Hank Risan is founder and CEO of Media Rights Technologies, Inc. (MRT) and BlueBeat Music (BlueBeat.com), MRT's subsidiary Internet music service, and founder and chairman of the Museum of Musical Instruments (MoMI; TheMoMI.org), America's first virtual musical instrument museum.
In 1999 Mr. Risan personally funded a team of 16 software engineers to develop technology that would enable the effective transmission, protection, and monetization of digital content for record companies, Hollywood studios, financial services companies, and other digital content owners and providers. In 2001 he filed the first of more than 125 domestic and foreign patent applications to protect his innovations. Today the MRT Digital Media Patent Portfolio revolves around a core concept called the Controlled Data Pathway, which resolves persistent issues such as securing digital content during storage, transmission, and presentation in the context of a Content Delivery Network.
Mr. Risan started BlueBeat Music in 2003 to restore and perform 20th century sound recordings that had degraded due to primitive recording technologies, subsequent re-recordings, and the effects of time. He developed proprietary technologies to produce sound-alike recordings of previously recorded musical works called 'psycho-acoustic simulations,' based on psychoacoustics, a branch of science that studies the psychological and physiological responses associated with sound. Mr. Risan also developed and patented a Serial Copy Management System to protect the simulations from piracy and ensure that artists and composers receive due compensation for their works.
BlueBeat Music now offers more than 2 million tracks that run the full gamut of musical tastes, from Medieval Gregorian chants and ragtime to today's pop hits.
Mr. Risan studied architectural theory and design with noted critic, author, and art historian Reyner Banham, and continues to place great emphasis on restoration, preservation and conservation. As founder and chairman of MoMI, he has played a central role in fostering the appreciation and preservation of historic musical instruments by collaborating in large-scale exhibitions with the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Mr. Risan began collecting vintage Martin guitars at age 16 and has assembled a vast collection of the finest examples of 19th and 20th century fretted instruments. The Hank Risan Collection, featured at TheMoMI.org, includes an 1835 Martin guitar that accompanied Mark Twain throughout his life. Mr. Risan is also an avid collector of fine art and memorabilia. He owns two Maltese falcon props from the 1941 film of the same name and is a leading collector of works by the British graffiti artist and satirist, Banksy.
A mathematics and science prodigy, Mr. Risan received a National Science Foundation Award in Mathematics at age 21 for research in the field of low-dimensional topology. Between the ages 16 and 25, Mr. Risan was invited to work in math and science departments at universities throughout the U.S. and Europe, including Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, and the Sorbonne in Paris. During the 1970s, Mr. Risan studied advanced mathematics for two years at the University of California, Los Angeles and earned bachelor's degrees in mathematics (with Honors) and biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. His undergraduate thesis in neurobiology concerned the network topology of the human brain. Mr. Risan concurrently attended Ph.D. programs at UC Santa Cruz and UC Berkeley, where he was Phi Beta Kappa, in mathematics and neurobiology. At UC Santa Cruz, Mr. Risan taught advanced mathematics and used supercomputers to solve theoretical mathematical, biomedical, and psychoacoustic research problems using simulated computer modeling. Mr. Risan completed his Ph.D. dissertation at Cambridge University, England, and he attended graduate-level business courses at the London School of Economics.