Music Recognition Technology Nets More TV Royalties

Two new music recognition companies, TuneSat and Landmark Digital, are now being deployed to net more performing royalties using technology. In fact, not only is the music recognition technology being used to complete automate the process, but it is considerably more accurate.

Now that television is expanding to many different formats and distribution channels it was only a matter of time before companies began deploying automation technology to increase revenues. Before Landmark Digital, a BMI subsidiary, and TuneSat came along, the accurate accounting of songs utilized in television was difficult to monitor efficiently and economically.

ASCAP and BMI, the two largest performing rights societies in the United States, collect about $1.8 billion in performance royalties per year, of which about $600 million stems from music played on broadcast, cable and satellite TV.

In many cases, broadcasters pay the societies upfront for a blanket license on these tracks and submit cue sheets to detail what music was used and when so the societies can distribute the payments to the appropriate rights holders.

TuneSat and Landmark have installed listening stations to monitor the audio feeds of more than 100 broadcast and cable channels to recognize and record music played on these channels. Their systems are so sensitive that they can pick up two-second snippets of a musical work and identify songs played under dialogue or even static. They then compile a report of all such usage into a database for clients, complete with an audio recording of each use.

TuneSat and Landmark Digital have spent much of the year courting music publishers and performing rights societies with this new product, pitching it as a more effective system for tracking music performances. It can take up to eight months for broadcasters to provide societies and publishers with their cue sheets, while these new services can identify performances in real time.

What’s more, TuneSat estimates that the manual cue sheet method of measuring performances on TV results in up to 80% of the royalties paid being misallocated. TuneSat monitors only domestic TV, but it is planning to launch monitoring services in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Spain in July.

Landmark Digital, meanwhile, was created after BMI acquired the technology assets of the popular music identification service Shazam in 2005. Since then, BMI has used the service only to monitor radio performances, but now Landmark has added TV and Internet monitoring to its portfolio and is seeking additional clients. The company expects to announce several international customers this fall.

Author: FutureMusic

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