Mycelia is 

Founded by Imogen heap, we are a growing collective of creatives, professionals and lovers of music.

Our mission is:

+ To empower a fair, sustainable and vibrant music industry ecosystem involving all online music interaction services,

+ To unlock the huge potential for creators and their music related metadata so an entirely new commercial marketplace may flourish,

+ To ensure all involved are paid and acknowledged fully.

+ To see commercial, ethical and technical standards are set to exponentially increase innovation for the music services of the future,

+ To connect the dots with all those involved in this shift from our current outdated music industry models, exploring new technological solutions to enliven and positively impact the music ecosystem

Events on our radar

Events Mycelia speaking

Øredev Conference

26th July 2017
Mycelia is going to attend the Øredev conference. Imogen will give a talk and Perform with the Mi.Mu gloves Where: Malmö, Sweden When: 9th November More Info
Events Mycelia speaking

Vienna Music Business Research Days 2017

26th July 2017
Head of research Carlotta will take part at the “Unchaining the Digital Music Business?” Where: Vienna, Austria When: 14th September, 4pm-5pm More Info
Events Mycelia speaking

MIDEM 2017

26th July 2017
Hed of Research Carlotta will speak at the Blockchain panel Where: Cannes, France When: 8th June More Info
Events Mycelia speaking

Mycelia @ Primavera Sound 2017

26th July 2017
Imogen will have a keynote at the Primavera Sound 2017 Where: Barcelona When: 30th-31st May More Info
Events Mycelia speaking

MYCELIA @ The Great Escape

26th July 2017
Head of Research Carlotta at the Royalty conference organised by CMU will pitch the Life of a Song project Where: TGE 2017 Brighton When: 19th May More Info
Events Mycelia speaking

BETT Show 2017

24th January 2017
27 January, London. Bett Show is one of the most important conferences about education. Imogen will give a talk and perform with the Mi.Mu gloves. Find Out More


Imogen for the HBR: Blockchain Could Help Musicians Make Money Again

26th July 2017
As a musician, I want to encourage other artists to collaborate with my music. But recently, a visual artist had all of his Vimeo videos taken down for using just 30 seconds of one of my songs. The label that exclusively licenses one of my songs likely had a bot looking for copyright infringement that automatically took it down. I hear the artist now has them back online after a few weeks of hair loss and negotiations. I’d personally like to avoid these types of situations in the future, which means providing an easy way for others to license and collaborate with my music. A blockchain-empowered rights and payments layer could provide the means to do so. A major pain point for creatives in the music industry — such as songwriters, producers and musicians — is that they are the first to put in any of the work, and the last to ever see any profit. They have little to no information about how their royalty payments are calculated, and don’t get access to valuable aggregate data about how and where people are listening to their music. But a rising tide of musicians and bands are pushing toward transparency and fairness in their own ways — for example, Paul McCartney’s recent lawsuit again Sony, Duran Duran’s lost battle with Sony/ATV, and Taylor Swift’s dust-up with Spotify. It’s within this climate that an enticing seed of an idea is being planted: blockchain technology has the potential to get the music industry’s messy house in order. One of the biggest problems in the industry right now is that there’s no verified global registry of music creatives and their works. Attempts to build one have failed to the tune of millions of dollars over the years, largely at the expense of some of the collective management organizations (CMOs) — the agencies (such as ASCAP, PRS, PPL and SOCAN) who ensure that songwriters, publishers, performers, and labels are paid for the use of their music by collecting royalties on behalf of the rights owners. This has become a real issue, as evidenced by the$150 million class action law suit that Spotify is currently wrestling with. The inter-organizational cooperation that blockchain is providing for the fintech sector should inspire these “collecting societies” to use the technology to create an open (or partially open) global registry if they hope to remain relevant, which would help organize the immense amounts of new music being uploaded every day. Music creatives could build upon such a registry to directly upload new works and metadata via blockchain-verified profiles. Blockchain has the potential to provide a more quick and seamless experience for anyone involved with creating or interacting with music. For example, listening to a song might automatically trigger an agreement for everyone involved in the journey of a song with anyone who wants to interact or do business with it — whether that’s a fan, a DSP (digital service provider such as Spotify or iTunes), a radio station, or a film production crew. Where would this new music ecosystem “live”? One idea is .music, the soon-to-be-introduced and


