CMU insight: The Life of a Song @ The Great Escape 2017

By Carlotta 2 years ago
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Look out for more reports throughout June on key sessions that took place at the CMU Insights conferences at The Great Escape last month. Today, we look at a presentation by Mycelia’s Head Of Research Carlotta De Ninni. She spoke at the Royalties Conference to introduce a new project Mycelia is undertaking to give better insight into how money flows through the digital music system: The Life Of A Song.

The project tells the story of Mycelia founder Imogen Heap’s biggest hit, ‘Hide & Seek’. “It shows the journey of the song from back in 2004, when it was registered with PRS, to now”, said De Ninni. The project will create a visual representation of how the song has been used, evolved, synced, reworked and commercialised since then, with details of all the remixes and collaborations, all the contracts Heap has signed in relation to the song, sync deals, and information on when key digital music services made the track available.

“The grand aim of the project is to create an interactive web application that will allow users – whether you’re an artist, or a journalist, or maybe a student – to follow three separate journeys around the song. The first journey is a biography of the song, the people involved, all the agencies, literally the history of the work. The second breaks down how the song has been used, the deals that were done. And the third, probably the most interesting element, is going to be a breakdown of the income”.

She continued: “At the moment, with my research group of MA students from Westminster University, we are digging into a lot of reports – PRS reports, PPL reports, all of Imogen’s earnings for ‘Hide & Seek’. [The aim is that someone using the app] could say, ‘I want to know how much Imogen earned from Spotify UK in 2008’. You put this in, and you will get back a number, and an explanation and some graphs about it. This is a very interesting and powerful tool”.

“Our first partners for this project are PRS and PPL”, she went on. “They’ve offered us some amazing personnel, who have helped us to delve into the data. They’re helping us to understand and make this kind of categorisation simple”.

Doing this research has already thrown up some interesting insights that Heap and her team weren’t previously aware of. Looking at various pieces of user-generated content, they estimate that the song has had around eight billion plays through unauthorised sources since it was released in 2005.

Aside from this, it has also highlighted at which points in the system data is lacking. “Besides showing what’s happening with Imogen’s money, the aim is to have a significant use case to show everybody what is actually going well in our industry – because not everything is bad – but also where there are grey areas”, said De Ninni. “For PRS and PPL, overseas collection is a nightmare. This isn’t their fault, it’s because some of the other collecting societies don’t report back good data. They’re not magicians. If you have bad ingredients, you can’t make a good cake”.

The aim is to launch The Life Of A Song app in May 2018, with events in 45 cities around the world. Before that, in July, the team behind it are holding focus groups to find out what potential users would like to get from it. They are also seeking sponsorship.



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