‘BMI Digital Initiatives’ Project to Set Benchmarks for 21st Century Copyright Administration

Posted in News on May 2, 2004
BMI will roll out a series of business and technology initiatives over the next two years to continue its leadership in setting standards for efficiency, timeliness, scope and transparency in copyright administration, it was announced today by BMI President and CEO Frances W. Preston. The "BMI Digital Initiatives" rely on innovations in business systems developed within BMI as well as in collaboration with a wide spectrum of partners in the U.S. and abroad.

"We are entering an age of unprecedented opportunity, an age which requires a continuing transformation of our business to take full advantage of the new technologies," said Preston. "Over the next two years, BMI will implement new systems made possible by development efforts which combine a 3,000% increase in our computing infrastructure and entirely new business systems that will harness that power for our day-to-day work. In addition, we will announce a series of strategic partnerships that will leverage BMI's expertise in copyright administration with the best of the best in new technology and performance measurement," Preston added.

The first beneficiaries of the BMI Digital Initiatives endeavor will be BMI's songwriters, composers and music publishers through an expansion in radio airplay measurement and a significant refinement in airplay analysis. BMI is now adding new census data for hundreds of radio stations to its existing nationwide sample of radio airplay on more than 10,000 stations which is the industry's most comprehensive. The census data will be provided through new strategic partnerships with two companies who will offer BMI complementary data: Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems (Nielsen BDS) and MediaBase. Data from these new sources will be streaming into BMI's radio performance analysis system where it will be used to enhance the scope and detail of BMI's radio royalty distributions. The first royalty payments using MediaBase and Nielsen BDS data in BMI's radio system will be made to BMI affiliates within a year.

BMI has also reached a long-term agreement with Shazam, a leading company in automated monitoring and identification of music in a variety of different user environments. Shazam's proprietary technology has been successfully tested by BMI over the past year.

"We believe these three companies, Nielsen BDS, MediaBase, and Shazam, together with our existing music data, offer a scope, consistency and accuracy in airplay measurement that BMI will combine with our time-tested radio sample to deliver the most comprehensive picture of radio airplay in America. Each of the companies is an industry leader in its own technique for performance measurement and together they offer an unrivaled depth and breadth of information," said John Cody, BMI's Chief Operating Officer. "We have been testing the census data provided by these companies over a variety of radio stations for well over a year, and we are extremely pleased with the results.

"Our experience in breaking new ground in copyright administration, coupled with the synergy with our new partners, provides us with a unique vantage point to implement the right strategies required to achieve success in today's dynamic environment," said Cody. "We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial partnership with each of them."

BMI's radio sample of airplay data from over 10,000 stations is widely regarded as the industry's most comprehensive and accurate. The speed and efficiency of assembling the radio sample have been enhanced over the last two years with BMI's introduction of its EMR (Electronic Music Reporting) system, permitting radio stations to directly upload playlist information from station automation computer systems to BMI's mainframe computers in its data center in Nashville, Tennessee. Thousands of BMI's radio licensees are now using the EMR system, avoiding the time and expense of filling out paper documents and enabling the speed and accuracy of direct computer to computer communication.

The new census data from MediaBase and Nielsen BDS will now augment this national radio sample, permitting BMI to see more detailed airplay information and perform more in depth analysis of radio airplay trends. The census data will not, in most cases, change the overall number of radio performances for a song but will allow BMI to see with greater detail and precision where and when that airplay took place. In addition, the new census data will further enrich currently utilized information.

Speaking of the new strategic alliances, BMI Executive Vice President Del Bryant said, "This approach lets each partner do what it does best, with BMI combining the data sets for a total system with unparalleled scope, detail and accuracy."

BMI took the new measurement system live adding radio census data as of January 1, 2004, following almost two years of testing. BMI has utilized census data for television airplay for many years, combining show data acquired from the TV Data Corporation with music information from BMI's own massive digital cue sheet archive. BMI also relies on census data for Internet airplay derived from direct uploads of comprehensive data sets from BMI's web licensees.

"With our experience in analyzing music information for hundreds of thousands of television shows and, more recently, millions of Internet transmissions, it only makes sense to move towards radio airplay as well," said BMI Senior Vice President of Operations and Information Technology Bob Barone. "We have built what we believe to be the copyright industry's most advanced and powerful computing infrastructure to handle the billions of computations on airplay of our repertoire of more than 4.5 million musical works."

Other aspects of the BMI Digital Initiatives will enhance BMI's licensing operations, especially as they relate to the use of new technology; still others will put new and refined digital tools in the hands of BMI's writer and publisher affiliates, and its licensees.

"These new initiatives are a continuation of BMI's commitment to innovation and excellence in delivering the benefits of technology to our affiliates and licensees alike," said Preston. "They will enable us to craft the next-generation strategies and build the capabilities required to succeed in meeting the challenges of the music business in the digital age."