We recently got a chance interview Jessica Sobhraj, the founder of Cosynd, a platform that makes it easier than ever for artists and creators to access the legal tools they need to manage content ownership. The platform allows creators of music, video, visual art and literature to collectively verify their ownership of their copyrights and establishes other critical legal details. Cosynd also provides a quick and easy way for these collaborators to register their content with the U.S. Copyright Office.
Some of the cleverest aspects of the platform directly aim to ease the pain points of the collaborative content era. If a creator regularly works with the same collaborators, they can assign default roles and splits for each collaborator instead of having to enter this information repeatedly. Multiple titles can be added to a single agreement and creators can quickly add new titles to their existing agreements, saving everyone the time and headache of repetitive paperwork each time they collaborate together (collaborators merely need to sign off on the new addition.)
Learn more about the platform and the team in the interview below:
Hi! Can you please tell our readers a bit about yourself?
I currently serve as CEO of Cosynd, an essential toolkit for creators that allows them to register their content with the U.S. Copyright Office and to easily create copyright ownership agreements with their collaborators. With Cosynd, collaborators can reach a consensus about who owns their content, who can license it, and more through a simple, guided automated process. I also serve as President of Women in Music – the longest running and largest non-profit for women in the music industry that provides resources to thousands of professionals. I began my career in the music industry 10+ years ago. Over this time, I led strategic traditional licensing opportunities for music micro-licensing pioneers Rumblefish, where I structured distribution networks in Africa, South America, Asia, Europe, New Zealand, and Australia. Prior that, I served as the Manager of Digital Content Licensing for the performing rights organization SESAC. I also sit on the advisory board of other non-profits and startups in the music/entertainment industry.
You’ve been SESAC veteran. But how did your journey as an entrepreneur start?
I’ve spent the beginning of my career interning at a startup and more than half of my career managing teams within startups. Entrepreneurship is all about recognizing problems and finding solutions to those problems that are economical and scalable while traversing the obstacles that are unique to your industry. Tenacity, passion and a great team to experience this fast-paced adventure are essential for the journey.
How did the idea for Cosynd come about?
We created Cosynd with one simple goal in mind – to make it easier and more affordable for creators to protect their ownership of their content with quality tools that aren’t overwhelming to use.
Everyone on our team is an advocate and supporter of the creative community. Over the years, we have seen artists and songwriters, in particular, suffer from the problems caused by missing or incorrect ownership data — piracy, misuse, outright theft, loss of income, and takedowns to say the least. Most of the creators we knew felt that it was too expensive and too complicated to sort out the ownership of their music with a legal agreement. Most weren’t aware that they were actually putting themselves at greater risk by not having an agreement – without one, anyone you create content with has an equal claim of ownership and rights under U.S. Copyright law by default. To date, an estimated $2.5 billion dollars worth of “black box” royalties have gone unclaimed and are instead being funneled to the major labels and publishers, because of incorrect ownership data too.
We knew that we could build a solution for our community that would be affordable, comprehensive, and still be easy to use. We designed Cosynd to be an essential toolkit for creators that could generate customized versions of the standard contracts that address the nuances of shared copyright, while also leaving room for attorneys to assist, if needed. By using Cosynd, creators can protect themselves, their content all for free!
What kind of challenges did you and the team faced to turn the venture into reality?
Building Cosynd has been quite the journey. We operate in the intersection of technology and copyright, so we have to balance creating sustainable tech that can understand the basics of copyright while still being easy to use. It’s a fun challenge to face, and it’s so rewarding to be able to make it affordable for creators to protect themselves and their content!
As mentioned in the release, the app aims to help “creators”. Who all does Cosynd reach and aims to help?
Whether you’re creating videos, music, documents, imagery, or another form of media, you can use Cosynd to protect your ownership of your content with simple ownership agreements and copyright registrations. Artists, songwriters, labels, publishers, photographers, filmmakers, writers, illustrators, designers, are all types of creators that can use Cosynd.
