Universal Music Is Geeking Out on Open Source

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Ever since Cisco abandoned Warner Music Group, proprietary solutions are getting a totally different look at labels.

Actually, one connected source told Digital Music News that Warner is currently considering another proprietary partnership, though post-sale, things are understandably in the air. But this time around, the risks of that direction are much easier to see, and less control is suddenly getting more attractive.

Case in point?  On Monday morning at SF MusicTech Summit, Universal Music Group digital executive Lee Hammond was discussing the implementation of an open source platform: Backplane.  The system allows easy user authentication between different widgets, instead of requiring separate sign-ins and complicated experiences.  So, imagine a typical artist website with all sorts of different widgets and feeds – and then multiply that times hundreds of artists – and you get the idea.

Universal’s Backplane implementation already includes websites for Lady Gaga, OneRepublic, and JLo, for starters.  “We’re turning them on every week…. and on the first implementations we’re walking them through it,” Hammond told Digital Music News.  But that’s just the beginning, and there’s an aggressive plan – starting with North America.  “We are looking to flip and bring as much of North America on this platform I want to say by July.”

Overseas is a little more “fragmented,” though “on-boarding them will probably be the balance of the year.”  Hammond has been talking to global digital heads, and meeting with acceptance.

Hammond also found that the Cisco mess helped his evangelizing efforts.  “I felt like it landed in my lap,” Hammond noted.  One huge issue with systems like those, according to Hammond, is the inability to separate user registration data from the consolidated content management system (or, CMS in geek-talk).  And, that’s a packaged mess Warner is picking through right now. “Everything we’re talking about is isolating your technology into different stacks.  And one of those stacks is our fan data.”