I looked for a job at a publisher or label and found Music Reports. At that
time, Music Reports had existed for about 15 years and they were providing
services for television broadcasters and songwriters, securing direct deals
between those parties. The initial idea to invoke the Section 115 license
was invented here around the time I started and they needed to build
systems. It really piqued my interest.
Music Reports is a neutral technology platform
that services both users and owners of intellectual property rights. Our
main goal is to supply technology into the intellectual property rights
ecosystem to supply transparency throughout the process of distribution,
royalty payments, fee settlements, licensing and all that stuff.
Our mandate is to create a transparent pipe
from the usage of copyrights all the way through to the royalty payment.
Each copyright owner can see their clear usage in a specific month on a
specific media type, whether it be broadcast, digital streaming, downloading
or live streaming. We create that facility to ensure everybody gets paid in
a transparent way and can track each play that ties to their intellectual
Songdex is our internal database. Initially,
Music Reports was formed to help television broadcasters license the music
they used in their original local programming. Most of that music was going
into the collective rights management organizations or performing rights
societies. It was not a very transparent ecosystem, so we created a facility
for the creators of that music to interact with television stations, license
that music and then collect the royalties for use of that music on
broadcasts directly so they wouldn't have to go to a collective management
organization, wait for them to process that content, be subject to the
administrative fees those folks charge and just get their royalties
directly. Songdex.com has a lot of tools to help creators disseminate their
metadata to make sure every user of music has their information and knows
how to monetize their content and pay for it in the right way.
A sister database to Songdex is Cuetrak.
Cuetrak is the largest database of cue sheets on the planet. Cue sheets are
a list of musical cues used in audio/visual programming. Everybody who
creates A/V programming is required to generate these things. It ensures
that broadcasters and streamers always have up-to-date information about the
ownership of the music they're using in their programming.
A good third of Music Reports is operation and
resources dedicated to copyright research. These are musicologists who are
researching music all day long, helping publishers understand their place in
the publishing ecosystem, curate metadata and getting that into Songdex.
Songdex.com is a public view of that data--so
it's song recordings tied to musical compositions, publisher ownership
shares, international identifiers like IPI (Interested Parties Information)
codes, international sound recording codes like ISRCs (International
Standard Recording Codes)... Songdex.com is going to soon have additional
functionality meant to help small creators curate their own metadata. It's
going to help them understand what data they need to disseminate to make
sure they get paid transparently and quickly.
Many Versions = Many Payees
Most works are not created by one entity. And
those [creators] may be represented by different publishers, different
performing rights societies, and that data related to the ownership of that
information will come in pieces. If a work is split between five folks, five
different data deliveries will take place. Music Reports will have to marry
that data into one Songdex record and then of course tie it to all the
versions of the sound recordings that embody that composition.
The volume of the music business has grown
astronomically in the last 20 years. More music is released on a quarterly
basis than in all of the 20th century. Metadata is constantly flowing into
Music Reports and we have the challenge of tying all that information
together. That influx of data creates about 12 terabytes of data churn on a
Independence and Other Products
Music Reports is a fairly unique animal from
the perspective of our neutrality and place in the world. Even the Harry Fox
Agency is owned by SESAC. Music Reports is truly a neutral technology
platform that provides services to anyone who has a challenge in the
intellectual property space.
We actually build and host systems for
non-musical intellectual property rights as well. We're the backend for
Cirque du Soleil, which of course uses a lot of music but they also market a
lot of physical merchandise. We manage that intellectual property process.
We're constantly working with new media
companies. We're working with the premier virtual reality provider,
MelodyVR. We're working with live streaming companies like Flipagram and
Musical.ly. As media expands and intellectual properties get used in
different ways, Music Reports has the solutions for them. We're working with
a lot of instructional applications as well. Music Reports is constantly
scouring the marketplace for these emerging media types
What's exciting is that music is not just
seeing its core monetization in actual sale or subscription but audio/visual
broadcast. There's a big opportunity for creators on platforms like Netflix,
Amazon Prime Video or Hulu. Apple has billion dollar budgets for creating
new, original programing. They need music for all that programming.
Sign Your Work
From the inception of creation, folks need to
think about signing their work. You wouldn't know a Picasso unless he signed
it. It's the same concept here. And to sign your work we need the relevant
metadata. You need to secure that data and get it to the core places. Be
mindful of the data as you're in the creative process.
Everybody here loves music. That's a common
thread amongst the whole company. We're about 130 folks right now and I
would say 115 of us are musicians. There are about 20 internal bands. This
is important to us not just academically but personally. We're not just pure
technologists-- we have a real stake in these outcomes.