Cosynd was available for free till October 25. How has been the response of the people who signed up on the platform? Now, how do you plan to proceed?
Cosynd’s first tier, which allows creators to create unlimited split sheets, will be free forever. We extended the free period for the Essential and Premium tiers to later in November, because the response was so great – especially by the press. The majority of the press coverage hit just a few days before our original deadline, so we opted to extend it a little further.
Why do you think that people today need something like Cosynd? Are the platforms that all people to create content not competent enough to protect their rights? Where do you think has been the loophole and how your platform helps solve it?
Copyright can be a complicated topic to address because of all of the nuances that exist particularly with collaboration. Who owns the content? What percentage do they own? What rights does each person have and what can they do with the content? What most creatives aren’t aware of is that under U.S. copyright law, their collaborators have an equal claim of ownership of their content by default. In other words, if a collaborator played a small role in the creation of your content, they could have a claim of ownership and rights that equals yours unless there is an agreement in place stating otherwise!
Anything “legal” seems scary and expensive, which might prevent creators from taking the steps that are necessary to establish ownership their content. However, not taking those steps is a mistake that ultimately costs creators time and money. Things can get really awkward and expensive when creators have to resolve ownership issues when it’s time sell or license the content, instead of taking care of this beforehand. With Cosynd creators can get everyone on the same page about who owns their content, how it can be used, and what rights they all will have if things go wrong. Creators can negotiate the terms of these agreements through a simple click-through process, invite attorneys to review (if they want to), and e-sign quickly and easily, so that they can get back to doing what they do best – creating!
Unlike other apps, Cosynd is the only platform that helps music creators legally document ownership of their music, and other types of copyrights too, such as videos, images, photographs, literature and more in minutes — for free and collaboratively.
Cosynd outpaces other apps by offering more comprehensive agreements, requiring real e-signatures, allowing each collaborator to verify their own ownership percentage and add their own publisher/writer information. We are also the only application that allows additional titles to be added to the same agreement at any time in order to save everyone from having to process even more paperwork.
We also allow you to invite your own attorney to review and redline your agreement (if want to).
We read that most of the founders of the app are women and you have been invited to join Monarq incubator. Please tell us about the team behind the venture?
Cosynd was created by a diverse, dynamic team. My co-founders include Leo Larkpor (Chief Technology Officer Cosynd; CEO ArtTracks ; founder of HipHopzilla), Jennifer Newman Sharpe(General Counsel, Cosynd ; General Counsel, ONErpm; Co-Founder, Sparkplug), and Cassidy Williams (Chief Product Officer, Cosynd ; Senior Software Engineer, Codepen ; formerly Head of Developer Voice Programs, Amazon).
Cosynd is primarily owned by women and minorities — a rare combination in the startup scene and it happened completely organically. Building technology that simplifies something as complex as copyright requires a unique, advanced set of skills that very few people possess. Everyone on our team is incredibly talented, driven, and is an advocate for the creative community. The brainpower on this team is beyond anything I could have wished for.
Statistically, teams like ours make up a very small percentage of companies that participate in startup accelerators or that are funded by institutional capital. We haven’t let the stats phase us though. Our team was chosen out of hundreds of applicants to join the Monarq Incubator, NYC’s first startup accelerator for female founders, and Pipeline Angels, an organization of angel investors dedicated to creating capital for women and non-binary femme social entrepreneurs.
Is there any update for the platform that people need to know?
We have partnered with CD Baby to offer an affordable legal services platform to document ownership of content. Through our partnership, CD Baby’s members will receive 1 month of free access to Cosynd’s Essential and Premium tiers, which will allow them to create unlimited copyright split sheets, full copyright ownership agreements and work for hire agreements. They will also be able to register their works with the U.S. Copyright Office quickly and more affordably than ever before.
You can check out the features and other information through the link below: