Championing data accuracy at Music Week Tech Summit
This week, our Chief Information Officer Mark Douglas took part in Music Week’s Tech Summit, highlighting the importance of accurate recorded music metadata. Metadata aids a wide range of important business activities, such as the collection and distribution of royalties, the development of an artist’s career, or where a label invests its A&R spend. Here we outline some of the organisations and projects that are working to improve the accuracy of data the music industry relies upon to drive revenue.
DDEX, a not-for-profit consortium of companies in the creative industries, is establishing the universal standards of music data, laying the foundations for a supply chain in which music companies can share data with each other efficiently. By ensuring everyone is speaking the same data “language”, these standards reduce the likelihood of inaccuracies whilst also making it simpler to share data.
Two of its standards are especially important to creators. The DDEX ‘RIN’ standard, launched in 2016, allows a creator’s contributions to be captured in recording metadata during the creative process and then shared onwards in the data supply chain, to organisations such as labels and collective management organisations (CMOs) such as ourselves. Indeed, PPL is a board member of DDEX and helped to create RIN. ‘MEAD’ is the latest standard to be launched. It enables communication of over 30 types of rich information about recordings and artists, such as information about lyrics, chart positions, awards, and reviews. It also includes information to help people find music via voice-activated services such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant, and to highlight certain tracks for an artist. MEAD is vital in a digital-first music ecosystem, helping music to be found more easily by listeners as well as more intelligently marketed.
IFPI and WIN’s RDx service, built and operated by PPL and launched in 2020, shows how the implementation of these standards benefit our industry. RDx is a one-stop shop for labels registering their recordings with CMOs. Recording data is uploaded to RDx and, after being checked for inaccuracies, omissions or rights conflicts with other registrations, is made available to CMOs around the world for use in collecting and distributing royalties. By streamlining the process of recording registration, inaccuracies in the data supply chain are reduced and royalties flow more efficiently back to the creators as a result.
Major and independent labels have begun to register their recordings via RDx, delivering the benefits of improved standardisation and repertoire data quality, as well as automation and efficiency.
Incorrect data can also enter the data supply chain “at source” – when a recording is created in the studio. Recording contributions are often made at different times and in different locations, making it hard to comprehensively log “creator credits” – i.e who did what – in a track’s metadata. A number of organisations are working on solutions to this.
Session, founded by songwriter Niclas Molinder with the backing of ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus, uses a smartphone app to identify each performer present in a studio during a recording session and then log their presence in the metadata of the master recording, ensuring that all those who perform on a track are known as it enters the data supply chain.
Sound Credit, a DAW plug-in, also helps here with its easy-to-use credit tracking and editing software for producers.
Creative Passport, created by Imogen Heap and Carlotta De Ninni, is a digital ID for creators – a tool which allows them to be more easily credited for their work.
All of these technologies further improve the accuracy of data collected by plugging into PPL’s member database and retrieving a creator’s unique International Performer Number (IPN). This is added to their credits and helps reduce the chance of creator misidentification.
The work of these organisations, alongside the support of the music industry, is helping to create an accurate and more efficient music data supply chain. This supply chain is the foundation upon which a more advanced and efficient music industry is being built. With better data we are helping information and money flow around the world effectively, with minimal delay, for the benefit of creators and their representatives.