Sep 7, 2023 3 min read

PRS expands Nexus programme to facilitate faster ISRC/ISWC matching

UK collecting society PRS has announced an expansion to its Nexus data programme which aims to make it easier for record labels and music distributors to include an ISWC when delivering tracks to streaming services, so it is clear what song is contained in the recording

PRS expands Nexus programme to facilitate faster ISRC/ISWC matching

UK collecting society PRS yesterday announced an expansion of its rights data programme, which it likes to refer to as Nexus.

The new phase of the programme, originally announced last September, aims to "ensure that songwriter and composer information is linked to recordings prior to release", basically by making it easier to access the unique code that is used to identify each song, ie the good old ISWC.

There has been much discussion in recent years about the need to more rapidly and extensively connect recordings to songs in the streaming domain, because a failure to do so impacts how, when and if songwriters get paid streaming royalties. In technical terms, that means connecting the ISRC, which uniquely identifies every recording, with the relevant ISWC, which uniquely identifies every song.

Record labels and music distributors deliver tracks to streaming services. However, they are only able to provide a licence covering the recording rights in the track, not the rights in the song contained in the recording. The songs are then licensed by music publishers and collecting societies.

Once a service has all of its licensing deals in place and music is streaming, it pays whatever is due on each recording to the label or distributor that delivered and licensed it. However, the service doesn't know what song is contained in the recording, nor who owns the copyright in that song, so doesn't know who to pay on the songs side.

As a result, a complex process takes place every month where each publisher and society receives a complete usage report from each streaming service, and it must then go through that data, identify the song in each recording and if it licences that song, and - where it does - it then needs to claim the royalties due. This is a time-consuming, expensive and not necessarily accurate process.

That system could be made more efficient and accurate if the streaming service at least knew what song was contained in each recording. Because lots of songs have the same title, that can only be done by using the ISWC identifier. But currently, labels don't usually provide ISWCs with the recordings they upload, just the ISRC. And, in fact, they don't usually even know what the ISWC is.

Given the negative impact missing data has on songwriter royalties, there have been increased calls from the songwriter community in recent years for the labels and distributors to provide ISWCs with every track they upload. And in the UK, the music industry recently signed up to a new code of best practice for metadata - facilitated by the government - which includes a commitment to try to start delivering ISWCs with recordings.

However, achieving that requires making it much easier for labels to source ISWCs. And with new music, publishers and songwriters need to make sure ISWCs are issued before a track is released, which often doesn't happen.

ISWCs are actually issued by collecting societies like PRS, with the identifier managed on a global basis by CISAC, the global grouping of song right collecting societies. CISAC has been working to make it easier and quicker for ISWCs to be issued for a few years now, and PRS is building on that as part of its wider previously announced initiative to enhance song data.

PRS says of the latest expansion of its Nexus programme and platform: "By giving those uploading music a simplified way to include an ISWC, alongside the existing data they already provide to streaming services, will significantly streamline the process of collecting and paying royalties. The new technology, delivered via a simple online tool extending the current CISAC system, will help PRS For Music to more quickly and cost-effectively maximise the value of members’ works online".

PRS boss Andrea Czapary Martin adds: “This pioneering initiative is designed to solve a worldwide issue and revolutionise how songwriters are paid. Linking ISWCs to ISRCs at the point of release is crucial and has long been an obstacle for music creators. We are committed to driving the entire music industry towards a single and unified data strategy, a common rail which is built on transparency and trust. This is why we launched our Nexus programme, which is aimed at moving the industry from merely discussing its data problems to solving them".

Welcoming the development from its side, CISAC Director General Gadi Oron adds: “CISAC is delighted to support PRS For Music in this project. Bringing together the ISWC and ISRC at the point of release of a song has a huge potential for creators and rights holders and would be a giant leap forward for the industry as a whole”.

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
You've successfully subscribed to CMU.
Your link has expired.
Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.
Success! Your billing info has been updated.
Your billing was not updated.
Privacy Policy