26th July 2017
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a music-industry conference in possession of a good audience must be in want of a blockchain panel. Midem had one this morning as part of its copyright summit. Moderated by lawyer Sophie Goossens, it saw Bailer Music Publishing’s Benjamin Bailer; Sacem’s Xavier Costaz; Dot Blockchain’s Benji Rogers; Jaak’s Vaughn McKenzie; and Mycelia’s Carlotta de Ninni giving their views. Goossens sketched out the basic terminology: blockchain as a database maintained collaboratively by a number of participants, with a ‘consensus mechanism’ used for agreement on how to update that database, and complex cryptography to ensure that agreed modifications are made unchangeable, for example. She talked about open-source, public, blockchain-based distributed computing platform Ethereum, as well as the Hyper Ledger open-source collaboration hosted by the Linux Foundation; and the idea of shared processing power across a pool of ‘miners’. “Basically this is spending the energy that is necessary for the blockchain to run. Think of it as the cost of blockchain,” said Goossens. Finally: smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed to execute actions based on a set of pre-agreed rules, without possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third-party interference. De Ninni talked about Mycelia: “a growing collective of music professionals, music lovers and tech partners,” she said of the initiative founded by musician Imogen Heap. “We are like the artist voice in these kind of developments and topics. We position ourselves as researchers: we are absolutely neutral… tech-agnostic and blockchain-agnostic,” she continued. “Our main focus is to research on the applications of smart contracts, not only a database. A little bit more focused on the remuneration, the transparency, and having an ecosystem that is a little more artist-centric.” “Essentially what blockchain represents is a new internet,” said McKenzie. “If you think about the internet arriving in 95, it’s taken us 20 years to figure out what the ideal [music] business model is for that, which is streaming… With blockchain, we need to build a new stack for media and music.” Rogers talked about the analogy comparing blockchain to Google Docs, where people can make changes to documents, which are recorded in a change-log – with others able to be invited to collaborate on the docs. “But Google owns the data that is being created,” he noted. “Blockchains force action… If I were to make a statement about a work that I own in a blockchain, and I were to send it to you Sophie, you have three choices: yes it’s correct and I agree, no it’s not correct, or ignore it, which means it’s correct.” “What blockchain may bring to the table is something you cannot ignore, because ignoring it is the same as accepting what’s there on the table is truth… A blockchain-based system at scale could force people to work with it, in a way that exposes them to decentralisation and transparency, arguably whether they like it or not.” Bailer talked about two thought processes. “If a work comes to life and is recorded the

CMU insight: The Life of a Song @ The Great Escape 2017

26th July 2017
Look out for more reports throughout June on key sessions that took place at the CMU Insights conferences at The Great Escape last month. Today, we look at a presentation by Mycelia’s Head Of Research Carlotta De Ninni. She spoke at the Royalties Conference to introduce a new project Mycelia is undertaking to give better insight into how money flows through the digital music system: The Life Of A Song. The project tells the story of Mycelia founder Imogen Heap’s biggest hit, ‘Hide & Seek’. “It shows the journey of the song from back in 2004, when it was registered with PRS, to now”, said De Ninni. The project will create a visual representation of how the song has been used, evolved, synced, reworked and commercialised since then, with details of all the remixes and collaborations, all the contracts Heap has signed in relation to the song, sync deals, and information on when key digital music services made the track available. “The grand aim of the project is to create an interactive web application that will allow users – whether you’re an artist, or a journalist, or maybe a student – to follow three separate journeys around the song. The first journey is a biography of the song, the people involved, all the agencies, literally the history of the work. The second breaks down how the song has been used, the deals that were done. And the third, probably the most interesting element, is going to be a breakdown of the income”. She continued: “At the moment, with my research group of MA students from Westminster University, we are digging into a lot of reports – PRS reports, PPL reports, all of Imogen’s earnings for ‘Hide & Seek’. [The aim is that someone using the app] could say, ‘I want to know how much Imogen earned from Spotify UK in 2008’. You put this in, and you will get back a number, and an explanation and some graphs about it. This is a very interesting and powerful tool”. “Our first partners for this project are PRS and PPL”, she went on. “They’ve offered us some amazing personnel, who have helped us to delve into the data. They’re helping us to understand and make this kind of categorisation simple”. Doing this research has already thrown up some interesting insights that Heap and her team weren’t previously aware of. Looking at various pieces of user-generated content, they estimate that the song has had around eight billion plays through unauthorised sources since it was released in 2005. Aside from this, it has also highlighted at which points in the system data is lacking. “Besides showing what’s happening with Imogen’s money, the aim is to have a significant use case to show everybody what is actually going well in our industry – because not everything is bad – but also where there are grey areas”, said De Ninni. “For PRS and PPL, overseas collection is a nightmare. This isn’t their fault, it’s because some

