Swiss Startup: RightClearing Simplifies Right Clearing For Artists INTERVIEW

Most musicians want to do one thing and that is, play music. Some want to play bars and clubs, others want to play in bands and orchestras, and others want to record and sell their music. One of the issues that stands in the way of an artists creativity is clearing their rights to their music. After all they’ve created a song, they want to make sure they get credit for it.

That’s where Zurich Switzerland based startup, RightClearing, comes in. They’ve simplified and democratized  the market for music licensing by providing the technological infrastructure for musicians and content users to sell and purchase licenses. The entire process from searching for songs to creating and paying for binding legal licenses has been automated. Independent artists and labels can now earn money with the usage rights to their music. Advertisers, filmmakers or private persons can license songs for their own use with only a few clicks.

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When you think about copyrights and music you may not think to the Swiss however RightClearing is planning a global rollout and founder Philippe Perraux is convinced that they have a platform in place that will become a staple in any artists career.  When Perraux graduated law school in 2001 he knew he wanted to continue working on copyright law. What he ran into was an old antiquated system that needed innovation. Now, 11 years later he has that system.

We got a chance to find out more about RightClearing in the interview below:

How does RightClearing work?

When talking about rightclearing, one always has to bear in mind that rightclearing serves two parties.

On the one side you have the rights holders, ranging from small independent artists to big publishers, who can use rightclearing to create additional revenue through licensing. They can just upload their content, define the prices and determine how their works may be used. As we really want to support indie artists, all contracts are non-exclusive and the artists get the full price they defined, we just charge the licensee a small commission.

On the other side there are the potential customers, who can be private YouTube-user, filmmakers or advertisers, that come to looking for songs to use in their projects. For example, if they already have song stuck in their head, they can simply upload it and our cutting-edge search technology will analyze its characteristics and recommend the most similar tracks in our catalog. Once a song has been found, they only need to provide some general information about the project and the price will be calculated automatically. After payment, the sound file and a legal contract can be downloaded immediately.

Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

Our founder is Philippe Perreaux. After graduating from law school at the University of Zurich (CH) in 2001, Philippe worked as a copyright lawyer for the largest photo agencies across Europe, including the EPA, the leading photo agency in Europe ( As a lawyer, he has been battling an outdated and complicated system of copyrights for more than a decade. He was always passionate about making copyright easier and usable in the digital age, which is why he also became the representative of Creative Commons in Switzerland.

Where are you based?

We are based in Zurich, Switzerland.

What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based?

There are a lot of Start-ups in Zürich, even if you can’t compare it to hubs like Berlin or San Francisco. High living and salary costs can be obstacles in the beginning, although Switzerland’s economy ranks second most competitive in the world according to the current World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report and two of the highest ranked universities in Europe are in Zurich, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the University of Zurich, offering a steady supply of qualified people with innovative ideas. For us Zurich was a good base to start but for the global roll out we need to expand to other cities. This process is currently being planned.

How did you come up with the idea for Rightclearing?

Philippe Perreaux our CEO is passionate about making music licensing easy for everyone. As mentioned he has always wanted to break down the extremely complicated process of music licensing to its bare essentials. His experience with intellectual property and the friction involved in licensing sparked his zeal for creating a solution to this massive problem in the marketplace. rightclearing simply provides the necessary infrastructure to allow content creators and users to broker deals directly with each other. Next to the legal aspect, a further idea was to open-up the licensing market to everybody and democratize music licensing for small independent artists as well as private YouTube users.

It is a fact that the way we use content is changing. Modern technology allows everybody to use existing content to create new works – away from pure consumption towards creativity. This change requires new and innovative approaches toward copyrights, which take into account the digital nature of music, films and other content. If we can provide users with a fair system to license content, they will be willing to pay for it.

How did you come up with the name?

We wanted a name that was self-explanatory and rightclearing is about clearing your usage rights – and of course it’s the “right” way to do it.

What problem does Rightclearing solve?

With our technical infrastructure we solve problems for both parties – the rights owners and the clients.

For the rightsholders we open up the previously exclusive licensing market – now even independent artists and small labels can make money with licenses, without any legal knowledge. Further, the rightclearing technology merges the traditional concepts of copyright (©), Creative Commons (CC) and Public Domain (PD) into one system that allows the seamless and frictionless monetization of usage rights.

For potential clients rightclearing simplifies the existing complex and antiquated procedure of music licensing by creating an easy way for them to license music just as simply and quickly as buying a song on iTunes. Before rightclearing they often needed to spend a lot of time negotiating the terms and prices with lawyers. By adding modern search technology, automated contracts and an easy payment process, rightclearing automates the whole process. This allows anyone to simply purchase licenses for their project, whether for commercial or private use.

What’s your secret sauce?

What makes us unique is the infrastructure rightclearing provides, which addresses the needs of right holders as much as it does those of clients. Based on the information provided by both parties (e.g. price for a specific usage defined by the artist and the budget for the client’s project) the prices are calculated automatically and an automated lawyer creates the customized contracts. This will be the licensing procedure in the future for any type of content: find the right material, close a legal contract and download the file in the desired quality – all without lawyers or long-winded negotiations.

Further the best search technology helps clients to find the perfect song quickly. The easiest way to describe music is with other music. With our search technology, customers can just upload a track and will then be recommended similar songs. They can also use keywords to further narrow the results or look for different music.

What’s one dilemma you’ve encountered in the startup process?

In order to launch, we required a certain amount of content, so the search technology could really shine and deliver good results. Finding good content from publishers, labels and indie-artists before the product itself went online was not always easy, especially as we wanted quality over quantity. On the other hand we had a fixed launch date at the Digital Music Summit in NYC that is attended by top tech and music executives. So we had to balance our interests and find enough content to start with within a relatively short timeframe.

What’s one challenge you’ve overcome in the startup process?

In the beginning, rightclearing was part of restorm AG and explaining the link between the two platforms was not always easy. Now we’ve split the two ‘products’, founded a second company and operate both platforms independently. This way it is easier to pitch our product to media, potential clients and investors.

Who are some of your mentors and business role models?

We have a very strong and passionate advisory board that supports us. Most importantly the internet-visionary Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, former CEO of Creative Commons and early stage investor of companies such as Twitter, and Flickr. Joi was involved from the very beginning when Philippe pitched him the first idea for rightclearing and Joi told us, that this was exactly the way to go. So we did. Next to him our advisory board includes Hal Bringman, who has launched and helped building some of the most disruptive start-ups to date such as or Napster. Florent Thouvenin, the co-director of the Research Center for Information Law, Fribourg CH and Boris Löhe, who worked a long time for Sony and Universal and is now president of our partner service Mufin.

What’s next for Rightclearing?

On the business development side we are now focusing on the global roll-out, especially building a strong presence in the US market. On the technical side we are finishing two main projects:

· rightclearing was developed by the artist-based music platform and is fully integrated therein. Currently labels and artists have to adjust their licensing settings on, but we are working on a dedicated artist login directly on rightclearing.

· For third party applications and to make sure that and rightclearing remain linked, we are building our own API.

Links, we got em’

Rightclearing can be found on the web here

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