Music Publishing Software - Batch Registration for Music Publishers

In the previous article, differences in needs among music publishers are described. In this one, the focus is on different types of software that support batch registrations of musical works, primarily with Common Works Registration files.

Although the described solutions are actual ones, only those owned by the author or that have been released as open source will be named, as others may not be represented completely accurately.

For a very long time, there was basically only two commercial software products that were used by music publishers, a very expensive on-site solution and a ordinary spreadsheet software.

However, in the last few years, there have been dozens of new offerings, mostly software-as-a-service, aka “cloud” solutions, but also smaller tools (most notably mine) and open source solutions, still quite partial.

Useless ones

In most cases, useless solutions were made by a single person or a small team for a specific label and/or publisher and then put on the market. When they realized that other publishers have different needs, they tried to turn these solutions into more general ones. This is an approach that rarely works, even with good developers, and good developers are scarce.

Some of these solutions have been on the market for a few years now, although it is hard to imagine how anyone got any value for the money they paid. And we see new ones sprouting regularly.

Specialized single-feature tools

When it comes to registrations of musical works, there are very few tools in this category, and most of them are on this website (see free tools), although publicly accessible databases (e.g. ISWC Net) may fall in this category as well.

While they do not offer a complete solution, it is actually possible to use these tools together with spreadsheet software for world-wide CWR registrations. A few clients are doing it this way, the key tool in the workflow being my EBR to CWR. Costs? €500 to €800 per year.

Open Source DIY Tools

When it comes to registration of musical works, there are three open source projects worth mentioning, described in another article.

Django Music Publisher is the only one with a database and user interface, the other two are under-the-hood libraries for the creation and parsing of CWR files. All of them require technical skills to set up.

Application Platform as a Service (aPaaS)

There is really only one, DMP Guru. It provides hosting and technical maintenance for Django Music Publishing instances. Unlike SaaS offerings, there is no lock-in here, as the software is open source and one can download the database backup at any moment.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

This has become a de facto standard when we think of a web-based business application. And when it comes to software solutions that allow CWR registrations, there are specialized solutions that primarily focus on registrations and more general ones, where registration is just one of many features.

An afterthought

Most of those registration-related features in services that primarily do something else are useless. The reason is that in all those cases the registrations have come as an afterthought. By the moment the need for such a feature was realized, there was a lot of unvalidated and incomplete metadata in these systems. And it is hard to go back to the paying clients and tell them that their metadata, often meticulously put into the system, is worthless. Another reason is that many have not even tried to do it properly.

Django Music Publisher was actually motivated by some of the services for production music distribution and sales. It is released as a free software to raise the bar and define a minimum of the registration features they should provide. Registrations can get really complicated, but in the simple cases, there is no reason not to do it right.

Registrations first

Even some services whose basic purpose is related to registrations do not do CWR properly either, although, in this area, things are getting better rapidly. Unlike the previous group, these services must get it right. It may be complicated, but it is their job. And they must cover those complicated cases as well.

In one of the next articles, the rationale for using specialized tools will be covered, and how to choose how narrowly specialized. But, generally speaking, you want the tools that do one thing or one tightly connected group of things well, not one tool that does many things poorly.

Locally installed systems

Such systems really belong in the previous century. Buying one today can only be seen as a desperate move. The cause for desperation is that if your needs are complicated, there is really only one vendor. Unless you choose to dive into development yourself. If you are considering this, then you are in the right place, as most of the following articles will be covering that option.