Blokur’s State Update: Ensuring data accuracy

Phil Barry
Oct 3, 2019 · 4 min read

If you are a regular reader of music industry press, you will have noticed that music publishing catalogues are changing hands more than ever. Songs are bought and sold as investments, sub-publishing and admin deals evolve as publishers review their strategy, and writers move their catalogues as they shop around for the best partner.

Keeping track of the latest copyright information is one of the biggest headaches in publishing. As a publisher, when you take on a catalogue you want to know that you are the one who is going to get paid when the songs are exploited. But it can take a long time for all the different parts of the system to catch up to speed. Especially when there are several publishers involved in the same song. Think of all the different shares in all the different countries that need to be updated.

At Blokur we see this all the time: multiple publishers submitting claims for the same share of the same song, and society databases trying to keep up. Very often when these types of data conflicts arise outside of Blokur they are only noticed when somebody is expecting royalties that never arrive.

Sifting through the data

So how do we ensure that Blokur always contains the best data?

Blokur matches and combines a wide range of data sources to a composite master record that we call the “Blokur State”. The Blokur State represents the current best understanding of the rights for a given song for each category of rights in each country.

When we receive two pieces of conflicting data, the piece that makes it to the state is based upon a transparent and fair hierarchy of data authority. Put simply, this means that the closer you are to the piece of information you are describing, the higher score your data will have in the process. The algorithm is designed to ensure that whoever is most likely to have the latest information is given priority, so that everybody can benefit from the best available data.

The diagram below demonstrates a simplified hierarchy of data authority for writer information.

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Simplified hierarchy of data authority for writer information

Of course, publishers and writers always have the last word. We alert all parties when their data is conflicting with the Blokur State and enable publishers and writers to challenge the Blokur State through a user-friendly counterclaim process. Publishers can provide evidence to back up their claim and interact directly with other parties through a simple chat system. Once the parties agree, the Blokur State is updated.

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Blokur work view showing a conflicting publisher share
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Blokur counterclaim screen

A single alert system for global music publishing

Because Blokur contains data for more than 180 different countries, our users are able to detect and resolve issues for all territories in one place. From observing the data submitted to Blokur, we are able to see that most data issues are replicated across several different countries at the same time. Perhaps a change in an administration or sub-publishing agreement needs to be propagated around the world and results in a conflict with a long list of existing registrations from local publishers. By detecting conflicts up front on a global basis, Blokur prevents publishers from having to duplicate their effort across many different countries.

And crucially, publishers have the ability to inform societies around the world of resolved counterclaims directly from within the Blokur platform.

Keeping track

With so many changes in catalogue administration and ownership taking place, it’s important to be able to keep track of changes as they happen over time.

At the bottom of every song page on Blokur, you will find an Activity Timeline tracking changes in the song’s copyright and administration going right back to the first time the song was registered on the platform. This is a neat way of identifying potential sources of conflicts and serves as a reference in case you need to identify a previous stakeholder.

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Blokur activity timeline

Simply put, Blokur’s State Update system ensures that interested parties always have access to the best available data and that changes in ownership or administration are transparent and easy to follow. That means no more tracking the same conflict in several countries at once and no more revenue being directed to the wrong person.

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