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rightsholder.io research shows extent of registration gaps and data duplication with Grammy-nominated songs

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In North America, 10% of the songs nominated for a Grammy were not detected to be registered with the region’s rights societies, as of January 7, 2023, according to an analysis from data specialists MusicTechWorks‘ music copyright research platform rightsholder.io.

rightsholder.io reviewed its data sources on global song registrations for some of this year’s top Grammy categories, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, Best Dance/Electronic Recording, Best Rock Song, Best R&B Song, and Best Rap Song.

(Source: rightsholder.io)

The research shows that even top songs can have data issues that will in turn prevent rights holders to get properly remunerated. MusicTechWorks’ data shows that in addition to the 10% songs not detected in North America, 20% of the songs were not detected in Europe & UK and 33% in Asia-Pacific.

Identifying gaps and duplications

“The GRAMMYs is one of the biggest events of the year for the global music industry, and we saw this as an opportunity to show that even the most notable songs and records of 2022 have issues when it comes to their registrations,” said Bryson Nobles, co-Founder and CTO of rightsholder.io. “Identifying these gaps and duplications is critical to ensure that royalties can be properly and promptly collected, especially since many non-US rights societies may only distribute monies once or twice a year.”

MusicTechWorks’ Jarrett Hines and Bryson Nobles

In addition, a third of these works nominated for a Grammy were found to have duplicate registrations. According to MusicTechWorks, this “can mean songwriters and publishers may be missing out on monies if these are not reconciled in their royalty administration systems.”

More surprisingly, more than 50% of all the songs from the Grammy sample were found to have multiple International Standard Musical Word Codes (ISWC), the identifiers for song compositions, which lists the title’s songwriters, music publishers, and their associated shares of the composition, as well as other works that may be referenced in the song, such as a sample.

Money be left on the table

“Song registration with rights societies around the world is critical for proper licensing and royalty collection, but current methods of tracking this information globally often leaves major gaps, even for some of the most popular songs,” explained MusicTechWorks. “The ISWC should be consistent for any recorded version of the song, whether by the original recording artist or a cover version.”

“We hope that this information will open people’s eyes to the true magnitude of this problem,” said Jarrett Hines, Co-Founder and CEO of rightsholder.io. “While there are many reasons these issues exist, it’s critical to recognise that not only could a significant amount of money be left on the table for the songwriters and music publishers, but this also could decrease their overall catalog valuation. If the top titles are missing royalties due to missing registrations in the top markets, duplicate registrations, and duplicate ISWCs, what is the picture for songs that are not frontline titles?”

Emmanuel is a Washington, DC-based freelance journalist, blogger and media consultant, specialising in the entertainment business and cultural trends. He was the US editor for British music industry trade publication Music Week. Previously, he was the editor of Impact, a magazine for the music publishing community (2007-2009), the global editor of US trade publication Billboard (2003-2006), and the editor in chief of Billboard’s sister publication Music & Media (1997-2003).

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