How to revive the music industry, blockchain could bring about a revolution

10th July 2016
Whether we stream it through our smartphones or buy tracks from our laptops, technology has made music more accessible than ever before. For consumers, this is good news. But for the music industry, it’s a different story. In 2015, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) estimates music consumption increased 3.7 per cent and streaming grew a whopping 82 per cent. However, revenues grew by a measly 0.6 per cent. Income from sales and the streaming of recorded music, including the share that can be passed on to artist, actually dipped 0.9 per cent. But technology, as much as it’s been a thorn in the industry’s side, might yet provide a solution. Several key artists and musicians have turned towards blockchain – usually the mainstay of discussions about cryptocurrencies and fintech – as the innovation that could breathe new life into an industry struggling to stay on top of piracy, low revenues and intellectual property minefields. Blockchain first gained notoriety in 2008 as the technology that underpins bitcoin. It operates as a shared ledger, which continuously records transactions or information. Its database structure, where there is a timestamp on each entry and information linking it to previous blocks, makes it not only transparent but exceptionally difficult to tamper with. Although bitcoin has had all the glory, blockchain’s advocates have labelled it “revolutionary” and a “paradigm change”. Banks and public services are already experimenting with it. On the other hand, its critics would say it is merely a souped-up version of existing database ideas. One of blockchain’s most vocal bell-ringers is the Grammy Award-winning UK singer, songwriter and producer Imogen Heap. “Blockchain is completely enabling us to rethink the basic, core structure of how monetary distribution works in the industry,” Heap told City A.M. “It can be used to build a united platform and create an ecosystem, but most importantly builds innovation under the standards that make sense for artists.” The research would seem to back up Heap’s point. In a report this week released by the Blockchain for Creative Industries cluster at Middlesex University and the Featured Artists’ Coalition (FAC), researchers found four areas where using blockchain could be a genuine asset to the music industry. Alongside aiding “fast, frictionless royalty payments”, blockchain can also help to create a networked database for music copyright information, enhance “transparency through the value chain” and aid access to alternative sources of capital. For Heap, using blockchain and blockchain-inspired contracts are undoubtedly linked to creating fair value for the exchange between artists and listeners. By cutting out the middle men, there is a sense of getting back to the more intimate direct exchange between artist and listener. But it is also intrinsically tied up with democratising the creative process. It can offer her listeners a deeper insight into how she actually creates music, and can be the vehicle through which the people who work on her tracks get the credit they deserve too. Last October, Heap released her song Tiny Human attached to a smart contract

