Universal, Sony, SoundCloud, Spotify & More Join Forces for Groundbreaking Initiative

The whole mega media squad has joined forces to operate what is to be a groundbreaking initiative known as the Open Music Initiative (OMI).


“The infrastructure on which our business has operated for the last century is not adequate to address the new ways in which music is being produced and consumed today—and even more so, tomorrow.”

These are the words of Panos Panay, the co-founder of OMI and founding managing director of BerleeICE.In hopes of emphasizing a more ethical, dynamic, and utilitarian economy where all stakeholders of the music industry benefit, Universal Music, Sony Music, and Warner Music have teamed up with YouTube, Pandora, Netflix, SoundCloud, Spotify, and SiriusXM in order to streamline digital music distribution and copyright issues! The OMI plan, that these companies have established together, was reported by the Berklee College of Music’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE) led by its creator Panay. It will all take place at the MIT Media Labs. BerkleeICE shares the idea that major labels and streaming services are part of the 50+ media entities striving to build an open-source platform for tracking music creators and rights owners. Agreed. Other founders include technology entrepreneur Dan Harple and designer and entrepreneur Michael Hendrix.

Panos Panay Initiative
Panos Panay, founding managing director of the Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE) and Open Music Initiative (OMI) cofounder. Image credit: Jose Cuellar

Their goal is to be able to ameliorate the process of compensating owners rightfully. Already, many organizations have signed agreements with this movement, such as CD Baby, Tunecore, Downtown Music Publishing, Featured Artist Coalition, Music Managers Forum, Future of Music Coalition, Boston NPR affiliate WBUR, and various music licensing startups. Panay says:

“We want to use the brainpower, neutrality and convening ability of our collective academic institutions, along with broad industry collaboration, to create a shared digital architecture for the modern music business. We believe an open-sourced platform around creative rights can yield an innovation dividend for creators and rights holders alike.”

And he’s right. The music industry is a complex world that requires a lot of work to be able to be shared across platforms and people, demonstrated successfully, and rewarded fairly. With this idea for an open-source digital space made specifically for the creative rights of talented people producing their passions, this messy and convoluted industry structure may become more efficient and effective.

Zoe Keating Open Music Initiative
Zoe Keating

A Cellist named Zoë Keating noted:

“[The] issues we face across the music industry are complex but what we want is simple: a thriving creative economy that benefits everyone, from creators to companies to consumers. Open Music presents an opportunity to solve some intractable problems and to change the narrative between music and tech.”

Some may feel that the openness will lead to the misjudgment of paying royalties correctly or misunderstanding of who owns what, but others feel that with this initiative, there will be finally a silver lining to all of this chaos between streaming services, like TIDAL, today.

Forbes writer Nelson Granados noted that:

“it looks like finally, the right group is coalescing to fix the music industry’s digital value chain” and noted, “coordinating powerful players like the top music labels will be no easy task, and disagreements are bound to arise. Getting members to commit and invest will be key, and hurdles will arise in the process. But with academics and industry getting together, there is a good chance OMI will finally solve the problem”.

Students, professors and music moguls everywhere are aware of this rising issue in the music realm, but rather than seeing it as a problem that needs to be solved, they see it as an opportunity to try and take head on!

What do you think?


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