Automated Copyright Administration – Where Technology Meets Process

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In the last two decades, we have watched the music industry explode with innovation. Today, all that is required to listen to nearly any piece of musical content is an internet connection. Likewise, the basic tools necessary for creating said content now come pre-packaged with most computers. The average songwriter harnesses the power to make their work available to the world overnight. These simple facts are often taken for granted, as is the value we assign to music and those who are responsible for bringing it to our devices. In the wake of an unprecedented rush of content, the industry is tasked with making sure that all songwriters are accounted for in a timely, efficient, and accurate manner. Failing to do so will only further validate the feelings of distrust and skepticism that many artists hold towards the music business.

An unfortunate consequence of the modern royalty collection ecosystem is a prioritization of the high-earning works. Our proprietary matching technology called MMatch® enables Muserk to treat long-tail works with the same weight as top-earners. Through a combination of MMatch® and standardized processes, Muserk is capable of handling a massive volume of data while simultaneously minimizing the opportunity for human error. This value-agnostic approach allows us to treat all royalties with the same priority.

Identifying usage has surpassed the scale at which humans alone can reasonably achieve adequate results. Every month tens of millions of sound recordings are streamed on music services in the United States alone. In the beginning, to even reach a starting point where a person could begin analyzing potential matches, they were left to rely upon the only common composition-level data point that exists in most usage data- an ISWC. This means that songs lacking an International Standard Musical Work Code could not receive the attention they deserve, since matching on title or writer alone produces disastrous results. Besides the limitations on accuracy that are inherent with such a process, scaling to a global marketplace could simply not be achieved. With these obstacles in mind, Muserk began developing the MMatch® technology, which is capable of evaluating the relationship between text-based data points such as titles, writers, and artists. Muserk’s data pipelines have evolved to match the work once done by hand and have been enhanced with the capability to handle a wider range of data points. 

A common criticism of employing artificial intelligence to overcome obstacles in royalty collection is that one cannot be entirely sure that a link has been accurately identified. At Muserk, we recognize the truth in this sentiment by acknowledging the critical stages of human analysis that occur prior to pushing newly discovered data to the DSPs. In any industry, technology is meant to aid one in the ability to perform their job. Just like doctors do not rely on heart monitors alone to save the lives of their patients, a rights administrator cannot solely use any piece of software to confidently collect on behalf of their rights holders. While we cannot completely eliminate human interaction in the rights collection process, our data pipelines help us reduce our input to near zero. 

We are evolving our process with every iteration by continuously targeting our biggest bottlenecks and identifying how information can help us make better decisions. With a desire to do more with less we are motivated to continue to reduce the workload required by humans to collect royalties. As the methods through which music enters the marketplace continue to evolve, Muserk will remain an instrumental player in shaping the narrative of modern rights management.

About the author

Colin Moriarty

Colin Moriarty is a rights administrator at Muserk

By Colin Moriarty

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