These codes — complete with their alphabet soup of abbreviations – are one of the least glamorous parts of popular music. Without them, however, it can be difficult for streaming services and other entities to separate recordings and songs from others that share the same name, and to pay the appropriate creators. The absence of these codes on many compositions is one reason why services have had to delay payments, or even hold them.
"Anyone who's been in the business knows that these five identifiers are the most important to get right," Ulvaeus says, "and it's a shame they're not mandated." Ulvaeus, who founded the Music Rights Awareness Foundation with fellow Swedish songwriters Max Martin and Niclas Molinder, in order to educate creators about their rights, said that various industry groups supported the idea.
This particular idea has its roots in the Ivors Academy, the UK songwriters association, which supports creators and hosts the annual Ivor Novello Awards. But it is receiving support from around the music business. Splits can be decided later, after the basic information is included.
"It's been easy to get everyone's support," says Molinder. "We've been talking to all of the trade organizations, and this benefits everyone." The foundation also collaborates with WIPI, the World Intellectual Property Organization, which is affiliated with the United Nations.
Of course, it's easy to get the industry to support the idea of maintaining better authorship records – one of the challenges is getting creators to remember to keep track of them, so the information will be accurate when songs are written. Now, that's easier, too. Creators can register codes on Sessions software that plugs in to various music production tools.
"Now they can just walk into the studio and register," Ulvaeus says. "They used to have to write their names on a list, but if they were stoned and the producer was stoned, that didn't happen."