Data digest: The industry comes together to address the challenge of capturing creator credits
In late November, DDEX, a not-for-profit consortium of companies in the creative industries, held its second Creator Credits Summit, attended by representatives of a range of companies across the industry, as well as a number of creators – all seeking to discuss and explore improvements to the way in which data relating to ‘who did what in the studio’ is captured and exchanged through the music data supply chain.
Accurately capturing this information – the “creator credits” – is crucial in today’s digital music landscape. With a complete and accurate set of credits attached to a recording at the beginning of the data supply chain, all those that contributed to its creation can be efficiently and fairly paid their share of available revenues.
So how can this data collection be best done? This was the aim of the Creator Credits Summit – to educate the industry on the importance of accurate creator credits, to showcase the tools and standards that can help with the capture and management of this data, and to bring together experts to discuss best practice and explore what further improvements can be made.
The challenge of capturing the credits
An interview with five-time Grammy Award winner, Jimmy Jam, was the keynote session of the summit. In that interview, Jimmy Jam spoke about the impact on him of seeing his name credited against a recording for the first time, and how, ever since, he has been conscious of the importance of credits and always encourages artists to keep a record of their credits.
Another discussion panel brought together more award-winning producers and engineers to discuss how the modern recording landscape makes the accurate logging of creator credits more difficult now that it is no longer always necessary to prepare album/single artwork in advance of a first release, and how responsibility for capturing this information can be unclear. As was discussed by the panel, the creative process is often non-linear and can involve many different people, from session musicians to engineers, and multiple producers, often not in the same location or at the same time. Additionally, many recordings are no longer being produced in a traditional studio environment. All of which presents challenges to the collation of accurate creator credits. The panel all agreed that the best moment to collect a complete set of creator credits is before the applicable recording is released to an audience, as this is when the information is most readily available.
DDEX data standards from the studio to digital services
DDEX used the summit as an opportunity to update the industry on the most recent additions to its range of data standards. These data standards act as a ‘lingua franca’, allowing the databases of different organisations to share data between them in a common and consistent way.
The latest addition to the DDEX standards is MEAD (Media Enrichment and Description), which 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.
The summit also saw a lot of discussion about the increasing use of the DDEX RIN (Recording Information Notification) data standard. First launched in 2016, RIN allows creator tools and recording production software, such as Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs), to capture and store recording metadata and credits, and to exchange it with other tools and with companies that need to work with that data – such as record companies.
All the DDEX standards are interoperable, so once data has been captured in RIN, as well as MEAD it can also be used in the ERN (Electronic Release Notification) standard used to deliver recordings to digital music services like Spotify, Apple, and Pandora, and the RDR (Recording Data and Rights) standard used to register recordings with collective management organisations (CMOs) like PPL.
A range of tools to help creators to capture data
The summit acted as a showcase of some of the companies that have developed tools and services, using the DDEX RIN standard, to help creators gather and manage data about their work and the credits. These included tools like Session, and Sound Credit, which can ‘plug in’ to DAWs; tools with portals and features for managing recording assets as well as data, like Jaamber, and VEVA Collect; and tools to help with the identification of artists and recordings, like Creative Passport, and Quansic.
Many of these tools are free for artists to use and are rapidly adding new functionality in response to feedback from users.
The importance of identifying creators within their credits
Many discussions at the summit emphasised the importance of using unique identifiers for creators within their credits, so that they are not identified by their name alone – which can sometimes lead to errors when there are typos or misspellings, or confusion between performers with the same name – and the importance of verifying that these identifiers are correct.
An important identifier for performers is the International Performer Number (IPN). PPL assigns an IPN to all its performer numbers, and has already partnered with several creator tools to allow PPL performer members to verify their membership and retrieve their IPN into the tool. The performer’s IPN can then accompany their credits and ensure they are uniquely identified in any other databases in which those credits are stored.
RIN, and DDEX’s family of inter-operable standards, are providing the glue that helps organisations to join this creator credits ecosystem and, ultimately, create a more advanced and efficient music industry, with information and money flowing effectively around the world with minimal delay.
If you would like to know more about the developments around creator credits, many of the sessions from this year’s Creator Credits Summit are online for you to re-watch here.