The move is designed to increase ownership transparency in performing rights licensing.
ASCAP and BMI, the nation’s two leading performing rights organizations, have joined forces to create what they call “a single, comprehensive database of musical works from their combined repertories that will deliver an authoritative view of ownership shares in the vast majority of music licensed in the United States.”
Expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2018, the first-of-its-kind database will feature aggregated song ownership data from ASCAP and BMI and offer greater transparency to music users and the industry.
A team of copyright, technical and data experts from BMI and ASCAP began working on the project over one year ago, in anticipation of the demand from licensees and the industry for more clarity around ownership shares. The database, which will be publicly available initially via ASCAP’s and BMI’s websites, will feature aggregated information from BMI’s and ASCAP’s repertories and will indicate where other performing rights organizations may have an interest in a musical work.
The joint database will serve as a foundation that can evolve to include a broader range of music information across the entire industry.
Elizabeth Matthews, ASCAP CEO, said: “ASCAP and BMI are proactively and voluntarily moving the entire industry a step forward to more accurate, reliable and user-friendly data. We believe in a free market with more industry cooperation and alignment on data issues. Together, ASCAP and BMI have the most expertise in building and managing complex copyright ownership databases. With our combined experience, we are best positioned to make faster headway in creating a robust, cost effective market solution to meet the needs of the licensing marketplace.”
Mike O’Neill, BMI president-CEO, added: “This is an important solution for the marketplace created by the experts who know their data best. We have always advocated for data transparency and supported the need for a user-friendly and comprehensive solution that would benefit music users and music creators alike. While BMI and ASCAP remain fierce competitors in all other regards, we recognize that our combined expertise allows us to create the best solution for our members and the marketplace. We’re excited by our momentum and the promise of what this database can become in the future.”
The respective teams are analyzing, testing and reconciling the data from each organization, addressing incomplete and/or incorrect registrations, share splits, U.S. representation of international works and complicated ownership disputes, among other things. They are now testing the combined data sets in a cloud platform, and the results of that analysis will serve as the foundation for the joint database.
The joint database will roll out in phases with Phase One expected to launch by the end of 2018, and include the majority of ASCAP and BMI registered songs. It will be secure, user-friendly and searchable and will be updated as new information becomes available. Future phases will explore customizable, interactive API solutions and the potential inclusion of other databases.
ASCAP’s and BMI’s respective databases will continue to be available on each organization’s respective website during the creation and initial launch of the joint database.