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Björn Ulvaeus launches Credits Due campaign to get song data attached to recordings at creation

By | Published on Wednesday 22 September 2021

Björn Ulvaeus

Björn Ulvaeus of Abba fame was at the Ivor Novello Awards in London yesterday to launch a new initiative called ‘Credits Due’, which seeks to ensure that a bunch of music rights data is attached to any new recording before it is pumped out into the world.

The initiative has been launched by The Music Rights Awareness Foundation – which Ulvaeus co-founded in 2016 – in partnership with the Ivors Academy. It calls for creator identifiers (IPN, IPI and ISNI), song identifiers (ISWC), recording identifiers (ISRC), creator names and song titles to be attached to each new recording at the point of creation.

Some of that data is already routinely attached to recordings when they are delivered to streaming services by record labels and music distributors, although that’s mainly data relating to the recording specifically, so title, artist names and the unique code that identifies each individual track, ie the ISRC.

In more recent years, labels and distributors have also been encouraged to include songwriter information when they deliver tracks, allowing writers to be properly credited within the streaming platforms and – ultimately – for users to be able to navigate a platform’s catalogue by songwriter.

However, labels and distributors do not usually provide unique identifiers for either songwriter (that being the IPI) or the song itself (so the ISWC). Which means that, while a streaming service may be able to credit songwriters – assuming the songwriter information provided by a label or distributor is correct – that doesn’t help the service identify what specific songs have been streamed or who owns the rights in those songs, and who therefore needs to be paid.

Therefore, currently, services report monthly usage to their licensing partners on the songs side – music publishers and collecting societies – with recordings data, ie the ISRC. It is then for the publisher and society to identify what ISWC is linked to that ISRC and whether it controls the rights in that song.

This adds complexities and costs to the processing of songwriter royalties from streaming, and also creates the black box of streaming monies that no one knows what to do with. Ivors recently estimated that £500 million a year ends up in that streaming black box. If more accurate data was inputted from the start of the process of distributing recordings, some of those complexities, costs and issues could be removed.

Launching ‘Credits Due’ at the Ivors, Ulvaeus said: “I could think of no better event to launch the ‘Credits Due’ initiative than at the Ivor Novello Awards. You could say that we celebrate all the great UK and Irish songwriters and composers by starting this open and inclusive collaboration with The Ivors Academy. We want to raise awareness of and provide solutions to problems that are well-known and, to put it mildly, frustrating in the songwriting community”.

“It’s very simple”, he added “music recordings must credit all involved and thus ensure that the right people get paid. People ask me why this isn’t the case already and I don’t know what to say. Today, in 2021, there’s really no excuse. If we achieve ‘Credits Due’ it’s a win-win for the whole music industry. Thankfully, a lot of good work is underway and we very much look forward to further support from the industry in finally giving creators the financial recognition they deserve”.

Songwriter Fiona Bevan, who also sits on the Ivors songwriter committee, said ‘Credits Due’ was “an initiative that will move the industry in a better direction by ensuring that creators are paid fairly. As a multi-platinum songwriter and artist, I have personally experienced the pain of missing and slow payments, resulting from the lack of proper credit data, after writing huge hits. We have a great opportunity to change this if the industry pulls together, uses new technology and most importantly, engages our songwriters, producers and performers in the task of ensuring credits are attached to recordings at the point of creation”.