PRS and Google working on a “Shazam for music licensing”
UK-based performing rights society PRS for Music is purportedly working with Google to help report performance fees for music played in public more accurately.
Performance fees are paid to artists and publishers of copyrighted songs wherever they are played in public, whether that be on television, broadcast over radio, played over the stereo in retail establishments, or in venues like sports arenas and concert halls.
The traditional methods for determining these fees rely on radio logs, cue sheets created by television and film companies, or sample surveys, which randomly track songs for several hours in bars, clubs, and venues. When devised, these techniques were as accurate as technology allowed. Developments in the decades since, however, could greatly improve precision — and boost the payouts to artists.
PRS chief executive Robert Ashcroft shared the plans in an interview with Forbes. He described a physical device which would sit in bars, clubs, venues, and shops and constantly track the music being played. The tracker will employ Google Play Music’s vast music library for identification, and use technology similar to Shazam to give PRS accurate — not speculative — play counts.
The device isn’t yet operational, nor is it cost-effective to employ on a large scale. If the project comes to fruition, however, it will be another example of the democratizing power and pro-artist potential of technology in the new era of the music industry.