NEW YORK, NY—Standards consortium Digital Data Exchange (DDEX) has introduced a new metadata format aimed at the production side of the recording industry. Recording Information Notification (RIN) is intended to standardize the metadata describing all aspects of a recording project; if implemented into DAWs, it would enable essential metadata about the production of a sound recording to be captured and stored in a standard form as the recording is created.

As a consortium, some of the entities involved in DDEX include labels such as Sony Music, Warner Music and Universal Music; music publishers like Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Kobalt Music; technology and digital service providers companies including Apple, Pandora, Amazon and Spotify; and rights organizations such as ASCAP, PRS for Music, SACEM and SoundExchange.

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While DDEX has spent the last 10 years focused on creating and implementing business-to-business standards for the music business’ digital supply chain, the introduction of RIN now finds the consortium turning its attention to music creation.

“The piece we were missing in terms of standardization was, ‘How do you get that data into the supply chain in the first place?’” said Mark Isherwood, secretariat of DDEX, “and that’s really done around the studio and around digital audio workstations these days, but there was no standard way of trying to collect the data at the point of creation of the musical work or sound recording.”

RIN will store basic information, such as the work’s title and names and contributions of songwriters, artists, producers, engineers and so forth. “The data can actually travel with the recorded files,” said Isherwood. “For example, if you go in and do the first take and then you decide you need to overlay vocals at a different studio than the original, data from the original recording can travel with the files to the studio where the backing is being put together and then you add data to it. So it’s like a bucket into which more and more data gets put as the creation process goes through its cycles.”

Of course, that puts the onus on producers and engineers to add ‘data entry’ to their to-do list during a session. What’s the incentive for them to add to their workload?

“They get paid, because at its simplest, I’m afraid that’s what it is,” said Isherwood. “If RIN gets adopted, it means you’ve got a vehicle to make sure the data about you as an engineer or producer follows the files. By the time it gets to the labels, there is much better, more well-formatted data about all of the people that are going to need to get paid at some point.”

Better data assemblage is necessary, he explained, because as things stand now, rights organizations are left “sitting on a whole bunch of money; they don’t know who to give it to, and the reason is because not enough data gets collected about who all the contributors are…. It’s a grand plan and it’s not a new one, but I don’t think anybody has previously tried to standardize the format in which people try and collect that data.”

RIN has been under development for a few years, with most of that time spent on ensuring the format is simple and consistent so that it can look and act the same for every user, regardless of the DAW being used. To that extent, DDEX made a presentation to the pro audio industry at the 2015 AES Convention in New York, explaining how and why it was creating RIN. “We also shared early, early drafts with certain individuals who were interested, particularly the DAW manufacturers who gave us feedback,” said Isherwood, “and now we feel it’s mature enough to publish. The big job is now getting the industry to adopt it.”

With that in mind, DDEX has ambitious plans for 2017, aiming for some of its members to implement the RIN standard by mid-March to fit their part of the digital supply chain. “Then we can use them as case studies as we go out to the broader industry during the remainder of the year, saying ‘Look, they did this, it’s dead easy,’” said Isherwood.

To date, however, no DAW manufacturers have come onboard to implement the RIN standard. “We have had a number of conversations and nobody has committed yet,” said Isherwood, “and I understand that: They have they have a development cycle and those sorts of concerns.”

Nonetheless, the RIN standard has the support of the consortium’s notable membership, as well as the Producers & Engineers Wing of the Recording Academy. “RIN will facilitate crediting, ensuring that performers, producers, recording engineers are properly identified and paid for their contributions,” said Maureen Droney, managing director at P&E Wing and a key member of the RIN Working Group. “Organizations that collect and distribute performance royalties to creative contributors often find it difficult to obtain information on their identity. With this revenue stream growing, it is more important than ever to streamline the process of identifying and paying the appropriate parties.”

Digital Data Exchange (DDEX)
ddex.net