AI Catalog Optimization is Here — What Now?

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Digital Music News and our longtime partner Reprtoir joined forces for a livestreamed panel.


On the occasion of Reprtoir and Cyanite teaming up to launch Audio AI, an auto-tagging and similarity research tool powered by artificial intelligence, we touched base on a few hot topics for the music industry companies managing catalogs and their challenges with:

From scattered assets and metadata across various platforms to the barrier for creation being considerably lowered these last few years, our panelists went over the main issues music professionals are facing and the best solutions.

All in all, we asked ourselves how to manage assets professionals already have at hand, add new information, trade catalogs safely and create one unique source of information for a company’s teams? Follow the discussion with the recording or grab the key takeaways here!

A Brand New Way to Think About Assets and Catalogs

Lately, catalog sales have been all around, everyone has heard about the vast amounts put into obtaining the most prominent artists’ rights. Catalogs are moving around more often than ever, but this trend necessitates a clear understanding of what assets are worth to negotiate. Companies like Gerencia 360 are regularly dealing with offers and potential sales. Juvenal Juarez took the time to explain how difficult a clear understanding and a full view of what you own is for music companies.

Knowing your entire catalog is impossible; there will always be a small portion of rights, or rights-holders identity, owners won’t be able to identify. Managing assets and their metadata the right way helps find the blind spots, adding new metadata in an already organized system when it’s possible and eventually reducing the liability to a minimum. In the end, a music business has to know how to do business, and using tools to understand what’s in a company’s roster is essential.

Beyond the business side, it’s also essential to ensure that the internal system makes sense to everyone. “One of the things we really took advantage of with Reprtoir and Cyanite is taking the subjectivity out of metadata tagging. We like to say ‘assets’ but we’re talking about music, it’s art. And because it’s art, there’s a certain amount of subjectivity.” said Danny Dunlap from Beacon Street Studios.

By integrating AI-powered tools, some standardization in the management of assets becomes possible, making workspaces like Reprtoir easier to collaborate on. This means that researching through a catalog becomes much more accessible and can go deeper than recent tracks or a few ideas popping up in one’s head. It becomes way more efficient and values a complete catalog.

Pulling the thread here, this changes how music professionals interact with their catalogs. Accessing the value of data levels the field; it’s not reserved to large companies with resources to tag and deploy searches anymore. “Anybody can now make their catalog work for them right now. You don’t need to spend years studying it to start to maximize on it.” noted Lara Angelil from Reprtoir.

AI as a Collaborative Tool for Music Professionals

On that note, our panelists have been giving feedback on their work with AI in catalog management. The impact is glorious; interfacing with a catalog (large or not) shifts completely as AI allows for surprising results, a complementary proposition through the whole collection of assets.

Markus Schwarzer, founder of Cyanite, expressed how they thought about the AI implication for music professionals: “We come from the fascination of music moments. This moment when music randomly fits perfectly to your situation, activity, mood, who you are at the moment. (…) Being able to speak in your own language, describe the sound you want to listen to and actually get it, is bringing us closer to these music moments than trying to translate your words into keywords.

In the current context, in which Sync takes up a lot of space in music companies’ workload, AI is a must-have. Using smart tools to look for that right track at the right time, independently from the release date, is a big help. As Juvenal Juarez from Gerencia 360 said, “This is a great time for copyright owners to have these tools. We’re scratching the surface on this next-level tagging. Genres are easy to tag but now when you get into emotions that are very human, in the next 5 years, they’ll find a lot of gems for these placements, giving them a boost of energy and motivation.

How do we Integrate AI in the Music Industry?

So now the big question: how to regulate the use of such an important technological shift? According to our panelists, the big debate resides in content ingestion; are we allowed to drop an entire catalog into a massive machine-learning program to train it?

One rule has been set: a fully AI-generated content is not “copyrightable”. So how do we decide if a track has enough “human” in its composition to fall under copyright law? Will we have the right technology to know who or what composed a piece of music? Will it be a cat and mouse game?

More than composition, AI will unveil so much data on the performance of previous tracks that it might become trickier for new artists to match the potential to be used on social media, launch trends and make it a hit again. Indeed, there’s no lucky guess, it’s a way to recreate and inflate value (hence the various big catalog sales we’ve seen happening within the last years).

AI is, therefore, also used by some platforms to determine which tracks are more likely to become a trend based on previous data. The endgame here is to make sure tracks will “work” on platforms and content. As Danny Dunlap from Beacon Street Studios said, “when we get briefed, it’s not uncommon to receive ‘make it sound like TikTok’!”.

Will There Be Too Much Metadata in the End?

With more and more data, more and more creations and the ability to share even more information with it, will there be too much to deal with? According to Lara Angelil at Reprtoir, professionals will be able to manage it easily, as long as they gear up and get the right tools and give clarity on their activity: “scalability is key, with tools like Reprtoir it’s possible to grow with all influx of information (…) knowing your data and having access to you data makes it so much easier to create transparency.

Dive deeper into our discussion with Reprtoir in the replay of our panel, available here!