Letting members of the company’s online community directly invest in film, TV and music projects would close a key loop, said Kim Jackson, co-founder and head of entertainment for the company. During a keynote session at a New York conference sponsored by the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance, she said crowdfunding would complement tools for producing, distributing and tracking projects. The whole enterprise, she said, can be managed with new technology that offers far greater ease and transparency than with any current method, though regulators have expressed some wariness.
“We’re working with SEC lawyers and working very closely with regulators to be able to show them the functionality of this application,” Jackson said. “It will really be able to be a transparent ledger, so there really isn’t anything to fear or anything that can be manipulated. I think once regulators really see the elegance of the technology they will be able to be less fearful.”
While ICOs — “initial coin offerings” — have become increasingly popular, Jackson said they are “giving blockchain a bad name.” Intended as fundraising tools trading future crypto-coins in exchange for crypto-currencies of immediate, liquid value, ICOs have raised concerns that they are potentially fraudulent schemes cloaked by technology.
SingularDTV isn’t focused on ICOs but instead is among a handful of companies looking to produce and distribute content using blockchain technology, which harnesses digital currencies but more broadly aims to improve online transparency.
Based in Switzerland and New York, the company has developed a slate of film titles, which it will start rolling out in the coming months. The firm’s slate, first announced late last year, includes Alex Winter’s feature documentary Trust Machine: The Story of Blockchain, and The Happy Worker, directed by Duwayne Dunham (Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey). David Lynch is an executive producer of The Happy Worker. It also plans a fall theatrical release in the U.S. for sci-fi thriller Perfect, which is executive produced by Steven Soderbergh.
Early in 2019, the company will put these and other titles through a blockchain-powered, on-demand hub akin to iTunes that will enable viewers to download content in exchange for digital currency (its preferred one is ethereum.)
Even without crowdfunding, Jackson said, blockchain offers a wealth of advantages to both B-to-B and B-to-C audiences. One industry example is determining back-end and residual payments, especially during the long-tail period when those payments are modest but also an administrative hassle. “Residuals are the biggest accounting nightmare,” she said. Studios “are spending all kinds of resources to pay five cents of residuals in their back room. … It’s super-inefficient for them and costs them millions and millions of dollars.”
For consumers, the technology “gives us an instantaneous value chain,” she said. “You and I can decide what has value, based on you and I agreeing, not what a third party determines the value is.”