What are Collective Management Organisations (CMOs)?

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A collective management organization manages copyrights, on behalf of rights-holders. The oldest are two and a half centuries old, but in music they started emerging only 170 years ago.

It is hard to give a precise world-wide explanation. Legal differences are huge. Luckily, we are focused on music metadata, so we are only concern with the processes leading to collecting and distribution of royalties.

Oversimplified, rights-holders deliver metadata. CMOs track usage, collect royalties and distribute them. Same metadata, with very different legal reasoning, leads to same effects. Weird, I know, but practicality beats law-makers every time.

Metadata can usually be delivered through CMO’s website or by sending batch registration files. Music CMOs used to use different formats, but in the last decade, worldwide formats were accepted by most. For CMO’s dealing with musical works, the accepted standard is CWR, while for recordings and products, it is one of the DDEX formats.

When it comes to royalty statements, the situation is quite chaotic. Although there are common formats, most of the data is still delivered in CMO’s various custom formats.

And when it comes to payments… we’ll leave that for another time.