, as well as music from Yemi Alade, 27Delly and Matt Cooper.

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