Content has always been king in the media and entertainment industry but now data is moving to the centre of the industry’s business models.

That’s the opinion of Steve Canepa, general manager of global media & entertainment industry at IBM.

The promise of data is to enable the media and entertainment industry to get the right content on the right device in front of the right consumer. But before data can be used to create personalised services that tap into new sources of value, the music industry needs to get a grip on the tremendous amount of data generated by streaming services. Or as Canepa says, the business of music needs to catch up with the consumption of music.

Music has undergone two significant shifts in the internet era, the move from physical media to digital downloads, which is now being superseded by the more recent rise of music streaming platforms. In the world of music streaming billions of transactions — valued at fractions of a cent — are calculated so artists and copyright holders get paid.

That means copyright collection agencies are dealing with a growing number of microtransactions generated by music streaming services using systems designed to pay artists based on the number of CDs they sold, not how many times Adele’s Hello was streamed on repeat.

Last year, European rights collection agency SaceM tracked nearly 982.5 billion download and streaming transactions – almost twice the 2015 total. And the volume of transactions that have to be monitored and managed is dramatically increasing.

“In 2016 the revenue from streaming overtook the revenue from downloads for the first time,” Canepa told Which-50. “It’s expected by 2020, if the current patterns hold, 90 per cent of online music revenue will come through online streaming services. We are seeing this dramatic shift in the way content is consumed which means there needs to be a change in the way platforms clear the rights and remit the value are established.”

“As this consumption pattern continues to grow and evolve there’s going to be tremendous amounts of transaction data that needs to be captured and managed.”

IBM is working with SaceM to develop a transparent copyright platform to track and capture the value of online music for both creators and publishers. Known as URights, the platform will be built on IBM Cloud and infused with analytics solutions.

IBM hopes other rights collection agencies around the world will join the platform to allow for the fast and seamless integration of data between all the various industry players.

The platform will allow SaceM to provide additional value to rights owners with increased data analysis allowing more transparency and a more efficient identification of online works to help ensure they are compensated fairly. Artists will also be able to see who, where and how their content is being consumed.

“Once you move into this world it allows you to create new services because as you are managing all that content and all that data about consumption then you can begin to analyse why a certain piece of content is performing better in one market versus another, or why certain sub-segments of the audience are gravitating towards a certain genre of content,” Canepa said.

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