Meet the Team: Anna Sparkes, Repertoire Data Analysis Manager

What made you want to be part of PPL – and what were you doing before?

Prior to joining PPL, I spent four years working at the BBC where I focused on audience measurement and research. My role was to explore how many viewers and listeners were consuming the BBC’s programmes on radio and TV. Before that, I worked in the Insight team at Bauer Media, on magazine brands including Heat, Empire and Grazia.

Getting to grips with the complexities of licensing and royalties definitely took some time, but the positive and collaborative environment at PPL and getting the chance to dig into music data every day has made the last ten years very enjoyable!

Tell us about a typical day in your role?

I lead a team of data analysts and our primary focus is analysing and reporting on data about recordings. The data is used to distribute revenue to our members so it’s important that it’s as complete and accurate as possible, so quality auditing is key.

We look at how many recordings are registered, by which rightsholders, and the quality of those registrations. We also track usage, monitoring how recordings are being used by licensees and in which programmes or services. And we make sure we understand the volumes of usage, how that’s trending over time, and how usage patterns differ depending on whether the recording is used by, for example, a specialist radio station, a reality TV show or a coffee shop.

I work closely with departments across the business including Distribution, Licensing, Communications, Technology and Member Services and regularly liaise with external licensees on reporting formats, data quality improvements or new services.

Tens of thousands of recordings are registered with us every week. We process millions of lines of data relating to billions of seconds of airplay for thousands of different usage sources, matching data to over a million recordings.

What are some of the biggest challenges? 

The varying quality of data is a constant challenge. Analysing usage data relating to the on-demand consumption and secondary sales of television programmes is an extremely complicated area too. I work closely with colleagues in Licensing and Distribution to identify the reporting and processing requirements, then with licensees to source comprehensive information about which recordings are being used in particular programmes.

In some cases, it can be difficult for the licensee to provide the detail we need, like the version of a recording or the duration used, in a suitable format in a reasonable timeframe. It’s vital we get the right metadata so our members are paid correctly.

How have you seen PPL make a positive impact for the artists and organisations you work with?

PPL established the PPL Momentum Music Fund to help artists take their career to the next stage through grants that support their work.

It’s a great initiative and last year, my team analysed the data of artists supported by the Fund and found that their airplay had increased after receiving the support from PPL Momentum Music Fund. Not only does that help raise the artists profile, but it also means bigger royalty payments for them too.

What’s the most rewarding thing about your job?

I feel very lucky to lead a brilliant, motivated team who are passionate about what they do.

They bring our data to life, whether that’s developing high-quality dashboards that provide vital insights to the business, finding innovative ways to automate reporting, or producing airplay charts that allow us to share data about our most-played recordings in an engaging way.

What are you most excited about in the music world?

It was fantastic to see the success of so many female acts at this year’s Brit Awards – in particular Raye winning a record-breaking six awards!

What’s a track that always makes you smile – and why? 

Growing up it was all about Blur and Pulp. Tracks I often find myself coming back to include Say What You Will by James Blake, and Don’t Delete the Kisses by Wolf Alice.

And finally, what new track should everyone have on their playlist?

Having three daughters, who dominate the music in my household with their kitchen discos, keeping up with new music is harder than it used to be! But I’d recommend listening to Broken Man by St Vincent, which also features Dave Grohl on drums.