The Conversation : How blockchain could help musicians make a living from music

7th July 2016
In the decade and a half since Napster, it’s got harder for musicians to make a living, at least from recorded music. Falling CD sales, illegal downloads, the low payments from legal music streaming platforms, and a shift towards buying single tracks rather than whole albums all play their part. Recently, a number of music industry projects have turned to a particular technology as a possible solution to these problems. These include Mycelia, launched by singer, songwriter and producer Imogen Heap, andDot Blockchain Music, launched by PledgeMusic founder Benji Rogers. Then there’s Ujo Music, Blokur, Aurovine, Resonate, Peertracks, Stemand Bittunes, which already claims users in 70 countries. What links these projects is that they all are based on blockchain. Blockchain is the software that underpins bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Comprised of blocks of data cryptographically chained together in chronological order, it has two key features. It is immutable: data cannot be modified. And it is distributed rather than centralised: many exact copies are maintained independently of each other. Blockchain technology has been touted as the answer to problems facing industries as diverse as banking, the diamond trade, online gambling and fashion – even how we govern society. How might it help musicians? Owning it The first problem facing musicians comes down to the fact that no comprehensive database of music copyright ownership exists. There are several databases, but none features every track in existence, and when a track appears in more than one database the details don’t always match up. The blockchain, as Vinay Gupta put it in a recent talk, is both database and network. If music copyright information were stored on the blockchain, via a cryptographic digital fingerprint (like a barcode), then up-to-date information could be accessible to all users, rather than being held by particular gatekeepers. Getting paid The second problem is payments. Listeners can access tracks immediately with a click, yet according to a Rethink Music report it can take years for royalties to reach those responsible for making the music. Smart contracts, implemented on the blockchain via software, could split royalties in agreed proportions as soon as a track is downloaded or streamed. Such micropayments might not be feasible with current systems, but systems built around using cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin could facilitate payments in fractions of pennies. Shining light into black boxes Third, the mechanism by which royalties are calculated and paid is often opaque. Some revenue ends up in a “black box” beyond the reach of the artists and songwriters to whom it rightly belongs. In a culture of confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements, artists (or their managers) cannot properly audit their payments if they are not certain how much they are due. Recording music is expensive, and musicians have to get paid. Blockchain could help. Nejron Photo/Shutterstock.com Funding the future The final issue is cash, required upfront to help musicians create new music. It’s often said that artists no longer need record labels, but funds are required to compete commercially – and that

Headliner Magazine

2nd June 2016
The signs that Imogen Heap was going to be a game changer came at an early age. As has been the case with many of our brightest musicians, Imogen did not get along well with her music teacher at school but found herself in the small cupboard which had an Atari and some music software on it, 25 years ago! She read the manual and so began her work with music and computers. She attended the prestigious BRIT School of performing arts after that to do her A-levels. Here she learned about mixing and engineering, recording real audio. She met her manager there at the age 0f 18 and even before she left school had a record deal. As is normal, Heap has had her ups and downs with labels… Fed up with the battles, Heap went independent at the age of 25 when she wrote and self produced her album Speak for Yourself. A vocoded acapella song, Hide and Seek, from this album gained its fame when featured in the popular teen drama, The O.C. (which broke quite a few artists), and even more so when it was heavily sampled in the number one hit song, Whatcha Say, by Jason Derulo. The O.C. was Imogen’s first real breakthrough moment, and also the first time thousands of people heard her music and found themselves asking, ‘how did she do that? Imogen’s next album was followed up by the Grammy winning Ellipse, which she video blogged the whole process (including the building of her home studio) and he rmost recent album Sparks, saw her doing a project for every song. Taking her to work with a Chinese City for Xizi She Knows, developing her music gloves for Me The Machine and making a running app with Run-Time. Videos and making of documentaries were made for each song. Here’s a link to the sampler for a taster of each song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=poMt0o78HO0 Today, Imogen is focused on her Mycelia incentive, of which she reveals all below. We sat down with the sound master herself to find out more about this plan to save the music industry from itself by turning it not so much on its head, but on its feet. ARTICLE BODY TEXT: In a nutshell, Mycelia (http://www.imogenheap.com/mycelia/) has become a think and do tank, for the purpose of connecting the dots between artists, services and fans to create a sustainable music industry ecosystem. This involves overseeing the building and protecting of a verified database for the music community creatives, their work, and their collaborators. We want to see an open database that describes the whole music industry, so that everyone involved can be recognized and rewarded. To enable the artists and their teams to shape how their music is used from one day to the next. Currently a song is uploaded and then it is as if it just falls off a cliff. Very little data about what it gets up to and so leaves the artist in a much poorer

