How Data Can Settle the Debate Over Music Ownership, Rights, and Royalties

By Richard Whittington, SVP, Media and Entertainment, SAP, and Amos Biegun, Global Head, Rights and Royalties, Vistex –

This is the second in a series of exclusive industry insights from SAP. You can read the first here.

For years, music creators, publishers, labels, and technology companies have been locked in bitter disputes over ownership and control, covering everything from beat lines and lyrics to master recordings and samples. Could a recent breakthrough in rights and royalty management end the debate once and for all?

When it comes to licensing music, no one ever really knows who the rightful owners are – yet. Who is the music publisher or the writer’s manager? Do master recordings belong to the record label or the streaming provider? Better yet, should artists and songwriters remain the ultimate owners of their work?

Answering this line of questioning is only becoming more complicated as each of these industry players encroaches on the other’s commercial territory. From business consolidation to technology innovation, a wave of change continues to warp and challenge the whole notion of music ownership, rights, and royalties.

But with recent advancements in rights and royalty management technology, music publishers can settle these disputes with transparency based on data that songwriters, publishers, artists, managers, and labels can use to drive discussions and negotiations.

It all adds up to restored optimism, trust, and creative independence

While many organizations have attempted to develop a global centralized music database, their efforts have historically had limitations. Governing copyrights have become more challenging on the global stage. The volume of licensing and distribution information has exploded to a point where most parties that are responsible for the music are skeptical about the accuracy of the information shared.

But that was then, and this is now. Rights and royalty management technology, such as SAP S/4HANA for rights and royalty management by Vistex, is making this information more transparent than ever. The solution overcomes considerable roadblocks – including differences in languages, laws, cultures, and traditions – while leveraging leading-edge technology such as intelligent data management, real-time analytics, and process automation to bring together value-chain participants who have often been at odds with each other historically.

This “Intelligent Music Enterprise” model, enabled by next-generation ERP, empowers songwriters, artists, managers, and labels to centralize, manage, and analyze massive volumes of data generated from registering copyrights, tracking royalties, and governing licensing terms.

Embedded artificial intelligence, machine learning, and analytics can predict where trends are heading, enabling executives to identify hot up-and-coming talent and determine the best way to position them.

But more importantly, this wealth of insight and forecasting allows every industry player to work together – fairly and profitably.

Putting to rest an era of complex ownership

This latest advancement in rights and royalties management puts publishers in the enviable position as the final arbiter of a long and contentious industry battle.

From administering song catalogs and registering copyrights to licensing catalogs, processing royalties, and paying the right people the right amount, publishers can seamlessly transfer information between all members of the music value chain. And more importantly, they can automate processes to provide the reliability, flexibility, and efficiency needed to restore optimism, trust, and creative independence across the industry.

Find out how SAP S4/HANA for rights and royalty management by Vistex can help your music publishing business win the debate over music ownership, rights, and royalties in the industry.