Driven by data - introducing DDEX

DDEX is the Digital Data Exchange with a mission to standardise the data supply chain, for the most efficient and effective data processing and exchange of revenues.

As our Chief Executive Officer Peter Leathem recently mentioned in his speech at the company AGM, data is at the heart of PPL’s business. Managing the high volumes of information we receive as efficiently as possible is central to maximising the money that our performer and record company members are entitled to receive.

Due to the importance of data and standards to PPL, we sit on the board of DDEX. This is a group of organisations across the music industry with a mission to standardise the data supply chain, for the most efficient and effective data processing and exchange of revenues. We sit on the board with 18 other companies including Universal Music Group, Sony Music, Warner Music Group as well as Apple, PRS for Music and Spotify to name just a few.  

Matt Phipps-Taylor, PPL’s Head of Insight & Innovation and PPL’s representative on the board of DDEX, tells us a bit more about DDEX and why it’s something our members might like to know about.  

How long has PPL been part of DDEX?

On 1 July 2018 we will celebrate our 12th anniversary as a DDEX member!  DDEX was founded in 2006, and PPL joined that same year.  I have represented PPL on the DDEX board since 2017, alongside representatives from some of the biggest companies across the music industry. The board meets quarterly to review progress across the various working groups within DDEX, to approve additions and updates to standards, and to direct DDEX’s strategic membership and marketing activities.

Why is DDEX so important to PPL’s operations?

Standardising the way that data is gathered, described, and exchanged across collective management organisations and the wider industry is hugely important for maintaining an efficient operation in the face of increasing volumes of data and for capturing the full richness of metadata necessary to accurately and completely distribute revenues to our performers and record companies.  In an industry that is increasingly ‘driven by data’, improving the level of data standardisation is important not just to PPL but for most organisations in the music industry.

What kinds of other organisations form part of DDEX?

DDEX is made up of some of the largest companies in the music industry.  These include the major record companies and publishers, as well as some of the larger independents.  All of the major digital service providers and many smaller services also form part of the consortium.  There are also CMOs, both on the recorded and publishing sides, plus many distributors, aggregators and other technical service partners that provide a lot of ‘data plumbing’ across the industry.

Twice a year DDEX members come together at a plenary (essentially a conference).  These typically run for three or four days, with the several hundred attendees divided into smaller working groups to develop each ‘standard’.  As the others from PPL who have attended some of these can attest, they are quite intense working sessions, with much discussion and debate across the attendees about the complexity of the data structures – which have to keep evolving alongside the changing business and consumption models within the music industry.  I am typically exhausted by the end!  These discussions are very worthwhile though and help to drive up best practice across the industry.

Find out more about DDEX members here.

What is the biggest challenge that PPL faces when it comes to data management? 

Unlike most organisations, PPL is dependent on other parties to provide the key data underpinning our operations, which is probably our biggest challenge.  For example, if we were a high street retailer, we would control our own data about the products we offer, the stores we own, the sales we make, and so on.  However, because we instead receive so much of our equivalent data from other parties – i.e. recording rightsholders, CMOs and licensees - we need to support those parties in capturing and managing that data in an effective, best practice manner that will meet PPL’s needs.

Our DDEX board membership is just one of many examples where PPL shows leadership with regards to improving the standardisation of data across the industry.