Imogen Heap: Decentralising the music industry with blockchain

14th May 2016
Award-winning recording artist Imogen Heap is on a mission to decentralise the music industry. Could blockchain technology hold the key? Yessi Bello Perez reports. Known for her musical prowess and as one half of British electronic duo Frou Frou, Grammy-winning artist Imogen Heap is also a technologist and one who’s striving for the decentralisation and democratisation of the music industry. Heap developed an interest in technology at an early age. She explains that, when she was 12, her parents split up and she went to boarding school. “I spent a lot of my time there hiding in a cupboard that had a computer in it – that was my first introduction to music and programming,” she said. “It was the first time I could see something on a screen and I could type something in on a keyboard and out the notes would come. It was just an incredible opportunity for me to finally hear back all the music that was in my head.” As the years went on, she used her school recording studio and learned about electronic music, recording techniques, amplification and so on. All the time sat in the school cupboard paid off, as Heap secured a record deal at the age of 17. Now, aged 38, she has one Frou Frou album and four solo albums under her belt and has an extensive knowledge of the workings of the music industry. One thing she has learned is that there is a great lack of transparency in the industry, a problem she feels technology is best suited to remedying. Recently, the artist has been exploring the potential of blockchain technology, which is already creating waves in financial services and is now showing great promise in other areas, such as the arts. Blockchain “Blockchain is the catalyst for change in the industry. It’s a new piece of technology, in the same way MP3 was. It’s a step in the right direction,” said Heap. Blockchains could enable artists to release their tracks themselves and gain greater control over the terms of the release and the profits received. They could use smart contracts to dictate who gets what share of the money generated and, on the consumer side, they could even implement a tiered pricing structure depending on who is purchasing the track and for what purpose. It could operate a similar premise to photo sharing platforms such as Flickr – those using an artist’s music for non-commercial purposes could get hold of it for free, while those wanting to use it on, say, an advert, would have to pay a fixed amount. Heap said it would give artists greater control over pricing, something which they have little to no say on currently. She thinks it would be great for artists to be able to action flash sales on their tracks, or issue them for free to those under the age of 16, for example. Let’s say there’s a natural disaster in Asia, the artist could decide to syphon all

QUARTZ: Using blockchain technology to revolutionize the music industry

19th February 2016
British singer and songwriter Imogen Heap is building what she calls a “fair trade” music industry that aims to sidestep middlemen like iTunes and Spotify and give musicians more ownership over the money and data produced by their work. Heap’s latest song, “Tiny Human,” a ballad to her newborn daughter, debuted last year on a site called Ujo Music where users can buy the song, as well as the track’s key, tempo, and stems, using a cryptocurrency called Ether. The money goes directly to the producers, writers, and engineers involved in the song’s production. “When someone buys a piece of music or plays a piece of music, ultimately in the future there will be no need for a middle, centralized service. The fan will be immediately paying the artist,” Heap told Quartz on Thursday (Feb. 18) at Design Indaba, an architecture and design conference in Cape Town. The singer’s experiment with “Tiny Human” is the precursor to an entire music eco-system she’s building called “Mycelia,” named after a thread of underground fungus that grows for miles. Aside from enabling faster, direct payments for artists, Heap wants to create a free platform where musicians have control over the data created by their songs as they circulate among fans and other musicians, including the song’s credits, terms of usage dictated by the artist, where the song is played and when, and any transactions. This information is tracked using blockchain technology, a method of recording digital transactions first used for Bitcoin. “There’s a whole world behind each song…there’s a lot of data there and a lot of wasted data that’s not being harnessed to give back to the artist,” Heap says, adding that this data can provide valuable feedback for artists. “It’s so, so important to be able to know where your fans are, what they are listening to, what is exciting to them about what you are doing.” Heap, the only music artist to win a Grammy for engineering with her creation of “musical gloves” that shape sound as she performs, is no stranger to experimentation. She joins the likes of Taylor Swift (whose1989 album she helped co-produce) and other artists who have criticized the music industry’s treatment of independent artists and thefew royalties they receive from streaming services. Her response is to try to build an alternative system. The traditional music industry doesn’t have to be cut out of the process, Heap says. She has been speaking with Spotify about the project and says the aim of Mycelia is not to rival streaming services or record labels but to serve as the source of the music. Artists would turn to record labels for things like marketing and promotion. “It’s about trying to take away the power from top down and give power, or at least a steering, to the artist to help shape their own future,” Heap told reporters. Blockchain technology, already in use on other music streaming and download platforms like Bittunes and PeerTracks, has its challenges.It’s not clear who


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Mycelia THINK + DO Weekend

Sonos Studios, 21 Club Row, London E2 7EY
8th-10th July
1pm – 6pm Friday
10am-6pm Saturday (5pm Sunday)

Mycelia Hack Weekend

Sonos Studios, 21 Club Row, London E2 7EY
1st-3rd April
1pm – 6pm Friday
10am-6pm Saturday (5pm Sunday)

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