‘What A Wonderful World This Would Be’

The fact that every digital music service is developing in what music industry writer Eliot Van Buskirk describes as its own “data silo” is a problem for music fans, artists and music industry, alike.

As a music fan, for instance, if you decide you want to switch from using Spotify to another streaming music service, right now, all your playlists are not transferable. For some, this ties them into a £10 annual subscription with their current service; while others are deterred by this from subscribing to any at all. The solution to this problem is simple: one big industry standard music database, one that allocates every song a unique identifier, so the switching of music services would be made possible – smooth, even.

One big database of music would also ease industry mergers like those we have seen recently with digital music services Rhapsody and Napster, Myspace and imeem. It would also facilitate the integration of all streaming services with social media networks, music magazines and blogs, which in turn would inspire even more listening to music and sharing of it.

The upshot of this is, of course, the generation of more payments to artists, writers, record labels, publishers and collection societies – some of whom currently don’t trust the new digital services. And if plays can be monitored more accurately, then payments can made more efficiently.  This would inspire more artists and labels to make their music available through streaming music sites, and as Van Buskirk puts it poetically, “tiny rivuletes of melting snow [to] become great rushing rivers”

These are just some of the benefits of one big database of music. At Decibel we already have a database consisting of over 1 billion pieces of data, comprised of around 12 million tracks and 1.1 million albums, and over 150 pieces of information for each track.  A series of APIs for this database, which has the potential to become industry standard, will be begin to be available to subscribers very soon, so watch this space.

The deeper financial implications of such an industry standard music database for all involved in the music making process are explained in more detail in Van Buskirk’s recent piece for Wired.com. You can read it in its entirety, here.