Data has always enabled royalties to flow to songwriters, composers and publishers, but with the increasing volume of bits and bytes pouring into collecting societies such as PRS for Music, how is the world of rights administration keeping up?
Rachael Naylor, interim Director of Operations at PRS for Music, oversees the organisation’s data processing, which fuels member distributions and ensures the flow of royalties from organisations to songwriters, composers and publishers.
She’s been an integral force within the Operations Team since 2012, helping to transform its function during a huge period of change both at PRS for Music and across the wider industry.
Now a streamlined team, which partners closely with external music identifying companies and data processing specialists, Operations is focused on reducing costs and increasing capacity as digital data volumes continue to spiral.
Here, Rachael shares her thoughts on the challenges facing collecting societies and rightsholders, how the data business is shaping up for 2018 and what PRS for Music is doing to stay in tune…
The digital music market has transformed the whole industry. How is PRS for Music adapting to this and what are the main challenges you face?
Our biggest challenges revolve around data and service in terms of volume, management and quality. The volume of data we receive has risen exponentially in recent years, and while much of this can be attributed to online usage, we have also seen a steady rise across TV, radio, on-demand entertainment, public performance and the live sector as well.
To manage this, we’ve increased our focus on the quality of the data we receive, in terms of how it’s reported to us (format), what is reported (content) and, importantly, what’s not reported, as well as ensuring data is received in a timely fashion.
We’re also working hard to exploit our data, both to improve our overall performance and share insight with our members and stakeholders, with the aim of helping decision-making across the industry to become more data-driven.
You work with an increasing number of external partners who handle data processing and music recognition – how is that working out?
We work with a number of companies such as ICE, Network of Music Partners (NMP), Soundmouse and On Music. The levels of service they provide us directly impacts the service our members receive – so it’s of huge importance we get this right.
We must influence others to provide the level of service we need, so we can deliver the best possible service to all our members. For example, our partnership with On Music has led to a significant increase in the volume of music usage data received on time.
How has your department changed over the last couple of years?
Our Service Delivery Team has grown and evolved to manage all these various contracts and service partners. Frameworks have been put in place to track performance and we are keeping a close eye on this area.
We have also founded an Operations Strategy Team to design ways to increase operational quality, such as our new product to audit music data files we receive from our suppliers to ensure they meet the high standards we expect. It has helped with early identification of data inaccuracies and we’ve been able to assess more than 35 million lines of data already. This has ultimately led to an increase in the accuracy of royalty payments to our members.
How do you see things evolving in 2018?
I think 2018 will be an exciting year for us. We will capitalise on the foundations we have built over the last couple of years to really add value across the business, to our members and the industry.
Our key focus will be on the continuation and development of Music Recognition Technology (MRT) initiatives, alongside transformation of internal and partner processes and services.
Our overall aim for 2018 is to be an industry leader in service and data management and delivery, to improve our service to members and allow us to engage more meaningfully with our stakeholders.
As data volumes continue to grow, what can we, as an industry, do collaboratively to streamline processing and royalty payments?
Musical works need to be registered in a timely fashion and I’d like to see an increase in the adoption of industry-wide standard codes wherever works are referenced – such as the International Standard Recording Codes (ISRCs) and the International Standard Work Codes (ISWCs).
Also, I would urge all songwriters, composers, artists, labels and publishers whose works are used on radio or TV, to ensure they are uploading their audio files and rightsholder information to the music recognition service Soundmouse, so that it can accurately match works to uses.