DJ mixer

Creators to benefit from music recognition technology in nightclubs

PRS for Music and PPL are using music recognition technology to improve the way music creators are paid when their music is played by DJs.

  • By Lucy Doyle
  • 11 Oct 2018
  • min read
More dance music creators are set to receive royalties from performances of their music played by DJs in nightclubs, thanks to music recognition technology approved by PRS for Music and PPL. 

The two music rights organisations have expanded their distribution policies to include data generated from music recognition technology, following a year-long nationwide pilot.

The pilot tested how accurate the technology is in identifying music played by DJs, and evaluated 'how the data gathered could be used to supplement existing distribution methods'.

So far, the technology has captured over 31 million seconds of music in participating nightclubs, with up to 95 percent of all music played successfully reported back to PRS for Music and PPL.

Members of both organisations will receive their first royalty payment from the data collected, this year.

The dance music industry is backing the technology, with a new video featuring Lohan Presencer (chairman of Ministry of Sound), Simon Dunmore (founder of Defected Records), and B. Traits (DJ, producer and presenter) urging UK nightclubs to support the use of music recognition technology and explaining the important impact this development will have for dance music creators.

Presencer, who has been an ambassador for the project from the outset, said: 'We are wholly supportive of music recognition technology going into bars and clubs so that the right people get paid.

'This is in no means a threat to venues themselves because they’re already paying the licence fee and the licence fee that they’re paying is the same amount of money regardless of what is being tracked in their clubs.  This is for the benefit of the creators and it’s important that bedroom DJs, bedroom songwriters and small independent creators get paid properly for their music.'

B. Traits urged clubs to back the technology, 'so that the younger, new, up and coming, underground artists can understand that they can actually make a proper living from it, by just getting their music played, rather than DJ gigs alone.'

She added: 'From a DJ’s point of view, music recognition technology is completely private and secure. The information captured will never be made public, it's only going to be used to pay the artists whose music you've played.'

Claire Jarvis, director of membership at
PRS for Music, said: 'PRS for Music and PPL play a vital role at the heart of the music industry, ensuring music creators are paid fairly when their music is played in public. As the industry evolves, we are constantly innovating to adapt.

'DJ sets are spontaneous and varied, changing from gig to gig, which can make it difficult for DJs to tell us what they play. Now, working alongside bars, clubs and events across the country, music recognition technology is helping to improve the way that music creators are paid when their music is performed in clubs.'

Peter Leathem, chief executive at PPL, added: 'Not only does this initiative have the potential to reduce the administrative workload on the artist’s part but it also means that PPL and PRS for Music can identify the music being played in the venues participating in the trial even more accurately.'

How music recognition technology works

A small music recognition device is installed in participating nightclubs where it listens to the music a DJ plays and analyses it against a database of millions of individual sound recordings, to create highly accurate setlist information.

The devices generate an ‘audio fingerprint’ for each track played during a DJ set, giving a digital summary of the unique characteristics of a recording, along with information such as the song title, songwriter, composer and featured artist details. The technology also has the ability to recognise a recording from just a few seconds, enabling it to identify original musical works within remixes.

The audio fingerprint is run though a library of fingerprints to see if a ‘match’ can be found. Identified tracks are matched against PRS for Music’s and PPL’s independent databases of musical works and recordings. Both organisations then use the setlist information to distribute royalties back to the creators of those recordings and works.