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New data guide aims to help songwriters get every penny they are due

By | Published on Wednesday 14 June 2023


A new website has launched to help UK songwriters understand the different bits of data that they need to generate and provide every time they write a new song.

The Get Paid Guide has been launched following the recent signing of a metadata agreement by the British music industry. That was one of the outputs of the economics of music streaming work instigated by the UK government’s Intellectual Property Office in response to Parliament’s big old inquiry into the workings of the digital music business.

When new recordings are delivered to streaming services, generally only the recording is uniquely identified by an industry standard code – that being the ISRC. The song contained in the recording is not identified in that way, ie the code for identifying songs, the ISWC, is not usually provided.

When it comes to credits, the main artist’s name will be submitted, as might be some information about the songwriters, but the names of other musicians and producers involved in the recording are usually not included.

That missing data means that many music-makers are not credited on the streaming services, despite copyright providing a moral right to attribution for creators.

Meanwhile, on the songs side, the missing data makes the processing of song royalties extra complicated, which often results in delays in getting songwriters paid, plus higher admin fees coming off the royalties the writer is due. And sometimes the money doesn’t reach the writer at all.

With the metadata agreement, stakeholders across the music industry have agreed to raise their game to try to get more data in the system around new releases. That involves record labels, music distributors, music publishers, collecting societies and streaming services, but also artists, songwriters, producers and their managers.

It’s generally agreed that, for the metadata agreement to succeed, lots of education needs to happen across the industry so that everyone understands the different data sets and codes that are required to get people credited and paid. The Get Paid Guide seeks to begin that process by providing some useful information and resources for songwriters.

The website – produced by collecting society PRS in partnership with the Ivors Academy, Music Publishers’ Association and IPO – provides a five step guide, talking writers through key codes like the IPI and ISWC, and how they access them, and the other information they need to put into the PRS database in order to get paid when their songs are played.

Commenting on the new guide, songwriter Michelle Escoffery – who is also President of the PRS Members’ Council – says: “The Get Paid Guide is a crucial handbook for songwriters. Getting the data right at the point of works registration is vitally important and is often the difference between being paid or not. This guide brings us closer to achieving a healthier metadata ecosystem overall. I encourage all music creators to use this guide, get fluent with the relevant codes and empower themselves to get paid accurately and quickly”.

You can access the Get Paid Guide here.