Irish music industry gains transparency with cloud computing

In this case study, you can read about the Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO), a non-profit that has not only gained transparency with its operations through cloud computing, but has also helped protect music rights of musicians and producers who are an integral part of the SME economy in Ireland.

Formed in 1995, the Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO) is a non-profit national organisation that administers performing rights and distributes royalties for copyrighted music in Ireland to songwriters, composers, and music publishers. Broadcasters, venues, and businesses that play copyrighted material must pay license fees known as public performance royalties through IMRO to the copyright owners.

In 2006, because of the emergence of additional radio stations as well as streaming and download music providers on the Internet, IMRO was faced with a massive growth in the amount of data it needed to process to serve its members. “Data was growing but revenue wasn’t keeping pace,” says Declan Rudden, Director of Distribution at IMRO. “We needed an IT solution that could automate our processes and address the disparity between data and revenue.”

IMRO hired Spanish Point Technologies, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, to build a system that would calculate royalty payments for music performances that take place in the public domain.

With the new system, which launched in 2007, at least 60 per cent of the performance information to the records related to 14 million copyrighted musical works in the IMRO database, by using a combination of automatic matching and history matching, about 96 per cent of performances are matched.

The organisation decided to extend the system’s functionality and created a member portal for musicians to access data. IMRO wanted the member portal to scale as needed to support high-volume use during peak-demand periods IMRO also wanted to avoid setting up an expensive on-premises data centre; however, it wanted sensitive member data to remain on-premises.

“The organisation had classic workload requirements that were well suited to a cloud-based solution. Members go to the portal at regular intervals to check the status of their royalties, and there are times of peak demand,” says Donal Cullen, CEO of Spanish Point Technologies.“However, we were faced with a paradox, because IMRO wanted to take advantage of on-demand computing while maintaining sensitive member data on-premises.”

Other available information from the portal includes an inventory of each artist’s works, how works are stored, any instance of the work being performed or played, what royalty payments were distributed, and how payments were calculated.

Moreover, the system manages “unidentified performances”—performances that can’t be matched to information in the database. By using IMRO Online Member Services, members can search unidentified performances and designate their own works. “It’s like crowd sourcing. We allow our members to match works that we’ve been unable to match,” says Rudden.

Members also can view and download interactive statements to see which stations or online providers played their works.

“Our members are amazed by the Online Member Services functionality,” says Rudden. “Plus, the Windows Azure platform is hosted in one of the largest data centres in Europe, and it includes a stringent SLA [service level agreement] while enabling services to scale as needed by transaction volumes. It’s been a great success.”

                          IMRO royalty distributions are based on the number of seconds of music 
                                                     a broadcaster plays in a given period

You can find the full case study here.

Small & Medium Enterprises are the backbone of Europe’s economy. We work hard with governments and industry to ensure that SMEs get the most out of technology. Thanks to cloud computing that has pervasive benefits throughout the economy, SMEs can now exploit economies of scale, to rapidly expand their business and offer innovative solutions with less risk. This space on our website is dedicated to innovative European SMEs and the added-value of cloud computing to their businesses.

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