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'If the music industry wants to continue its exponential growth, its data backbone needs to become significantly more efficient.' – Music Business Worldwide

Verifi Media recently announced the launch of the Verifi Rights Data Alliance (“VRDA”), with partnerships in place with Warner Music Group, Warner Chappell, FUGA, Unison Rights and Deezer.
Together, these inaugural members have committed to using Verifi’s services to enhance, collaborate and share music rights data, with the cumulative aim of improving each of their businesses.
Verifi Media claims this is the “first time that global enterprise companies representing the entire value chain of the recorded music business have concretely committed to a communal data sharing framework that benefits all companies”.
Here, MBW presents a Q&A with Verifi Media’s Chief Business Office (CBO) and co-founder, Allen Bargfrede, who in addition to his role at Verifi also heads up Avance, a music investment advisory firm.
We ask Bargfrede – a former leader of Berklee’s Rethink Music think tank – about the aims of Verifi’s VRDA, its patent-pending technology, and the company’s vision for a true global database of music rights information…
The VRDA is a series of modern shared-data services for the entire value chain of recorded music.
Music rights are inherently multi-party since there are two copyrights in every recording, and often multiple collaborators on each song and recording. Global parties ranging from creators to labels, publishers, CMO/PROs, administrators and financial investors all share the ownership or representation of a music asset.
The music business also continues to become more global and more collaborative, and with catalogs changing hands more frequently than ever before, businesses need not just a rights registry database but a dynamic data engine that incorporates comprehensive change management and communication of changes to the community.
“Shared data has already proven its immense value in industries such as financial services and healthcare. doctors and patients benefit from data shared around patient outcomes. If the music industry wants to continue its exponential growth, our data backbone needs to become significantly more efficient, enabling us to move away from spreadsheets and paper processes.”
However, the music business has been reluctant to embrace global rights databases in the past and a new approach is needed. That’s where shared data and permissioned access come in. Shared data has already proven its immense value in industries such as financial services and healthcare. Banks and traders, while competitive, have benefited greatly from industry initiatives that allow them to share data in order to process transactions more efficiently.
Meanwhile, doctors and patients benefit from data shared around patient outcomes. If the music industry wants to continue its exponential growth, our data backbone needs to become significantly more efficient, enabling us to move away from spreadsheets and paper processes.
In order to solve the data dilemma that magnifies frictions in our marketplace, we need a systematic, cross-vertical approach to answering the question “who owns the rights to this song today?”
Verifi was founded on the belief that answering this question with modern technology and business buy-in is the key to enabling innovation, increased revenues, operational efficiencies, and data transparency that will support a much more robust creator economy.
And solving the data dilemma facing the recorded music business is even more important today, as the problem is being amplified further as the industry grows and the digital economy becomes a more distributed market. Rapidly increasing data complexity in a rapidly growing business, magnifying frictions in the “best practices” at many music companies, is the reality of what we collectively face today.
Fortunately, Verifi’s perhaps idealistic vision is on its way to fruition. Warner Music Group (label), Warner Chappell (publisher), Unison Rights (CMO), FUGA (distributor) and Deezer (streaming service) have all committed to using Verifi’s services. Each company independently benefits from our patented shared-data registry services, while simultaneously providing a much better aggregated understanding of rights, owners and changes to music data over time.
Various projects — such as the Global Repertoire Database (GRD) and the Open Music Initiative (OMI) — have attempted over the years to create a more collaborative data culture across the business, but most have not been able to get enough buy-in from enterprise-level companies to fulfill that vision.
The VRDA is a great start to making this a concrete reality: real companies, real data, real technology, real commitment across the value chain of recorded music, for the first time.
“Separate, but together.”
We have worked for numerous years with our clients to create the right set of tools and services to systematically manage media rights data needs. In essence, we have found that there are 6 definitive elements of making a shared-data engine work well for rights data in media:
This is why we call our solution “separate, but together”.
This is not sharing data for sharing data’s sake: it is strategically sharing data with specific parties, in a controlled manner, that allows the benefits (more revenues, faster royalty collections, operational efficiencies, opening new revenue sources) to accrue to each Verifi client for their unique business needs.
Shared data leads to better business, which leads to a better creator economy.
We believe that for inherently multiparty data to be accurate and useful, the data needs to be collaborated upon by all the authoritative owners and representatives of that data. This enables organizations to make better business decisions, leading to greater revenues, more efficiency and better data transparency, strengthening the creator economy that digital media businesses have enabled. But don’t take our word for it, our VRDA clients believe this as well, and that’s why they’ve entrusted us with their data:
We are committed to being great caretakers of our clients’ data, while steadfast in the belief that significant rights data improvement has massive economic value collectively for the music business around the globe. Just as importantly, each organization and creator that joins will benefit from greater mobility and transparency of rights data.
This allows the many aspects of the continually evolving digital media worlds that are both exciting and often painful (e.g. global royalty collection and distribution, catalog transfers, sync licensing clearance, metaverse music use cases) to be streamlined. If you would like more information regarding Verifi Media, or the VRDA, please reach out to us at [email protected].Music Business Worldwide
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