Music Catalogue Software - Registration Software Comparison

In the previous article, general requirements for a music catalogue software for music publishers were outlined. In this one, we will focus on types of available solutions. I say “types”, because no third-party software is actually named.

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 ordinary spreadsheet software - Excel or one of the alternatives.

However, in the last few years, there have been dozens of new offerings, mostly software-as-a-service, aka “cloud” solutions. Even the aforementioned expensive one has gone to the cloud. And there are other new tools with other deployment options as well.

Useless ones

In most cases, useless solutions were made by a single person or a small team for a specific publisher and then put to the market. When they realized that other publishers have different needs, they tried to turn these solutions into more general ones. This approach, as opposed to a well-planned project, 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 received any value for the money they paid. And we see new ones sprouting regularly. “We have been using it for years, now you can too.” is a No.

Specialized single-feature tools

When it comes to registrations of musical works, there are few tools in this category, and most of them are on this website (see free, services and development 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 (e.g. Excel) for world-wide CWR registrations. A few clients are doing it this way, the key tool in the workflow being EBR to CWR. To the best of my knowledge, this tool has no alternative.

Open-Source Software

When it comes to registration of musical works, there are several open-source projects.

Django Music Publisher (DMP) is the only one with a database and user interface. It can be quickly deployed with no technical skills. It can be deployed to the cloud or locally, and based on that, it also falls in one of the following categories.

The others are software libraries for the creation and parsing of CWR files. All of them require technical skills to set up.

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.

It is hard to go back to 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.

Special case here are the tools that started as software for labels and then have been extended towards publishing. At this point, there are several promising projects in this category. When it comes to features exclusively for publishers, none of them beats DMP at this point. I know that some will pretty soon, as I am helping them. Some others might as well.

The experience with such cases is briefely described in Extending the Software.

Registrations first

Even some services, with the basic purpose of registering, do not do CWR properly. Although, things are getting better rapidly. Unlike the previous group, these services must get it right. It may be complicated, but it is their job.

There is a rationale for using specialized tools that integrate well, as opposed to monolithic tools. In reality, “microservices” has become one of the most misused buzzwords. 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. Music catalogue management software may include all the features required for managing music catalogue, including registrations/claims/licencing, royalty calculations and much more. But it should not try to be an accounting software.

There are good and promising solutions in this sub-category and it is the one you should go for. Aforementioned DMP, when deployed to a cloud, is here as well. So are several other solutions we offer and/or have (co-)developed.

Locally installed systems

Such systems really belong to the previous century. Buying one today can only be seen as a desperate move. Even if you opt for in-house development, it should be a cloud-based solution.