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Music 4.5 and CMU Trends put the spotlight back on data challenges

By | Published on Monday 25 September 2017

Spotify’s ongoing legal wranglings over unpaid mechanical royalties in the US – and the songwriter community’s increasingly vocal campaign to get credits on the streaming platforms – are two stories that ultimately originate in the same issue. The lack of a decent publicly accessible music rights database that tells streaming services what songs are contained in what recordings, and who wrote and published those songs.

This issue has been debated within the music community for years, of course, and various initiatives are underway attempting to solve the problem. This week Music 4.5 puts the spotlight back on data at its latest London event, and the music rights data challenge will be on the agenda, alongside other big data and machine learning topics, including the emerging role of chatbots.

Ahead of that, CMU Trends has published the customary ‘story so far’ report pre-empting the Music 4.5 proceedings, focusing on the music rights data dilemma, which includes input from four of the speakers who will appear at this Thursday’s event: Metabrainz’s Robert Kaye, Auddly’s Helienne Lindvall, JAAK’s Vaughn McKenzie and Blokur’s Phil Barry.

Kaye founded MusicBrainz – the publicly accessible “open music encyclopaedia” that already aggregates, through crowd-sourcing, the music metadata that is public domain – and he reckons that addressing the music rights data issue is more about industry politics than technological challenges.

“If every label and publisher could set up an API that gives the public access to their repertoire data, copyright status, and so on, this would go a long way towards building a system where no one has to give up their cherished control over their own data”, he says.

He goes on: “People and companies wishing to license content could easily discover who owns the copyright to a particular song or recording; this API could also provide licensing terms for said content in an effort to streamline the whole process. Conflicting copyright claims and policing the actors in this system would need to be carefully addressed. But I can see a non-profit ombudsman providing API standards, reference implementations and conflict resolution services”.

Kaye adds that “this system could be implemented quite cheaply – as long as you engaged the right people – without entities giving up control over their data”. Though, Kaye adds, while the potential solution could be relatively simple and cost efficient, that doesn’t make him optimistic that any solution is incoming. “Any sort of broad co-operation like this is still wishful thinking in the music industry”.

The full CMU Trends article looks at how different stakeholders can be persuaded to participate in meeting this challenge, the role artists and songwriters have to play, and why everyone was talking about the blockchain last year. Premium subscribers can access the article online or as a PDF download here. To go premium for £5 a month click here.

The Music 4.5 event ‘Global Data, Blockchain And Chatbots…A New Economic Model Of Participation?’ takes place at the London HQ of Lewis Silkin this Thursday, 28 Sep, at 2pm. Full info and tickets here.



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