BerkleeICE’s Open Music Initiative: the transparency we’ve all been waiting for?
It was announced last week that the Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship has launched the Open Music Initiative, whose mission – says its website – “is to promote and advance the development of open source standards and innovation related to music, to help assure proper compensation for all creators, performers and rights holders of music.”
The initiative is groundbreaking, yet simple in concept – instead of creating a whole new infrastructure to track rights and royalties, OMI seeks to make it possible for existing infrastructures, databases and systems to be accessed, shared and exchanged by all stakeholders and owners.
“The infrastructure on which [the music] business has operated for the last century is not adequate to address the new ways in which music is being produced and consumed today—and even more so, tomorrow,” said BerkleeICE’s Managing Director Panos Panay. “This is less of an insurmountable problem and more of a unique opportunity—an opportunity to jointly modernize the framework on which our business operates so that we can all reap the benefits of tomorrow.”
How will it work?
“In layman’s terms,” writes Hypebot, “OMI doesn’t want to create a centralized database of music; but rather a standardized way of tagging and identifying music and rightsholders so that various databases can communicate with each other and verify information. Better tracking means more money for artists, labels and publishers.”
Harnessing the MIT Media Lab’s expertise in decentralized platforms, the OMI brings together the expertise (and commercial neutrality) of other academic institutions, including University College London. But even more unprecedented is that the initiative that has the blessing and backing of just about everyone else you could think of within the industry: major labels such a Warner Music Group and Universal; most streaming services including Spotify and YouTube; as well as analogue and digital radio stations, collection agencies and other organizations.
No defined timeline
However, there is no current timeline or publicly agreed target for when OMI will be implemented. “What today’s announcement doesn’t bring with it is any concrete work on the complex technological work required of such a large initiative,” writes Billboard.
The enduring problem of legacy data
While OMI seeks to solve current issues of transparency and rights reporting, it is worth mentioning that it is for current and future music: the elephant in the room remains the endless ream of legacy music data. “The OMI will focus on fixing data for new works rather than catalogue, though principles could presumably be applied retrospectively,” writes our friend Chris Cooke at Complete Music Update. Perhaps now, in light of OMI, tech companies and start-ups should start developing innovative ways to mine, organise and tag that data.