As the Co-Founder of OpenPlay, a music technology company dedicated to streamlining the flow of music across various market channels, I witness firsthand the monumental impact of DDEX standards. They’re the architectural blueprints that guides the seamless exchange of musical assets and metadata among labels, distributors, and digital service providers like Spotify, ensuring that the rightful creators and owners are compensated.
However, it is disheartening to see the misappropriation of the data shared via the DDEX standards by certain factions within our industry. These standards were conceived to foster transparency, efficiency, and fairness but have been weaponized for competitive advantage. Instead of leveraging protocols like CWR to propel the industry forward, some distributors choose to hoard the vital data from the labels they are supposed to be serving.
A battlefield of conflicting data
When distributors choose to withhold this information from artists and labels, they aren’t just withholding data; they are precipitating a cascade of complications that reverberate through the industry. It forces stakeholders to engage in a tedious, costly exercise of data recreation, which inevitably breeds errors and inconsistencies. The market soon becomes a battlefield of conflicting data versions. The fallout is a quagmire of legal disputes, delayed payments, and disillusionment among artists.
Ironically, companies like OpenPlay and others have a mini-industry fixing people’s data. But it’s not work that we want to do. It’s not high-value, and we’d much rather dedicate our efforts to the vision of a truly seamless environment of data and asset exchange. While there isn’t a transaction fee for bad data practices we can point to, everyone reading this will recognize the resources that are required to fix and exchange data – it’s dead weight, and it’s a waste.
And for what? Within OpenPlay, we call such practices “barriers to exit,” whereby certain parties refuse to return or make it difficult for owners and artists to get their data and assets back at the end of a deal. The short-sightedness of such practices is staggering. The vast resources expended on exchanging catalogs, whether re-creating or re-cleaning data, redelivering assets, or late-stage cleanup, can be channeled towards innovation, towards elevating the industry to new heights. Instead, we are mired in a self-inflicted crisis, squandering time, money, and the goodwill of our artistic community.
Fairness, transparency and respect
The music industry needs to take a long, hard look at our data exchange practices. The DDEX standards, created and maintained by companies across the industry and free for anyone to implement, are a powerful tool, a cornerstone for building a robust, fair, and transparent music ecosystem. It should not be a technical barrier available only to the largest players with the necessary resources, nor should it be a bargaining chip to be hoarded or leveraged for narrow gains. Let’s honor the open and collaborative spirit of DDEX, let’s unlock the doors it’s meant to open, and steer our industry towards a horizon where fairness, transparency, and respect for artistic endeavor are the prevailing norms.
To this end, OpenPlay is presenting a series of proposals for critical improvements to DDEX at the upcoming Plenary meetings (November 13-15) in Washington, DC. But we’re also proposing a policy change, an industry guideline that should be included in every contract – a Pledge that at the end of any contract with an artist or label, that all data and assets be returned to the artist or owner in the standard DDEX formats. This is no technical challenge – every player delivers DDEX files to Spotify, Apple, and all the other DSPs, we only ask that the same files be returned to artists and owners. And every distributor should agree to accept DDEX files, realizing the full potential of DDEX standards to truly enable the efficient exchange of data and assets.
Enough already with the petty data hoarding and the disdainful disregard for the artists’ rightful dues. Let’s elevate our practices, uphold the integrity of the DDEX standards, and in doing so, uplift the entire music industry to a realm where creativity thrives unshackled, unhindered by self-inflicted barriers to commerce.
With over 15 years of experience in the finance, music, and technology arenas, Edward Ginis has built a reputation for developing effective legacy technology modernization strategies, incubating new business models, and successfully managing large-scale global software system implementations. Ginis currently serves as Chief Client Officer at OpenPlay, where he heads planning and development of new features and products for the company’s diverse client roster while driving client growth and acquisition. He co-founded OpenPlay in 2013 after serving as the CTO of Concord Music Group, where he got his start as VP of Information Services, managing all aspects of corporate technology and overseeing technology alignment and all software integrations associated with Concord’s acquisitions of Fantasy Records, Rounder Records, and Telarc International.
After Concord itself was acquired by Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, Ginis was named VP of Information Services & Technology, where he was responsible for all technology across both Village Roadshow and Concord, leading efforts to integrate their offerings during and after the merger. Ginis was then promoted to SVP, Information Services & Technology, where he oversaw all aspects of technical separation during the sale of Concord to Wood Creek Capital Management. As an industry leader in the technology space, Ginis is an in-demand speaker at major music industry events including the annual Music Biz conference, SXSW, Mondo.NYC, and Indie-Con. In June 2021, he was chosen as one of 46 music industry leaders to be a part of Leadership Music’s 32nd Class, graduating in May 2022. Ginis is also an advisor for startups Westcott Multimedia and ScreenSpace, as well as an advisor and investor in hologram company Proto.