AES Section Meeting Reports

Pacific Northwest - October 20, 2020

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Metadata (often called data about data) may refer to many things, but the October 2020 PNW Section meeting focused on data about audio recordings that is used for professional credit or payment. Jim Rondinelli (Immersion Networks) chaired a panel discussing this with Maureen Droney (Recording Academy P & E Wing), Dick Huey (Jaxsta), and Vickie Nauman (CrossBorder Works). 17 AES members and 31 total attended via Zoom.

Jim noted that we need data to help people find and use our recordings with today's digital distribution. Just today (Oct 20), 50k new tracks were added to Spotify, each with maybe dozens of creators, each due payment and credits if the recording is distributed. With metadata, you facilitate proper credit and compensation; and allow finding music, such as a search by genre, by a session musician or by tempo (a huge aspect for the fitness music market).

Jim also explained some acronyms used.
-DDEX - entity that works on data interchange in the industry
-ISRC - international standard recording code
-ISWC - international standard musical works code
-ISNI - international standard Name Identifier (standardize artist names)
-RIN - Recording Information Notification file

Maureen said that with today's digital music distribution, we are playing catch up with labelling, credits, and payment. The old system built on LPs and CDs does not cut it, and the digital services don't have a good substitute for the old liner notes credits and even things like AFM reports. Before, there were liner notes, producers, and execs giving approvals & credits. Now, most of that is gone, and no one logs the studio info, so it's up to the engineers/producers, which may be you.

Vickie spoke on the Music Modernization Act of 2018, which starts January 2021 - Real Soon Now. It centralizes publishing info and should be a big leap forward for metadata use. Until this, recordings are not linked to the credits, so rights agencies have to match master recordings with credits/publishing. So much music, so many creators, and your money is being lost.

Jim gave some money stats: Universal Music Group (UMG) reported $1B USD in digital music sales the past quarter. That's maybe $150M just from UMG, so maybe $1/2B in royalties total/quarter. If an artist takes a few extra months to figure the rights shares, or you have a typo, payments can be stalled or lost.

Dick spoke about Jaxsta, which is a music metadata platform that displays "official" data obtained by official sources such as labels. We had liner notes in the old days that had all the info, but that's all gone. Unofficial data sprung up, like Wikipedia, Discogs, etc. but they are fan driven and prone to errors.

Mastering engineer Steve Turnidge then gave some demos of current software such as Roon, which is a metadata aggregator for handling your music files. It licenses its data from common databases like iTunes and Tidal, shows data like super liner notes and plays the music from your choice of Tidal, qobuz or locally on your device. It costs $120/yr. He also showed, which finds credits using AI (where something like Jaxsta takes official input), and, which can find music from metadata.

Some final thoughts from the panel included Vickie, warning about procrastinating in collecting and submitting your metadata. Do it as part of the producing. You can lose a year's worth of royalties. Jim mentioned that the royalty pool is like a Black Box, where royalties not payable get redistributed - if you don't take your money, someone else gets your money! Also there are buyers of royalty streams, like investments. You need the metadata to be paid. Maureen pointed to a document from the P&E Wing showing 20 basic pieces of data to collect on a project ( Dick noted that Jaxsta lets you claim your credits/profile with an account, and free Pro accounts are available through 2020. He likes to call this situation the 3 Cs: Creation, Collation, and Commerce, and commerce is directly tied to metadata

A lively Q&A session finished the evening. The full version of the report will be archived at the PNW website, with media.

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AES - Audio Engineering Society