Musimorphoses – How to reach a better and more open music metadata eco-system

Indexing at the source by creators, quality of descriptive Small Data, direct allocation of unique ID’s to ease tracking of content – here are the subjects I addressed in Paris at the Musimorphoses conference on November 13th.

In 2008, François-Xavier Nutall, Consultant supérieur / Technology Intelligence at CISAC, presented a visionary keynote on the music metadata eco-system of the near future. Seven years later, lots of it never saw the light of day even if the industry agrees that the current state of digital documentation is far from flawless. My presentation at the Musimorphoses conference this week in Paris will draw from this proposed model and compare it with the current initiatives.

For reference, here is the translation of FX Nutall classic keynote on unique identifiers for the music industry.

This video was shot at the 2008 WIPO conference on collective rights management held in Brussels. François-Xavier Nutall, Consultant supérieur / Technology Intelligence for CISAC, gives a great rap on how unique IDs must be used by the music industry to ease the rights reporting systems. One can wonder what remains from this original vision.

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Now that DRM are a thing of the past, we need alternative informations to identify musical works and contents and to allow efficient collective management. Il will try to explain you the new panorama.

Technology has strong impact on rights management. First, rights generated by a single musical transaction have dropped dramatically : 15 cents of Euros for selling a CD, 8 cents of Euros for selling a download and 0,002 of an Euro for an on-line radio stream. Second, monthly transactions received by collective rights management societies are on a drastic rise : 20 millions in 2008, 70 millions in 2010 and an expected 100 millions monthly transactions in 2012. These are transactions our computer systems will need to process. Third, consequence of unlimited digital storage space, the number of recordings available is rising from currently 8 millions to an expected 12 millions in 2012 on iTunes. This is what we need to anticipate.

What should we do about this? Let me give some examples of how inter-related unique identifiers could be used to address these matters. You may already know ISAN, the audiovisual and film identifier. Most films include a soundtrack made of several different recordings who should all correspond to each a unique recording standard ISRC code. Ideally there should be a direct link created between a single ISAN and all of the ISRC for the sound recordings present in its soundtrack. Lets keep on. Each recording encompasses an underlying composition or musical work identified by an ISWC. A one on one link will be created between all ISRC and its corresponding composition ISWC. There is currently efforts involved to allow future automated matching of recordings and works. Rights collectives receive sales reports based on recordings information. We must therefore translate those recordings into corresponding work titles to be able to pay back lyricists and composers. We’ve already mentioned the explosion of transaction volumes, if we don’t increase auto-matching at CMO’s level, we will crumble under management costs.

Lets move further. Also exists the ISMN International Standard for Music Notation for musical charts or the ISTC for texts and which can be applied to song lyrics. Any recordings ISRC can therefore have its matching ISTC if it includes lyrics. Give me the chance to expand on the most recently born identifier, the ISNI or International Standard Name Identifier. CISAC is chairing the development if this new ISO ID which will cover all cultural creative industries – music, audiovisual, literature or photography to name a few. ISNI is a cross-industry bridge identifier. Lets now see how it works – to prevent anyone being afraid of clashes with the CISAC IPI proprietary identifier. ISNI will allow to travel from a creative sector to another. The IPN is the International Performer Number identifier allowing neighbouring rights to be paid out. Its now very difficult to establish a link between the IPI and the IPN, there is no formal bridge between both. We cannot create correspondence between performers and creators. By bringing together both components into a common consortium to allow the ISNI to thrive, it will be possible to create automated matches between such domains. IPI, IPN or the Library of Congress will join efforts around this universal identifier.

The ISNI is made of 16 digits allowing for several thousands of billion combinations. It should be fit for future generations. In this example using Madonna, the metadata used is the name of the lead performer as well as disambiguation data like the date of birth – August 16th and the location of birth – Michigan, to discriminate between possible homonyms. The ISNI database will then offer links to additional data sources. Without disclosing these infos, the ISNI will lead to the IPI and allow to search Madonna for her creators credentials. In a similar scenario using the IDA database, one will be able to search for Madonna data as an actress or director in an audiovisual production.

ISNI will see the light of day via a cross-industry consortium in charge of operating an International-Agency. The agency will be responsible for building, managing and making the database available to search engines like Google or Exalead, to allow for serious, granular searches. We have started obtaining commitments on the project from CISAC, IFRRO and OCLC. Neighbouring rights collective ADAMI in France and GRAMEX in Danemark have given us their support and we could envision the creation of an umbrella structure to allow more neighbouring rights collective to join. We could discuss such proposal with AEPO-ARTIS if it respects their mandate. We have also secured collaborations with the British Library, Bibliothèque Nationale de France and the Library of Congress. We can already count on a large cross-industry consensus and you can contact me if you wish to join.

François-Xavier Nutall WIPO 2008 Classic Keynote on ISRC, ISWC, IPI and ISNI music IDs from iconoclaste musique on Vimeo.

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