The music industry is working to create a global repertoire database to make it easier and faster for new online music services to come to market. [As mentioned in Billboard.biz's MIDEM preview.]
The industry estimates that 100 million euros each year could be saved in copyright administration fees and returned to song writers and the industry by simplifying the current system.
In recent years, music labels and publishers have worked hard to license their music on an array of platforms including mobile networks, mobile handsets, websites, Internet service providers and pay-TV groups.
The long, complex process makes it difficult for many new services to get off the ground, as a new offering has to sign licensing agreements with the many groups that hold the recording rights and the music publishing rights.
Within publishing -- the part of the business that makes money every time a song is played on the radio, in adverts, films or online -- payments have to go to all the song writers on each track. One song can have many writers and they are often all signed to different publishers.
A service that operates in different countries would also need to agree terms with the royalty collection societies of each country it operates in, making for a very tangled affair.
However there is currently no database or central point showing which publisher or song writer unequivocally owns which rights, meaning it is hard to know where to start.
Now, consultancy Deloitte is working to develop a global repertoire database (GRD) for the publishing industry following input from Universal Music Publishing and EMI Publishing, some of the major royalty collection societies and retailers such as Amazon and iTunes.
The groups were asked by the European Commission to look into the issue.
"As an industry there have been many false dawns over the years but at last we seem to have woken up to the fact that we have to change," Neil Gaffney, Executive Vice President at EMI Music Publishing UK told Reuters.
"This GRD is a game changer because for the first time we will have an assured, common, trusted view of what we represent, own and manage.
"One of the complexities for a new services is people say they didn't know who to pay. It gets rid of one of the fundamental issues and means we can turn our attention to those people who use music illegally."
Deloitte partner Neil Allcock said they hoped elements of the database would be up and running very quickly, and aim to be fully functional within 18 months to 2 years. A similar project is also being looked at for the recorded music business.