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Global Repertoire Database Declared a Global Failure…

prsstatement

(Official statement posted by UK-based rights society PRS for Music on prsformusic.com

 

Imagine a massive, global database of every song ever created, worldwide, with a complete listing of every rights owner.  Now, keep imaging that.  

According to an official white flag issued by PRS for Music, the Global Repertoire Database (GRD) will not be moving forward, despite significant investments north of £8 million (or $13.7 million in USD).   That money is now somewhere in the music industry ether, as critical contributions from participating collection societies and publishers never materialized.

Which means that searching, finding, and paying for the use of a song worldwide will remain a hopelessly complicated, nearly-impossible headache.

The vision behind the Global Repertoire Database was deceptively simple, but perhaps unfathomably complex: to facilitate easy licensing and payment on virtually any musical work, with available information spanning publishers, artists, labels, administrators, and appropriate collection societies.

Sounds unfathomably complex, except that complex problems can be resolved if the participants want them to be resolved.  But in the case of GRD, there is significant evidence that enough stakeholders didn’t want this to succeed. “Some argue that having the societies involved in this venture at all, beyond becoming data providers, is counterproductive, because if and when the publishers start licensing digital services directly, an efficient repertoire database would render the societies redundant in that domain,noted Complete Music Update journalist Chris Cooke.

“And with the bigger societies all busy expanding their digital and multi-territory operations, they won’t want that.”

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Comments (15)
  1. Chris H

    Who didn’t see this coming from the get go? As nobody wants to work themselves out of a job, such was this exercise. It certainly can be done, but it will take actual government intervention to make that happen and a redefining of what a PRO is for this dream to ever come to fruition. And the merge with DDEX and the sound recording world.

    There is not really a good reason why it shouldn’t exist other than politics.


    Reply
    1. Paul Resnikoff

      Call me jaded, but developments like these make me think this industry deserves its fate.


      Reply
      1. Chris H

        Jaded is the first sign you have a future in the business…means you are smart enough to survive.

        There is an upside to it. It means companies like Google can’t get to everyone easily and offer them dog shit as a royalty, take it or leave it. As screwed as everything is, that is the best you get to a silver lining.

        The music business will not become lucrative again until:

        1. The music business gets organized for the new century.
        2. Tech companies decide to be ethical and cut out all the bullshit.
        3. The government forces both sides to accomplish #1 and #2.


        Reply
        1. Jabsco

          Not true. YouTube is the GRD.


          Reply
          1. Anon

            YouTube did purchase RIghtsFlow, so I’m sure their rights DB is as big, if not bigger than everyone else’s. Having said that, by no means does this cover anywhere near all the copyright information out there for music publishing. As for the comments about PROs being against this, I’m not sure how true that is. At least in the US, PROs are mainly in the business of granting blanket licenses (covering thousands of compositions) for the public performance of music. I’m not sure how an all-compassing DB changes this at all. There’s no way a licensee is going to request a radio play license on a song by song basis. Some sort of organization is still needed to represent huge catalogs of music.


            Reply
          2. Chris H

            If your north american, youtube is pretty complete. But how much of that indie stuff is registered fully (publisher/writer and sound recording) with Rightsflow? My guess is very little.


            Reply
        2. Sebastian Wolff

          Bingo. Except it will have to be an internationally-established organization that makes accessible, and standardizes, the information, and how it can be disseminated. Then again, WIPO tried and failed. CISAC and GEMA currently seem to have the most up-to-date and reliable publishing information.

          Researching ownership of works, unless present in HFA, is usually a series of phone calls between various publishers, a label, HFA, and at least one PRO, since nobody seems to have any concrete idea of who owns what share, and why, and on whose authority.


          Reply
      2. music supervisors do this daily

        It’s not impossible. Music Supervisors do this day in, day out, all day, everyday… It’s really remarkable that everyone overlooks that despite how “impossible” clear song rights are (master and publishing) that it IS happening everyday by Music Supervisors.

        Now of course, maybe people don’t want to hire professional music supervisors and rights clearances specialists, but really – this is NOT impossible and the lack of the GRD does not stop rights from being cleared… GLOBALLY, every single day.


        Reply
        1. Musicservices4less

          Ditto


          Reply
        2. Ritch Esra

          You’re right. It is being done every day, but that’s in the Film/TV Licensing world. This isn’t about ability, it’s far more about control. Everyone (Music Publisher Rights Holders) wants to hold on to these rights especially when the US government changes the decent decrees for the Music Publishers, then they will the right to handle the licensing of digital platforms themselves. It’s very short sighted, I have to agree with Paul; they truly deserve the fate that they have brought upon themselves.


          Reply
      3. hippydog

        Quote Call me jaded, but developments like these make me think this industry deserves its fate.

        no kidding..
        The industry actually needs this..
        if for nothing else but to make things simpler and actually get the money to the people.


        Reply
  2. Willis

    I would expect nothing less.


    Reply
  3. Sebastian Wolff

    I can’t say I’m surprised. Delayed deadlines, scope creep, lack of enthusiastic publisher support; etc.

    I am however thoroughly convinced that with the right resources and plan, building such a database is possible. CWR needs an overhaul. PRO’s databases around the world are out of date. DDEX’s upcoming Works Licensing standard looks promising as a base-line, but like any standard (look at ERNM), it has derivations, which stray from the original mission of data conformity and semantic data standards. It also would just address the information exchange between two parties who, in theory, have systems that support DDEX.

    I believe that making a database of rights accessible to anyone researching works is pivotal to the future of the publishing industry. Remind me, how many billions are lost every year due to lack of proper rights management, inconsistent data, lack of verifiability, systems and database that don’t speak to each other, publishers who still rely on spreadsheets rather than structured data, publishers who still rely on faxing information, and endless rows of cabinets filled with license information as a substitute for digital organization– the list goes on. I think there’s a better way.


    Reply
  4. Frank Nascimento

    It seems that there is a general (miss)understanding that a GRD would make the PROs obsolete. So anxiety may play a big role because they don’t see that their services are still needed.
    As a composer and producer I strongly believe that the world needs a global database that goes a step further. The master recordings (independent and major labels) should be collected on the same database, supported by advanced tracking, which is very much needed by the PROs, publisher, labels, writers – everybody in the industry from independent to major.
    If the different companies developing digital fingerprinting would combine their efforts, it could even make sense for them to host the global database which is then fed by all PROs, who affiliate, and all musicians, labels, producers, etc.
    Affiliation with ISWC is already in place, so obviously the model works.
    I am aware that there are a few factors I don’t quite see but I think that planning to include the master recordings in the database may actually change the opposition’s mind.


    Reply
  5. Frank Nascimento

    It seems that there is a general (miss)understanding that a GRD would make the PROs obsolete. So anxiety may play a big role because they don’t see that their services are still needed.
    As a composer and producer I strongly believe that the world needs a global database that goes a step further. The master recordings (independent and major labels) should be collected on the same database, supported by advanced tracking, which is very much needed by the PROs.
    If the different companies developing digital fingerprinting would combine their efforts, it could even make sense for them to host the global database which is then fed by all PROs, who affiliate, and all musicians, labels, producers, etc.
    Affiliation with ISWC is already in place, so obviously the model works.
    I am aware that there are a few factors I don’t quite see but I think that planning to include the master recordings in the database may actually change the opposition’s mind.


    Reply

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