Noting how the music industry lacked an equivalent to what the film industry had with IMDb – and also how it was missing a verified source of data from across the music supply chain – Jacqui Louez Schoorl, with a background in both film and music, began working on what was to become Jaxsta in 2013.
As its CEO and co-founder, she wanted the platform to act as an important search tool for music credits and creatives as well as offering a new revenue stream for content providers.
Jaxsta’s features are geared towards music creators and industry professionals as well as music fans, who may find their way to the site to learn more about who created their favourite tracks.
Louez Schoorl says compiling liner notes and credits when she was working on music releases was the catalyst for Jaxsta’s inception. “I spent all this time compiling these beautiful credits; the album got released and it was there in the jacket of the CD and vinyl,” she says. “But as it got released into the digital music world, it was literally the title of the song, the name of the artist and the artwork for the release – and everybody else lost their credits. That was the turning point for me.”
Dick Huey, Jaxsta’s head of partnerships, was Beggars Group’s US head of digital and progressed to help lead Spotify’s independent label deals in the US before it launched there in 2011. He eventually met Louez Schoorl and started working with her on Jaxsta.
From a fan or industry professional point of view, Jaxsta’s database allows them to search for an artist, an album or a song and then get detailed credits and information about the people involved in the creation of each release – ranging from main artist to songwriters, producers, engineers and performers.
Jaxsta also licenses lyrics from LyricFind which are displayed alongside the credits. On an artist’s page, which can be generated for any creator as long as they have a credit, the platform also lists collaborators, awards and news (powered by MuzeRoom). Users can play the song, look at the credits and read the lyrics. “It’s like a one-stop-shop,” says Louez Schoorl. “Eventually we’ll be adding videos as well.” Jaxsta sources data from its official partners like record labels, distributors, publishers, PROs and other industry bodies such as chart compilers and award shows to deliver official music metadata. This metadata can only be altered by the data partners, not by the individual creators.
The platform now offers two products – Jaxsta and Jaxsta Pro.
Signing up for a Jaxsta Pro account allows creators and their teams to claim their profile and customise it. On top of that, there are a few additional features.
The Chart section enables users to look into charts across Spotify, Apple Music, Shazam, the Official Charts Company (UK), ARIA (Australian Industry Recording Association) and AIR (Australian Independent Record Labels Association).
The team is regularly adding to this list of suppliers, aiming to provide the most comprehensive chart round-up it can. It is also possible to set up to 20 different chart alerts for any music creator, song, publisher or record label that you would like to track.
The Top International Markets section is focused on providing information such as certification requirements (e.g. gold, platinum, diamond), digital indicators (such as population and number of premium streaming subscribers) and a directory featuring awards, festivals, available music services and more.
The industry events calendar helps professionals to stay on top of music events on a global basis.
A creator profile can be claimed by logging into Facebook or Twitter to verify the connection or to add other supporting links. Each claim will be manually checked by Jaxsta’s team to ensure that applicants have the right to claim said profile.
Once your creator profile has been claimed and verified, Jaxsta allows you to upload a profile picture, link to streaming and social media profiles as well as upload a biography.
Another interesting feature is the ability to pin a featured catalogue to the top of the page, highlighting specific releases the artist has worked on. In this way, a creator’s Jaxsta profile can work like a business card for the creator, showcasing projects and people they have collaborated with.
Profiles will feature tags such as songwriter, producer, engineer or performer so that it is easy to identify what kind of work the creative is involved in.
In case of missing credits or other issues, Jaxsta has a feedback ticket on every page of the platform. Critically, industry professionals will also be able to retrieve contact information for the credited people.
According to Louez Schoorl, the contact feature is heavily used by A&R managers already. “Not only do we need that information for historic purposes, but we also need it for those individuals so they can get more work, they can collaborate and they can get paid,” she says.
When uploading images, Jaxsta encourages every user to include credits for the photographer, stylist and make-up artists as they will extend the database in due course for users to be able to include all kinds of people that are part of the artist team.
Jaxsta is currently in beta and Louez Schoorl says they have over 15k Jaxsta Pro members now and the more users they have, the richer the feedback becomes. “Probably towards the end of this year – certainly Q1 2021 – both Jaxsta and Jaxsta Pro will come out of beta,” she says, adding that at least three or four new features will debut later in the year.
API licensing plans
In the meantime, Jaxsta is in the process of rolling out its commercial API. Huey explains that Jaxsta was designed to share informational metadata behind releases in a comprehensive manner as there was previously no single source for that. As such, it should not be seen as a replacement for a label’s direct feed to digital music services, but rather treated as an add-on as they are also pulling in information from the publisher side.
“The feed that we have at the end of the day contains more information than an individual feed from an individual label might contain about who the assistant engineers were, who the assistant producer was and so on,” he says. “That really is the focus of what Jaxsta brings to the music industry.”
Being able to provide precisely this verified informational metadata puts Jaxsta in a strong position to deliver this metadata to voice-activated devices, where users might ask their smart speaker to play songs by a specific engineer. Huey anticipates that by the end of 2020 they will have their first commercial data partners signed up.
The team stresses that the marketplace for metadata has previously been like the Wild West, featuring a few big companies who have had metadata licensing as part of their business model for 15-20 years but who would typically not include a revenue share. Examples include Discogs, Wikipedia and MusicBrainz.
What its founders believe makes Jaxsta different is that it not only provides an official music credit source but also when it provides any API feed to digital music services, voice-activated services or standard music services (when they strike a commercial relationship), part of that revenue flows back to their data providers. The platform is monetising informational metadata on behalf of the data provider and is, therefore, an important enhancement to the music ecosystem.
Jaxsta’s data partners include all the major labels, Beggars, AWAL, the RIAA and CD Baby, collectively representing over 80% of the industry’s market share. There’s no fee involved for being a data partner, but the company presently only accepts data feeds by DDEX-compliant data partners.
The easiest way to deliver data to Jaxsta is via a delivery partner such as FUGA. As a member of Merlin, which is a data partner of Jaxsta, labels can opt-in to their Jaxsta agreement and then fill out an onboarding form that Merlin can share with them. They will then be contacted by a Jaxsta client services manager.
A Jaxsta Pro membership costs $150 a year and will allow you to continuously update profiles, access contact information and utilise its charts, top international markets and events calendar features – plus any new ones that come along.
As a response to the COVID-19 crisis and its effect on music creators, Jaxsta is offering its pro tier for free until at least the end of the year.