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Global Repertoire Database officially scrapped, £8m wasted

July 7, 2014, 4:01 pm BST

The Global Repertoire Database has officially been scrapped due to a fall-out of collection societies over funding of the project, according to Music Week sources. Around £8m of publisher and songwriter money has been spent building the crucial copyright portal since 2008 – a sum which is likely to never be repaid. The GRD was designed to be a single, authoritative online data resource, containing information about all musical works from publishers and collection societies across the world. As such, it would have put paid to serious current issues surrounding the international licensing of songs. The GRD was reliant on an additional £18m to get off the ground, funding which was expected to be contributed by 12 global collection societies this year. However, Music Week understands that a string of these groups have pulled their support, leaving the project devastated. US group ASCAP was the first to fold its interest earlier this summer, followed by SOCAN (Canada), PRS For Music (UK), SACEM (France), SIAE (Italy) and SGAE (Spain). As a result, the GRD now stands as a limited company with £8m of debt and a worrying lack of prospects for future income. Initially, progress on the GRD was swift and promising. By 2010, the International Copyright Enterprise (ICE) was appointed as the technology provider for the platform, with Deloitte brought in to manage the project. By the end of 2011, the four major music publishers and five collection bodies - APRA, GEMA, PRS for Music, SACEM and STIM – agreed to make all of their musical works data available and to provide funding. An operational GRD was planned to be up-and-running for a select group of users by Q2 2014 - but that target has now been badly missed. Why have societies pulled funding? A key cause for the U-turn over funding from some societies is the creation of their own rival multi-territory database solutions. ASCAP, BMI and SOCAN have named their joint initiative MusicMark, while the French, Italian and Spanish societies plan to build one based on their licensing platform, Armonia. Last year, PRS for Music joined with STIM and GEMA to launch a pan-European licensing hub that it hopes will simplify both national and pan-European music rights licensing and processing. However, publishers are understood to be concerned that these projects will prove inferior to the GRD - and lacking in key information needed for effective global royalty collection. There are echoes of history: back in 2002, the International Music Joint Venture (IMJV) project was scrapped - an initiative that involved ASCAP, Buma/Stemra, MCPS-PRS Alliance and SOCAN. Could ‘slimmed down’ GRD save the day? Last ditch attempt at salvaging project The International Confederation of Music Publishers (ICMP) are now working on a ‘GRD Lite’, using slimmed-down specifications based on the GRD system. It eventually hopes to tempt the big societies to join. Andrew Jenkins, chair of the International Confederation of Music Publishers, reiterated the importance of the function of a GRD and said the project could still ‘develop over time’. He explained: “Everybody knows that the industry needs a Global Repertoire Database, and that the only efficient way to cost-effectively manage data is with a single, reconciled, authoritative database. “Anyone who has seen the results of the Deloitte Data Assessment during the recent GRD process knows that the time for a GRD is now. A Global Repertoire Database needs to be able to show a true picture of all musical works ownership globally, including the rights owned or controlled directly by composers, authors, and music publishers which are not necessarily in collection society databases currently. Only that will satisfy the needs of all potential users of musical works. “The GRD certainly didn’t fail because it wasn’t the right thing to do. We have to try to move forward with those who are willing to build a ‘GRD Lite’ - a GRD in small steps if you like - which could develop over time into the Global Repertoire Database we always should have had."

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