When you blast that summertime anthem, the artists who wrote and recorded the song are supposed to get a check. But it’s not exactly easy money. “It could take up to two years to get paid,” says Panos Panay of Berklee College of Music. “You also have no idea if you’re being compensated accurately, because compensation for these types of uses is based on sampling, not measurement.”
Even after more than a decade of Internet-fueled disruption, the music business is still sorting out how to manage digital ownership rights. Panay, who heads Berklee’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship, hopes to finally clear that hurdle by bringing together more than 180 entities from music, media, and education to form the Open Music Initiative (OMI). The goal is to build a data-sharing infrastructure to ensure copyright holders and creators get compensated when their music is played, whether over the airwaves or on a smartphone.
The OMI plans this summer to publish an application programming interface, software code and permissions that work like a universal socket, to let others plug their digital products into the larger system. “It’s not our job to mandate fees. It’s not our job to mandate if you get paid,” Panay says. “We just want to create better conditions for creators to ultimately assert that right.”