Turning airplay into your pay

Whether it’s a chart topping hit being played in a high street store, a white label drum and bass remix getting its first airplay on Radio 1 or a TV programme featuring a piece of classical music, it’s thanks to PPL’s dedicated team of analysts and data processors that thousands of tracks are correctly identified and matched to one of over nine million recordings in our repertoire database.

Within a year over 640,000 tracks were matched by the Music Reporting Services team. Including digital services, this number increased to almost a million tracks, meaning more members than ever before are getting paid for the use of their recordings.

And it’s not just the big artists and recording rightsholders who are benefiting as PPL continues to refine the accuracy of our reporting and analysis. While the chart hits still account for much of PPL’s revenue, the volume and range of members receiving payments is growing, especially with more recording rightsholder members registering their repertoire.

One factor driving this growth is the sheer number of licensees now reporting data to PPL. According to PPL’s Head of Music Reporting Services, Tim Silver, few other CMOs have the capacity to handle the same level and breadth of reporting across TV, radio and public performance as PPL. In 2014, the team processed 378 billion seconds of airplay – equivalent to 1,200 years of constantly played music – from 977 different sources. PPL expects this to grow significantly year on year.

Better quality data

It’s not just the volume of data that is increasing. The quality of the data is also improving. Many members might not realise it, but PPL now receives airplay data for over 30,000 high street customer sites, including big brand banks, pubs, bars, clothing retailers, restaurants and supermarkets.

Even when PPL doesn’t receive actual airplay data, the team has rigorous methods for distributing public performance revenue. This includes conducting surveys of pubs, bars, restaurants, hotels, schools, churches and community buildings to find out what types of music they are playing the most. Based on the findings, the analysts are able to build profiles of their customers and can identify one or more suitable TV, radio or public performance licensee airplay reports to use as the surrogate data set.

Once the data arrives at PPL, there is still a huge amount of checking and analysis to be done to see if there are any gaps or anomalies. PPL’s matching system then links the recordings to the repertoire database, to identify the owner of the recording and who performed on it. Making use of complex matching and data cleansing technology, the process is automated as far as possible and the system will try and match everything.

However, the process is still dependent on PPL members registering the recordings correctly in the first place. Unless the recording is in the database, the system can’t identify anything to match to. The team then have to manually search the repertoire database to try and find details for the track.

Repertoire is growing

The good news is that more and more recording rightsholder members are registering their repertoire. Currently the PPL repertoire database is growing by an average of 6,500 tracks every week. As well as continuing to improve the technology, PPL also has a team dedicated to contacting members whose performances should be registered and we work closely with emerging artists to help them to get paid.