"In designing and developing UMPG Window, our team worked closely with our songwriters and clients to best understand what they most wanted from a world-class, fully transparent portal and app," UMPG executive vp global administration John Reston said in a statement. "This kind of collaboration is a reflection of how we do business: our songwriters and publisher clients are partners in everything we do. We will always keep innovating to better the lives of our writers and support their songs, and that is why UMPG continues to raise the bar for the industry."
In order to ensure that the app and portal would give songwriters and their teams the information they wanted, UMPG employed a team of MBA students from UCLA's Anderson Applied Management Research Program to conduct an in-depth study that included surveying UMPG songwriter and publishing clients. This study provided a lot of "amazing feedback" which helped the UMPG team to design the new portal, Reston tells Billboard.
In building UMPG Window, the company strived to add flexibility, simplicity and intuitive functionality while also providing customizable view settings that supply tailored information based on user preference, according to Reston. Moreover, going forward, the portal is designed so it can easily add functionality as necessary, he adds.
"UMPG Window is a testament to our commitment to building and delivering the best, most scalable systems in music publishing," UMPG executive vp global technology Mark Coltman said in a statement. "Our guiding principle was creating a resource that empowered our songwriters and clients to easily access meaningful, usable and accurate data. We are so proud that the resulting application -- functionally rich with superb, instant analytics -- will be an outstanding, valuable tool that exceeds all expectations."
But in addition to adding features, UMPG says it also improved upon the capabilities available in the company's prior portal. For example, in 2015, UMPG gave its writers the ability to get one-click advances, with no fees, in their own country based on what was coming into the pipeline. But now UMPG has added the international royalty pipeline as another source of advances for clients -- at an earlier point in the process. Previously, that income was available for advances only after it was received by corporate. Now, it is available for advances in real time, as it comes into the system, Reston explains.
In another distinguishing move, UMPG previously accelerated international payments to songwriter and publisher clients, paying on a quarterly basis.
In addition to improvements in the company's cash management processing, UMG also now supplies more international data to allow clients to have a better understanding of their international income stream, with the portal allowing clients to see the details of the royalties as they come into UMPG. For instance, writers can see royalties come in from SACEM in France to the UMPG French operation as those royalties are being processed, according to Reston. Or, in another example of the portal's granularity, writers can see Spotify data from Denmark, which will show the breakout of ad-supported and subscription plays, he adds.
In order to achieve that level of granular functionality, UMPG made a huge effort to ensure that all digital services provide much more data than they previously did, including obtaining historical data where necessary to fill in the gaps for the portal's data reservoir, Reston explains. "To get all that data and feed it through the portal was a huge undertaking -- you are talking billions of royalty lines of data from all these services," he says. "While technology and functionality are important ... it was equally important to insure that the data was detailed, meaningful, useful, accurate and answered our clients questions."
In addition to providing more data from the big services such as Spotify, YouTube, Amazon and Apple, UMPG has also detailed royalty information from services like Netflix and Hulu. Moreover, since UMPG serves as the administrators for many film and TV studios, the company went the extra mile and added an area that is devoted to them, including making sure their music's data included EIDR codes (Entertainment Identifier Registry). In addition to supplying top-line revenue by production, the portal shows information on works used, with customized views to see royalties by production, type of usage, cues, territory, and duration, among other ways of segmenting that information.
"We follow the rights of tens of thousands of TV and film productions," Reston says. "So in addition to seeing income reported at the song level and production level, film and TV clients can also see the income of the individual cues.
Another big thing that came out of the survey of clients, songwriters wanted to see full composition metadata for their songs at each service; and they wanted to be able to check UMPG has registered their songs with the different societies around the globe, Reston reports. So the portal provided detailed song copyright information, including ISWC (International Standard Work Codes) codes, registration and status information.
"They said to us, "You send the song info to be registered to the society, but how do we know if that data was uploaded and inputted correctly," Reston relates. "Now, the writers can check for themselves."
Reston says the portal was the result of a great collaborative team effort between the UMPG administration and information technology staffs. "We have seen it across the industry, the divide between administration and IT," Reston says. "But we pride ourselves on the closeness of both our teams here. We are two sides of the same coin."
So far, UMPG has soft launched the portal in various territories around the globe and last week the company rolled it out in the U.S. and U.K. "The feedback we are getting from those who are in the beta test," Reston claims, "is, 'None of the other industry portals provide this level of detail.'"