November 9, 2023
In the era of digital music, good quality metadata, which describes who contributed to a track’s creation and how, is essential to making sure music makers are accurately credited and paid. However, metadata is often not as accurate or complete as it should be, in particular in relation to songwriters and their works. In May 2023, the UK Government published the “United Kingdom Agreement on Music Streaming Data” by which signatories, UK collective management organisations and music industry associations, agreed to take steps to improve the provision of music metadata.
Signatories agreed that, during the course of two years, they would collaborate to improve the quality and timeliness of the musical work and songwriter metadata that is associated with new recordings on streaming services so that such data is provided to streaming services in similar timeframes as recording and artist metadata, and that musical works and songwriters are consistently credited on streaming services and identified in relevant reports to music licensors.
To achieve that goal, the signatories agreed to ensure a defined core data set is associated with all new recordings on streaming services. This should include use of the International Standard Musical Work Code (“ISWC“) (a code which is used to identify a song or composition) and an Interested Party Information (“IPI“) number (a code which is assigned to songwriters, composers and music publishers by performing ight organisations and which is attached to the ISWC number). Signatories committed to work with international partners, including CISAC (International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers), to make these identifiers more readily available.
There is also a commitment to follow a code of good practice under which each individual or entity involved in the creation and distribution of music commits to providing, obtaining or using, as appropriate, the core data. For example, releasing parties (music labels, distributors and aggregators) should capture all core data and pass this to service providers (online music streaming services) who, in turn, should ingest all core metadata to enable accurate identification of works and recordings, including ensuring that credits are accurate and visible to users of their services.
Finally, the agreement established expert groups on education and technical solutions. These groups will raise awareness of the importance of metadata throughout the value chain and consider current workflows, data authority, standards, formats and technologies and how to improve them to support the consistent delivery of the core data set.
On 3 November 2023, the IPO issued an invitation to anyone in the music industry involved with music metadata to attend interviews with IPO consultants and members of the technical working group to explore issues such as the use of identifiers and other challenges faced in the collection and use of music metadata.