In a rare show of unity, the rival U.S. performing right associations ASCAP and BMI have teamed up to build a one-of-a-kind database of musical works from their combined repertories that should help music creators and the industry navigate the complicated space of licensing in the U.S.
According to a joint statement, teams of copyright, technical and data experts have worked for more than a year on the new database which, when complete, will offer authoritative views of ownership splits and other detail about millions of copyright-protected works.
Transparency and accuracy are paramount to what’s been described as a groundbreaking initiative, one which will “serve as a foundation that can evolve to include a broader range of music information across the entire industry, both parties boast in a statement issued Thursday (Australia time).
The joint database will include much of same information already available on the PROs’ respective sites including song and composition titles, performing artist info, aggregated shares broken down by societies, unique identifiers like the International Standard Work Codes and IP names and numbers.
“ASCAP and BMI are proactively and voluntarily moving the entire industry a step forward to more accurate, reliable and user-friendly data,” Elizabeth Matthews, CEO, ASCAP explains in a statement.
“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.”
Her opposite number at BMI, its president and CEO Mike O’Neill, adds: “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 recognise 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.”
According to both partners, the industry tool will be secure, searchable and constantly updated, and will be publicly available initially via ASCAP’s and BMI’s own websites.
The news has been welcomed by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), an advocate for songwriters and publishers, who described the project as a “substantive step forward in helping modernise the music industry.” He noted,, “ASCAP and BMI are working together to better serve songwriters, publishers, licensees, and the entire music community through a free-market solution that leverages industry expertise and efficiencies.”
Organisers plan to roll out the project in increments with its Phase One expected to go live in the fourth quarter of 2018.