Dissecting the Digital Dollar – Extract 5 – Copyright Data

22 March 2017

The Music Managers Forum has long campaigned for a fairer, more transparent music industry that operates in the interest of artists and fans.  We published Dissecting the Digital Dollar parts 1 and 2 to further that aim regarding streaming. Both are available here. These bite-sized extracts summarise each issue and propose practical courses of action for managers and artists. This extract will focus on copyright data.

Everyone agrees that bad music rights data is making the processing of digital royalties inefficient, though there is less consensus on what the solution may be. 

Many managers feel that the CMOs are best equipped to tackle this challenge, and should therefore be encouraged to do so. In particular, record industry and publishing sector CMOs should be encouraged to collaborate in a bid to identify which songs appear in which recordings.

But not everyone agrees that the CMOs should lead on this, some questioning whether rivalries between societies, or a fear that better data could further reduce the role of the collecting societies in digital licensing, will hinder their efforts.

However data begins when the creative process starts when it is finished. To that end artists and managers need to prioritise the collection and fixation of data and not leave it to others.

Actions for Managers/Artists:

  1. The terms and conditions that apply to creation can be agreed and fixed before the process starts. Managers and their artists should recognize this and complete negotiations promptly.
  2. A number of different solutions have emerged that might facilitate the fixation of data. Managers and artists need to establish which ones should be supported recognizing that most (but not all) data needs to be accessible by all and be in common ownership.
  3. Managers and artists need to be aware of what data is required for correct attribution and therefore payment of all creators in the process. Songwriting splits and payments to non-featured artists are items that need careful attention. The MMF will educate its members in these processes.
  4. Blockchain technology may well provide future solutions but all solutions are still going to need the input of correct data at the start.
  5. Managers and the MMF can provide leadership to resolve the competing parties in the recorded music business and so deliver one definitive database that enables all parties to be paid correctly. The CMOs have a leading role to play in this process but governmental influence may be required to make this happen.

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