Flash storage hits the right note for APRA AMCOS

A flash storage array rollout in April 2014 has helped the Australian Performing Rights Association and Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (APRA AMCOS) automatically identify music tracks and process royalty payments to its members.

The Australian not-for-profit collects song writing royalties for its 87,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers from a variety of sources including radio, TV, YouTube, Apple iTunes and Spotify. It also has arrangements with overseas music royalty associations.

For example, if a song written by a United Kingdom based artist is played in Australia, APRA AMCOs will send the royalties to the UK-based Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society and Performing Right Society (MCPS-PRS) Alliance.

Likewise, if a Crowded House song gets played on radio, TV or online in the UK, the MCPS-PRS Alliance will collect royalties and send them back to APRA AMCOS, which in turn passes the money onto the band’s songwriter, Neil Finn.

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  • Prior to the Violin Memory flash array implementation, music matching of titles played online was causing issues for APRA AMCOS.

    “The problem we were getting is that our disk sub system was flat-lining. We got to the stage where there were longer application input and output [I/O] queues,” he said. These I/O wait times were causing delays in royalty processing," said APRA AMCOS chief technology advisor Gus Jansen

    “Upgrading to the flash array has reduced the time involved in tracking and processing royalty requests so copyright owners will continue to receive payments on time despite burgeoning data volumes.”

    Jansen added that information on music titles taken from service providers such as YouTube were difficult to recognise.

    “The [online] service providers tell us the title of the song, the composer and the artist. But they don’t necessarily use identifier codes that we would use. If you take any given title of a song, it’s highly likely there will be more than one song of the same title in our database because we have 15 million songs in the database.”

    APRA AMCOS currently makes royalty payments to artists every quarter. However, it is investigating monthly payments as the returns from Spotify and iTunes are very small – in most cases a song writer will get 1 cent from each download.

    For example, there were 48 million streams of Pokerface by Lady Gaga on Spotify when it was released in 2008. However, she only received approximately US$200 in royalties.

    Royalties from Australian radio plays are better with songwriters making about $3 every time their song is played on the radio, Jansen said.

    Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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