Berlin-headquartered Paradise Worldwide started off life in 2009 as a distributor and digital services provider for independent artists and labels. Then it added music publishing services to its offering – including direct negotiations with collecting societies and DSPs. And then it became a Neighbouring Rights collection agency too.
More recently, Paradise has focused on expanding these offerings into exciting fast-developing markets like Latin America and Africa. But the company believes its latest launch may be its most transformational yet.
Paradise’s new audio recognition data tool, TRIDES (Track Recognition in the Digital Ecosystem), has been developed in partnership with (and part-funded by) Germany’s Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.
The ambitious platform builds on Paradise’s long-standing relationship with leading audio recognition technology providers, says Paradise Managing Director, Ralph Boege.
Yet while TRIDES emulates some of the best aspects of these services, he says, the platform also aims to do more – both for Paradise itself, and for future industry partners, including rights-holders and PROs.
“The funding from the German government comes with a clear mandate that this should be a solution for rights-owners, including independents.”
Ralph Boege, Paradise
“Our experiences from third-party audio recognition services has been okay, but ultimately it’s always disappointed in terms of the data reporting we and our independent clients get back,” Boege tells MBW.
“The aim of TRIDES is to integrate everybody in the music industry, and never have any gap [in data]. The funding from the German government comes with a clear mandate that this should be a solution for rights-owners, including independents. We have a process, a technology, and an API that works.”
Boege believes that one key differentiator for TRIDES, especially amongst independent labels and artists, will be its reasonable data exchange model.
“The fees are so high to get data back [from some existing audio recognition services], it could bankrupt some small labels,” he argues. “Getting that data back should come as a mandatory condition of those labels allowing [said services] to use their data in the first place.”
He adds: “Whether an artist or label comes from Kenya, Mexico, Sweden, USA or Germany, access to industry-standard data should be available to all – and it is our aim to make that a reality.”
Certain industry bodies are already trying to help eradicate data-matching inconsistencies in music via ISRC code databases, but Boege is skeptical.
“Whether an artist or label comes from Kenya, Mexico, Sweden, USA or Germany, access to industry-standard data should be available to all.”
Ralph Boege, Paradise
Prior to Paradise, he says, he worked at independent labels and publishers where he recalls ISRC data input being fudged by staff who didn’t treat it as a priority – something he believes will have been commonplace across the global business for decades.
“The modern industry needs to rely on unique data it can trust, and the only way to get that data is through audio fingerprinting,” he says. “Therefore the industry needs to switch its focus to audio data, and invest in a database designed to create unique audio fingerprinting. Until then, things will not get better.”
He adds: “Today, some collection societies cannot do the job [of data matching] because they don’t have a proper data model that allows them to match even something as rudimentary as a track title, and then report and distribute the revenues to the correct independent rights-owner.
“TRIDES exists because we knew we couldn’t just keep complaining about this situation – that achieves nothing. Someone needs to deliver an industry solution, so that’s what we’re doing.”
According to Paradise, TRIDES, which remains in beta, already enables the company to “better identify unknown audio content, DJ mixes and podcasts”, which in turn will help it take a chunk out of two ‘black boxes’ full of uncollected royalties: (i) Missing mechanical rights payments from DSPs; and (ii) Missing payments for the usage of recorded music by broadcasters and public-facing businesses around the world (i.e. neighbouring rights).
If the money in either of these “black boxes” is left unclaimed by independent rights-holders for multiple years, says Boege, the uncollected cash will return to the music industry’s biggest players by way of market-share based blind payouts.
How big is the “black box” problem globally? Consider that in the US earlier this year, some $424 million was paid out by DSPs in backdated unclaimed royalties to the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC), whose job is to then pay that money on to the correct copyright owners.
Paradise is looking further afield. It believes its TRIDES tech will be game-changing in territories such as Africa, where the company signed direct licensing contracts with a number of DSPs for the first time in 2020.
“The industry needs to switch its focus to audio data, and invest in a database designed to create unique audio fingerprinting. Until then, things will not get better.”
Ralph Boege, Paradise
Paradise’s core distribution business represents over 250,000 recordings for indie labels and artists.
The company has now fed the full gamut of its global distribution and music publishing copyright data into TRIDES, leaning on its music recognition process to clean up its data – and the claims for unpaid royalties it can make as a result.
“The ever-changing music industry still has issues with revenue allocation,” says Boege.
“It is the belief of Paradise Worldwide that combining all collection tasks with the end goal of precise reporting, based on the latest technology available, is the way to go.“Music Business Worldwide