Music biz unites for Berklee's Open Music Initiative

Music biz unites for Berklee's Open Music Initiative

Major labels, publishers, digital companies and trade bodies have teamed up to take part in a new initiative from the Berklee College of Music’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE). 

The Open Music Initiative (OMI) is intended to simplify the way that music creators and rights-owners are identified and compensated. The effort will combine BerkleeICE’s knowledge of the music industry with the MIT Media Lab’s expertise in decentralised platforms to help advance the development of open source frameworks and innovation related to music rights and their associated uses in all media forms.

The effort has garnered broad support, with more than 50 companies across the music industry ecosystem having signed agreements to participate, including, among others: Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, BMG, Spotify, YouTube, Pandora, SoundCloud, Netflix, SiriusXM, WBUR (Boston’s NPR news station), CD Baby, TuneCore, Downtown Music Publishing, the French collective rights management organisation SACEM, mechanical licensing service provider HFA and its rights management affiliate, Rumblefish, Righsshare, the trade groups Featured Artist Coalition, Music Managers Forum, and Future of Music Coalition..

In addition to BerkleeICE and researchers from the MIT Media Lab Digital Currency Initiative, the OMI working group also includes researchers and faculty from University College London and other leading academic institutions. Operational and strategic guidance will be provided by IDEO, the global design and innovation company, and Context Labs, a media tech company that is leading and coordinating the technical platform for the project. OMI will leverage technology to enable and support the creation of standards for data collection, data reconciliation and file formats. As part of launching the initiative, OMI will host its inaugural gathering on June 22 in New York City with all OMI participants. The initiative will also include a three week innovation lab in Boston, July 11-29, run by BerkleeICE in association with IDEO, which will explore use cases and innovation models.

“It’s not a secret that the infrastructure of the music industry, especially the one around creative rights, has not evolved to accommodate for the ways that music is being created and consumed today,” said Panos Panay, co-founder of OMI and founding managing director of BerkleeICE. “We want to use the brainpower, neutrality and convening ability of our collective academic institutions, along with broad industry collaboration, to create a shared digital architecture for the modern music business. We believe an open sourced platform around creative rights can yield an innovation dividend for creators and rights holders alike.”

Universal Music Group chief technology officer Ty Roberts said: “Innovation is critically needed to address the myriad opportunities and challenges facing artists as technological change transforms every aspect of the digital music ecosystem. We are excited about the prospects of collaborating with this diverse and distinguished group of key players to promote development of comprehensive, fair and efficient compensation structures to capture the value generated by music and music-related content, and properly reward the creative talent responsible for it.”

Dennis Kooker, president, global digital business & US sales, Sony Music Entertainment, added: “Sony Music is pleased to be collaborating with leading companies from across the music industry to explore new shared solutions for exchanging data in a streaming-driven business. We support efforts to enhance the efficiency of the marketplace for rights holders, and we are committed to serving our artists through a number of transparency-related initiatives. This also includes our policies on equity sharing and breakage, as well as our recently relaunched royalty portal, which gives Sony Music artists quick and easy access to robust analytics around their sales and streaming activity.”

Howie Singer, SVP, chief strategic technologist at Warner Music Group, added: “Every advance in music delivery technology has simultaneously expanded the avenues through which the music of artists and songwriters reaches its audience, and presented challenges to ensuring that creators are properly compensated. At WMG, we have long believed that our artists are our partners, and that what is good for them is good for us and for the entire industry. We look forward to working with the members of the OMI to help foster a media rights infrastructure that serves creators and music fans alike.”

Spotify global head of communications Jonathan Price added: "We think transparency across the entire music economy is essential to rewarding artists, songwriters and everyone involved in the creation of music fairly and rapidly. We’re really happy to be part of an effort that is exploring innovative ways to do that with new technologies."

According to Christophe Muller, head of YouTube international music partnerships: "The Open Music Initiative is an important cross-industry effort that addresses the complicated challenges impacting rights management in the digital age. We look forward to working with everyone involved towards solutions that benefit creators and rights-holders, and ensure they are paid transparently, accurately and quickly."

"Creators are at the forefront of everything we do at SoundCloud, as we continue to build a place where all forms of musical creativity can live. As an open platform ourselves, OMI addresses issues that are fundamental to how SoundCloud operates," said Matt Fenby Taylor, VP, creator product & content operations, SoundCloud. "We look forward to working together with OMI, their partners, and our peers to solve this important issue facing the industry, and further enable the open and transparent sharing of data around music, its ownership, and usage."

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