Global Technology Consultancy DataArt Shares Insights Impact of Audio Fingerprinting on the Music Industry

New York, NY, June 14, 2017DataArt today shared their latest findings on audio fingerprinting, a technology which carries the potential to radically change the way music is analyzed and tracked, providing a more accurate and efficient system for the industry.

What Is Audio Fingerprinting?

At its core, audio fingerprinting for the music industry requires two basic elements to work: a database of unique audio fingerprints of music files and software that can process and analyze entries when searching for a match in that database.

Employing digital approaches to identify electronic sound files without the use of audio fingerprinting proves to be exceedingly problematic. For example, when a computer stores or catalogs a recording, it may consider various encoding qualities of the same song to be completely different musical pieces. Even though the audio coming from a CD may sound more or less the same as a high-quality MP3 to a listener, most audio compression techniques make significant changes to the binary encoding of an audio file, which prevents a computer from being able to identify the files as being a single song correctly. To solve this problem, audio fingerprinting uses a software algorithm to analyze a recording from any medium and creates a digital summary of some of the file's essential attributes. By using parameters such as frequency, intensity, and time, the software can create a virtual map of peaks and anchor points to identify the recording accurately. The resulting audio fingerprint is similar to an actual fingerprint. Every audio fingerprint is unique, and every piece of recorded audio can be identified correctly using this method.

There are several different types of audio fingerprinting that exist, including open source solutions such as MusicURI, The Echo Nest and AcoustID. Last.fm provides a partially open-source solution, as the client-side audio fingerprinting library is open-source, while users still have to query their identification and metadata provider services. Commercial audio fingerprinting platforms are also available, including the popular Shazam mobile app, which allows users just to press a button on their smartphone to quickly identify a song as they hear it.

Applications in The Music Industry

The applications for audio fingerprinting in the music industry are tremendous. In addition to providing the ability for music fans to quickly identify songs with solutions such as Shazam, the technology can be used to accurately determine proof of ownership. For example, broadcast monitoring can create a complete list of the audio that was played on a radio station, and can subsequently ensure that royalties are correctly distributed to artists who own the rights to those songs. This process, sometimes known as "song-spotting," is also used in online platforms such as YouTube to determine whether or not music in the background of videos is owned or licensed by the user who uploaded the content. In the event that the user does not have the rights to use the audio, the system will notify them to remove it due to copyright infringement. This application is very useful in managing the problem of music piracy and will become increasingly valuable moving forward.

Another noteworthy application for audio fingerprinting in music is solving the problem of legacy audio content that doesn't contain accurate or complete metadata. Many files that are downloaded from the Internet exist without even the basic information that is required to identify the music correctly. Audio fingerprinting provides a simple solution to uniquely link the plain audio content to related metadata, thereby allowing the listener to gain access to song titles, artist names, and other valuable information.

Copyright Management

One of the biggest challenges facing songwriters and music publishers is the continued lack of transparency in copyright management. Unfortunately, massive amounts of royalty money collected by Performance Rights Organizations (PROs) remain unpaid to the copyright owners, as it cannot be correctly matched and distributed. This occurs for a variety of reasons, including missing or incorrect metadata, as well as outdated or incompatible database systems.

A large number of international radio stations and music venues still report music playlists in old-school formats as opposed to real-time digital systems. These earnings are then divided among major labels and publishers using an estimation system, instead of being accurately distributed to the rightful copyright owners. Audio fingerprinting has the potential to alleviate this problem by identifying every piece of music that is used in every payable medium and subsequently distributing the earnings appropriately.

Fan Engagement And Music Marketing

Audio fingerprinting apps like Shazam can be used to provide a new world of marketing and fan engagement opportunities in the music industry. In its basic form, these platforms allow listeners to easily and accurately identify a song they hear on the radio, in a television show, during an advertisement, or even while walking through a mall or sitting in a restaurant. This often leads the consumer to purchase a song directly from the app or start following the artist on a social media platform. The user can also opt to search for YouTube videos related to the song, which opens up a multitude of marketing possibilities targeted to consumers who enjoy a particular track or style of music.

The potential is only limited by the creativity of marketers. Audio fingerprinting services can be used to provide sophisticated listening suggestions to music fans, which record labels and other music marketers can use to increase the popularity of artists. As an example, Facebook includes an automated audio tagging service using a smartphone microphone. This creates a significant opportunity for songwriters and music publishers, as it allows new fans to quickly identify songs, share them with others, and easily purchase tracks.

Summary

From alleviating the lack of transparency in music copyright tracking and royalty distribution to providing advanced solutions for reducing piracy on the internet, robust audio fingerprinting can have a significant impact on the music industry. Although song identification solutions such as Shazam are already popular, the complete application of audio fingerprinting in music marketing and fan engagement may still be in its infancy. By drawing on extensive knowledge and experience with a broad range of audio solutions, technology consultancies are developing innovative methods to be adopted by corporations, record labels, artists and other industry players to revolutionize the multitude of uses for audio fingerprinting in the future.

About DataArt:

DataArt is a global technology consultancy that designs, develops and supports unique software solutions, helping clients take their businesses forward. Recognized for their deep domain expertise and superior technical talent, DataArt teams create new products and modernize complex legacy systems that affect technology transformation in select industries.

DataArt has earned the trust of some of the world’s leading brands and most discerning clients, including Nasdaq, S&P, United Technologies, oneworld Alliance, Ocado, artnet, Betfair, and skyscanner. Organized as a global network of technology services firms, DataArt brings together expertise of over 2,200 professionals in 20 locations in the US, Europe, and Latin America.

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