For the most part, performance rights organizations use an antiquated system to determine the payouts to their members. For radio, it all depends on a survey at certain times of the year that looks at a cross-section of what stations are playing in order to determine the royalties. For streaming, it depends on the data they get from the streaming services. There’s lots of room for error here, and that’s been a complaint over the years. France’s SACEM might have the solution though, with a new cloud-based copyright management system powered by IBM.
The system is called URights, and it uses cognitive search and content analysis technology to provide rights holders with extensive data reporting to not only track usage, but identify trends in the marketplace as well. It’s going to be launched this year, and a major requirement is that it be able to effectively track and process the billions of audio files now consumed on a daily basis around the world
SACEM is actually doing a pretty good job of that already, last year tracking over 980 billion download and streaming transactions (almost twice the previous year’s total) on behalf of its 157,000 members.
Accurate accounting is something that every artist, band and songwriter expects in this digital age of ours, and unfortunately that’s often not what’s provided. Sometimes it’s more of an “in the ballpark” estimate, other times its the accounting provided by the distributor (which history has proven can be way off), and other times it’s determined by a measurement that’s no longer as effective as it could be, given the resources that are available today.
URights is a step in the right direction, but will only serve a small portion of the world. Let’s hope that the US PROs either come up with something similar, or decide to license the SACEM technology in the near future.