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As the music industry is becoming more dependent on data and technology, newer standards have emerged to help refine the process of data structuring. One such standard that’s come about is Common Works Registration or called CWR, which has been accepted by many PROs and music publishing administration to help them manage data.

What is Common Works Registration?

Common Works Registration, or CWR, can be hard to understand as it has its roots in very technical language and has yet to be broken down. But let’s explain the broad idea of Common Works Registration.

Common Works Registration is a data format and protocol that was created by CISAC (International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers) to help the registration of musical works. You can find their documentation here and more information from the document creator here

In plain English, CWR is a new method and standard to register music with organizations such as PROs and CMOs. It incorporates a new file format that offers stricter data input and manipulation to help clear up any issues that current implementations are facing. The hope for this format is to better standardize the submission of this music data and help benefit both the publisher who sends it and PRO and CMO who will be receiving it. 

Before this, music publishers would use CSV or even Excel spreadsheets for their submissions. But these file formats had issues with irregular standards that made the end data hard to organize and possibly missing sections. CWR enforces a cleaner standard and a more secure exchange of this information. And for the music publishing administration, this is an important step.

CWR works within a specific CWR software that can create and read CWR file formats. The documentation writer for CWR has created an open-source software called Django Music Publisher which aids in the process. The basis is the software intakes CSV or data entered directly into the software and outputs a machine-readable text file that can only be properly read by computers in CWR software. This isn’t encryption, but a machine-readable standard format to help the software organize the information.

Because of all of this, CWR limits how information is put into its files and how the output looks on the other side. This standard can seem to constrict data input but it helps aid the data flow between publishers and PROs without creating issues. With the adoption of this format, many issues with data sharing can be alleviated. Since the music publishing administration is a pretty big industry to move, it’s always good to make this standard adopted by the right people.

Who Deals with CWR?

Common Works Registration has quickly picked up many supporters. As of right now, it depends on the receiving organization to request this file format, but many are starting to open up to it more after learning of the benefits.

Many PROs and CMOs are picking up CWR as it helps them greatly with their data flows. Performance Rights Organizations, PROs, find that data vital to deal with efficiently as it helps them manage public performance rights and royalties. Collective Management Organizations, CMOs, follow in the same thread as PROs, but deal with licensing performance rights and mechanical rights instead of public rights. We covered PROs and CMOs in more detail in this article.

One of the biggest supporters of the CWR protocol is MusicMark, a collaboration of ASCAP, BMI, and SOCAN who wishes to make the music registration more streamlined. If a user would submit a CWR file to MusicMark, they can register their music with all three PROs simultaneously. They are also accepting Electronic Batch Registration (EBR). You can read more here.

Why Taking Care of Musical Works is Important

This new standard of registering music data comes at a time when much of the music industry is starting to look into music data and metadata. Since the advent of digital music and streaming, it has become apparent that standards should be enforced to help artists, record labels, music publishing administration, PROs and every other entity in the industry interact better.

Managing metadata and music data has become one of the biggest challenges the industry has faced. A single song can have dozens of contributors and a pile of legal paperwork binding royalties that must be distributed. Without proper registration and standard data structures, even a small string of data lost can lead to serious issues down the road.

In the middle of all this, Reprtoir has been hard at work making some of the best data management software available. Reptoir’s Works Manager can help everyone manage their musical work, directly linked to a catalog, playlists and royalty accounting. Music publishing administration requires the right tools and secured workspace. Our full suite of software can help people deal with CWRs or other music data distribution they wish to use while offering an amazing array of software and tools to benefit our users. Read more about Works Manager here, or book a demo through here.

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