RightsHUB CEO Lee Morrison has nearly three decades of experience in distribution, starting from packing records in warehouses, and taking in stops as Head of Digital at Skint/Loaded, and as General Manager at Believe UK along the way.
He founded RightsHUB because “it became apparent that there was no tool on the market for rightsholders to run their day-to-day business… It’s a back-end business solution.”
Morrison says that people dealing with rights “spend way too much time on double-data-entry,” and he believes RightsHUB is the “one point of data entry with multiple exit points” for anyone who needs to record, track and manage music rights data and assets – all in one place, from DIY artists to big distributors.
It’s designed to be the space in which you do everything: updating all release and contract data, storing all imagery and social media assets, connecting the contact info of everyone associated with each release – and once all this data is entered, things like issuing contracts, and chasing payments can be done with one click.
For anyone used to the headache of navigating through a forest of Google documents, Excel spreadsheets, email archives, and Dropboxes to find all these disparate pieces of information, it’s clear how centralising everything in this way could be incredibly helpful.
But the really useful part is how the platform lets you use that data: it automatically checks and cleans up a catalogue’s metadata and then sends it to all the companies that need it; it helps you track unpaid statements; creates promo landing pages; pulls in data from multiple sources to look for missed rights exploitation; and much more.
“I’ve made the platform scalable and accessible” says Morrison. “I work with artists with so many releases on different labels – they have no idea when their statements are due or when their rights revert… so we help them, and we scale all the way to the biggest distributor clients too.”
How does RightsHUB work?
Initially a user will want to add as much of the important information as possible – adding in all their clients (like labels or artists) and the various users on a label team, with accompanying access rights to specific artists or clients. Access and user rights within the platform are multi-level and very fine-tuneable.
RightsHUB then holds all the detailed information about an artist’s rights and all the vital associated clusters of information. Tabs along the side of the screen show where information can be entered: Contracts, Publishing, Content, Connections, and so on – plus something called “Rightstracker” – more on that later.
These tabs open to allow information to be added and updated. The key to getting the most out of RightsHUB is understanding that when all this data is in one place, really useful things can be done in just a few clicks.
For instance, the Contracts tab can hold the fine details of each deal an artist is part of: breaking down the contractual information, including the type of contract, dates of expiration, profit share splits, territories, etc.
Contracts can be issued – using templates populated with information pulled from this data – and then emailed to all appropriate parties at the click of a button. Statements for royalty payments can be recorded, tracked and chased up.
The Content tab, on the other hand, centralises all of the various assets, artworks, audio files, hyperlinks – everything needed to be sent to musical recognition technology (MRT) companies, and so on.
That allows some interesting things to be done: a “Pages” function can be used to automatically create a promo page for a new release, which can then be sent out to journalists, labels or playlist creators. All the required assets like artwork, embedded audio, artist bio, ISRC codes, publisher data – anything – is pulled together from the backend and compiled into a branded landing page, which is then published to the web.
Metadata and data-checking
But what about even more fiddly stuff like metadata? How much can you throw at RightsHUB? “Everything and anything!” is Morrison’s cheerful reply. All the Media Enrichment and Description Standard (MEAD) information can also be added to a release: lyrics, composer data, tagging, ISRC, master-led Publishing info, and custom fields or IDs for DSPs.
Again, it’s obviously useful for this to be collated in a single place, but is also can then power incredibly important DSP-adjacent opportunities – it’s this information, for instance, that is needed to enable smart speakers to recommend and play music via voice discovery, or supply relevant supplementary information.
Keeping MEAD data up to date and closely linked to the music means artists can optimise their music for voice search.
Morrison explains how this information is then delivered, before a song is released, “to all of the MRT companies like Gracenote, DJ Monitor, and BMAT, etc. Most companies don’t deliver to an MRT until the record is released – and this is no good because most people are promoting songs months out before releasing.”
To do this, RightsHUB clearly explains which minimum data – for both catalogue or new releases – needs to be entered in order for the system to deliver it. If certain data is missing, it will be flagged in red, with explanations of which data is required for each MRT.
Another feature called DataDoktor will sift through your catalogue’s metadata to check if it fully fulfils the requirements to be supplied to, for instance, a DSP. So if your catalogue contains, say, ancient jpegs which are too small for modern platforms, you’ll know exactly which ones need to be replaced.
The Rightstracker tool currently pulls together information from Spotify, pooling the data around an artist’s worldwide releases, and the company is currently adding in other data sources including Discogs, Apple Music, and Beatport.
It means users can do useful things like spot where a song is being played a lot and check if the license has expired in that country. Morrison explains that he wants to make this information “easy to read and easy to action” for non-technical people.
“The holy grail of Rightstracker is to find out when a track or a right is exploited,” he says. Another example he gives is helping a team spot when a song blows up on the radio on the other side of the world, and then quickly diverting marketing spend there.
In the end he hopes that it means all data about rights exploitation will be pulled into the one hub, “so if you’re getting reporting from a CMO or PRO, and you know you’ve been getting exploitation in certain areas in the world, you want to be able to make sure you are getting paid for that.”
Pricing and future development
Morrison is passionate about what he is building and is keen to make it accessible: “I’m building it for the masses. The reason I’m keeping it cheap is because I want anyone to be able to use it.”
Pricing starts at £15 per month, for an account with 1 user, 50 assets, 200 contracts and 5GB data storage – plenty for a DIY artist or label. Payment tiers increase in many increments all the way to £299 per month, which allows for thousands more assets, contracts and GB of data – and bespoke packages are possible too. There’s a 14-day free trial available too.
He’s excited about developing RightsHUB into a multi-faceted, one-stop platform that serves everyone’s needs: “I’m always open for ideas, and am constantly learning from my clients – we’ll keep developing it further and further.”