SOCAN’s Digital Services team hosted a Twitter Spaces Q&A on our @socanmusic Twitter channel, about Music Licensing in the Metaverse, on July 28, 2022. The event was designed for event/concert promoters, indie developers, landowners, record labels, music publishers, game developers and/or metaverse developers and operators, and anyone else with an interest in Web3 and the metaverse, as the online world continues to evolve rapidly from websites to interactive spaces.

The Q&A featured virtual world industry leaders Matt Zanardo, of Metaverse Group; Deborah Mannis-Gardner, of DMG Clearances; Colin Murphy, of Decentral Games; and Corey Kovnats, of dapphaus. It was hosted by SOCAN’s Holly Fagan-Lacoste, Manager, Digital Business & Partner Relations; Tanner Jackson, Licensing Agent, Digital Business; and Houtan Hodania, Creative Executive.

More than 160 attendees heard from the experts, about music copyright, how music is being used in the virtual and augmented-reality worlds, how music licensing applies online, and why it’s important.

“Through this series of discussions, SOCAN hopes that we, as combined communities, will have collaborated with stakeholders to identify a clear path forward towards what an appropriate licensing model and fee structure might look like for the metaverse,” said SOCAN’s Tanner Jackson. “We need to ensure that amidst this technological transition, the value of music is not lost, and that music creators are receiving their well-deserved public performance royalties for the communication of their works inside of the metaverse.”

SOCAN’s Holly Fagan-Lacoste said, “SOCAN is all about supporting the health, wealth, and development of any ecosystem that involves music. We’re not in the business of getting in the way of business, only assuring the economics surrounding music in any digital space is acknowledged and fairly compensated.”

Colin Murphy defined the metaverse as “a digitally native open virtual space, whether it’s 2D or 3D, where users can interact with the environment and each other, allowing for social engagement and experiences.” Essentially, it explores new ways of building communities and gathering them in digital spaces. He said that licensing in the Metaverse is very challenging, because an activation might be going on in 40 countries, all of which have different licensing rules and protocols. These challenges are exacerbated by the wide use of VPNs (virtual private networks) for security and location masking, though the use and presence of VPNs dates back, and other digital platforms affected by VPNs have been licensed.

Corey Kovnats also said it’s hard to achieve international compliance, because a licence is required where the users are, not where the metaverse event originates from. He raised the question of who should pay for the licence: the platforms, the landowners, or the users? Matt Zanardo talked about working on immersive concert experiences globally, but figuring out the way to do it while complying with rules in various areas – booking, ticket sales, licensing, and so on. Deborah Mannis-Gardner said that the  metaverse is here to stay, and that it began to explode during pandemic lockdowns, which allowed us the opportunity to experience it first-hand – to still socialize and entertain while sitting at home.

Among the initial suggestions at this first discussion were a decentralized asset registry which contains the relevant contextual rights, as tied to a particular unique identifier – like an IP address, but for a particular work, whether that work is a song, or a stem, or a sample; a shared calendar for the participants documenting all upcoming discussion groups where stakeholders are working to determine solutions for licensing in the metaverse; and going with a blanket license for the metaverse use, then  dividing the collected fees into royalties, according to music use, as determined by hard data.