Music Reports has a central role in the music rights ecosystem, processing upwards of 250,000 new sound recording metadata rows per day. Many of these are duplicative, but the total number of distinct new recordings is approaching one million per month and growing. Many of these represent recordings of songs that have never been registered anywhere by their owners, cover recordings of which publishers are unaware, or recordings that suffer from metadata anomalies which prevent them from matching to their corresponding song data.
There has been an explosion in the number of songwriters and music publishers contributing to individual hit songs, making music licensing and rights administration increasingly challenging. Using data from its Songdex catalog registry, Music Reports dug into Billboard's annual Top 10 hits from 1960 to the present and found that there is an average of four writers and six publishers associated with top-ranked songs in the 2010s - more than twice the number of writers and three times the number of publishers in the 1960s.
From the LP era of the 1960s through the 1980s, the numbers climb but not dramatically, with an average of approximately two writers and two publishers per song. The real spike begins in the 1990s, and happens to coincide with the emergence of digital music formats (MP3s, the launch of Napster in 1999), resulting in a market need for registration, licensing and reporting systems that could support not only the increased complexity in music rights ownership, but also the exponential consumption of digital music.
Summary of the Songdex analysis: Average number of writers and publishers in each decade, based on Billboard's Top 10 hits of each year:
1960s - 1.87 writers, 1.68 publishers
1970s - 1.95 writers, 2.04 publishers
1980s - 1.95 writers, 2.06 publishers
1990s - 3.13 writers, 3.49 publishers
2000s - 3.50 writers, 4.96 publishers
2010s - 4.07 writers, 6.00 publishers
"Looking at the Songdex data, what's particularly interesting is that the increase in the average number of publishers per song is even greater than that of the number of writers," says Bill Colitre, Vice President and General Counsel of Music Reports, Inc. "This analysis underscores why music licensing, administration and royalty accounting is such a specialized area, and if a company can't maintain a refined, reliable database like Songdex - for all music, whatever the era - they run a real risk of missing critical rights information."
Beyond having and maintaining accurate song data, the success of any music rights administration platform also depends on the reporting and payment systems that rely on that data. "Music Reports has created a system that is easy to use, with reporting details that are clear and correct," says Anne Sete of publisher Graceful Samba Music. "As someone who has created, tested and used a lot of music rights software, I very much appreciate the quality of Music Reports' Songdex registry and reporting platform."
Launched in 2016, the Songdex Claiming System provides a free method for publishers to review data about unmatched tracks, find titles that have not yet matched, and tie them to the publisher’s own song data. The system likewise allows publishers to ensure that all of their existing publishing data is up-to-date, and register new works quickly and easily - all free of charge. With the number of new tracks being commercially released through digital distributors, audio/visual libraries, and UGC platforms approaching one million per month, the system rectifies one of the biggest issues in the modern music publishing business by providing the first platform for comprehensive, intuitive matching and claiming.
Additional benefits for publishers include the ability to collect outstanding royalties (commission free) that may be due on shares of songs licensed through co-publishers or the Copyright Office; find new, non-statutory licensing opportunities offered through the platform; and obtain sound recording metadata, often discovering new cover recordings of their catalog.
“We knew when launching the Songdex Claiming System that publishers would gradually realize how valuable a tool it is, and with more than one million tracks claimed, it’s safe to say people are catching on,” says Bill Colitre, Vice President and General Counsel of Music Reports, Inc. “And while we’re excited that so many publishers have now experienced the unprecedented transparency and access the system provides, we’re even more excited to see that publisher engagement with the system has been accelerating over the past three quarters.”
Publishers looking to access the Songdex Claiming System can do so through their free Music Reports web account, where they can also view royalty statements and consider various licensing opportunities.