Tag Archives: Transparency

Tracking Down Publishers

Wall Street Journal’s Ethan Smith has a good piece today, written with admirable clarity, about some of the difficulties in tracking down publisher royalties. A proposed solution:

“The NMPA is contemplating a proposal simply to apportion the unclaimed royalties based on its members’ market share.”

I think it would be more productive to ask or compel record labels to share publisher/songwriter information for their recordings.

“Songwriter and publisher information isn’t typically included in the “metadata” that record companies include with songs when they upload them to services making it difficult for the service to know whom to pay.”

Labels do have this information for some (if not all) of their catalogs, but since they don’t have to share it, other companies have to piece it together. It would be helpful for services to have this information. In the meantime, companies like mine are working hard to track down every rights holder.

On Transparency

When I defended my master’s thesis, one of my committee members took me to task for not providing my definition of the term “meter”. My thesis was about hypermeter, which – without getting too into the weeds – is the hearing of a piece’s meter on a larger, more structural scale. Meter, of course, is the alternation of strong and weak beats. Of course.


I never explicitly gave that definition in my thesis. I was stung by the criticism for a long time. While it was the central principal of my thesis, I knew my (small handful of) readers had a shared understanding of the term.

It dawned on me later what my committee member was getting at. It didn’t matter what meter already means to the reader. If I was going to be making strong arguments about something, I had to be very clear in my definition of the term. Especially if I was going to be using it repeatedly.

I’ve been reading Berklee School of Music’s report on transparency in the music industry. I haven’t finished it yet (because I have an upcoming music festival on my mind), but one of my first impressions is their reliance on the word “transparency”. What does that mean to them, exactly? Will it become the new buzzword in the industry? Will every company start to say they’re being transparent without actually changing anything? We need some real, achievable benchmarks.

I’m biased on this one because I think my company was ahead of the game. I work on our content team, and previously on our rights team. We work hard to attribute works to the correct composers and recording artists. We literally have people working on this issue around the world and around the clock. To read more about our definition of transparency – linking writing & recording credits at the source – check out my company’s recent Medium post.

I have lots of thoughts on the Berklee study, so I hope to do another post at some point! Stay tuned.