Metadata delivery is a hot topic at SXSW this year. On a panel about data featuring representatives from two large digital aggregators, a question from the audience raised a salient issue: If retailers are being sued because they are not licensing songs properly, is it even possible for labels or aggregators to deliver song share information to retailers directly?
If aggregators were able to collect the split data on songs, particularly the long tail, at the time the tracks were “ingested” into the aggregators systems, would that do any good if the retailers aren’t set up to take delivery.
One aggregator said that they didn’t collect publisher information “because publishers change all the time.” That’s really not entirely true. Another said that they don’t require the information, and that they don’t collect splits. That suggests that the information is being collected for credits purposes.
In a separate conversation with a songwriter, it turns out that she had been told by a third aggregator that they don’t collect the data because the retailers don’t accept delivery of it. Between those three aggregators, I would guess that they cover over 50% of the market, and probably closer to 2/3.
This is pretty good anecdotal evidence that even if the “global rights database” existed, retailers would be unable to take full advantage of it without retooling their systems. At the moment, it seems that the consensus thinking at aggregators is that since the retailers don’t collect the information, why bother requiring it as delivery item?
Aside from the fact that the market is failing to produce the information from an accurate source (the sound recording owner) at a key moment when transaction costs would be lowest (before the track and song go live).