Sony ATVAntony Bebawi Sony/ATV

Poor music data bringing ‘rough justice’ for creators, expert warns

Sony/ATV’s Antony Bebawi has said that incomplete data is bringing ‘rough justice’ for creators in the digital music age.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 21 Apr 2015
  • min read
Addressing delegates at last week’s Westminster Media Forum, the executive VP of digital and society relations (Sony/ATV Europe) said that insufficient data continues to impact rightsholder remuneration from streaming services.

‘We’re dealing with huge volumes of data and, from a publishing and collecting society perspective, the biggest challenge is incomplete data,’ he said.

‘Also, the data comes with very little royalties in the amount-per-transaction sense. This has culminated in some very bad outcomes for stakeholders, certainly on our side of the equation.’

Criticising the current state of play, Bebawi said that songwriter and composer information is still lacking, while many streaming services only accurately report on around 50 percent of usage.

‘It becomes very difficult to make sure the right people get paid in a reasonably short space of time at a cost which is acceptable,’ he continued.

‘The money ends up either typically staying with the [streaming] services or getting paid in a lump to a collecting society. If it stays with the services and there’s insufficient data to get at it, it’s obviously ending up in the wrong hands.

‘If the societies get it, or if we happen to get it, there is a way to find a “rough justice” solution. It doesn’t get all of the money to the right people but at least it spreads the money to the right kind of stakeholders,’ he said.

Bebawi went on to suggest that everyone involved in the digital music supply chain should work together to ensure rightsholder information is captured at the most economical point – when music files enter the system.

‘I don’t think that’s an idealistic goal,’ he said. ‘I think there are some issues with misaligned incentives within the supply chain which prevent it from happening, but I think it is achievable.

‘If our aim is to get the right people paid, it’s the only thing to do. Failing that, I think there are plenty of ways of ensuring we’ve got rough justice as opposed to no justice at all.’