I was a sailor. I was born upon the tide

And with the sea I did abide.

I sailed a schooner round the Horn to Mexico

I went aloft and furled the mainsail in a blow

And when the yards broke off they said that I got killed

But I am living still.

Jimmy Webb – Highwayman

In this installment of the Exploration newsletter we share a bit about critical metadata needed for music, a downloadable template, ad rate analytics, a bit of new software we’ve just pushed to production, and a personal story. We appreciate you reading and hope that it will not be long before we’re able to share a laugh in person.

What metadata do I need to know about my music

  • You wrote a song. Worked hard. Poured your soul into the effort. Found a talented artist(s) to breath yet more life into it. Scrutinized every detail.
  • Your company is seeking to acquire or has already acquired another catalog. The numbers folks made sure its pipeline makes X amount of money each quarter and has for the last 40 quarters. You have a pitch person that seems to be smart on the case. All of your registrations, as far as you can tell, are correct from when it was originally submitted.

What metadata needs to be confirmed?

We are often asked to distill what one needs in order to get started putting their best foot foward on YouTube and SoundCloud. What are the common denominators? What data points are mandatory and what are optional? If I don’t have this information already, where can it be found? Below you will find a template you can download and share.

  • Song Title – This is the title of the song. It may also be helpful to include AKA and common misspellings here.
  • ISRC – International Standard Recording Code. This is usually an alphanumeric value that is issued by IFPI. Learn more here – – Youmay purchase a bank of numbers if you are a label or distributor. If you’ve distributed your music via a record label or independently to any of the larger streaming outlets then your titles most likely already have this code assigned .
  • ISWC – International Standard Musical Work Code. This is an internationally recognized code for all musical works issued by CISAC. The most common use of this code is to identify musical compositions. Learn more here – The PRO in the territory you have registered your work with will assign this unique identifier.
  • Custom ID – This value is unique to your system. The purpose is such that when you get a statement from YouTube or another platform/service, you will know which video or stream should be associated with the appropriate work in your catalog.
  • Writers/Composers – These are the individuals that actually composed the song. They wrote and arranged the melody, notes, and lyrics of the work. When the song is composed is the best time to establish who these interested parties are. When there is a dispute as to who wrote what, revenue collection is often hindered.
  • Splits – This is defined as to who owns what. For example: when two writers compose a song, the split is usually 50/50. The best time to establish on paper who wrote what percentage is often while the recording is being made. Usually the writers are present.
  • Publishers – Publishers usually control compositions and represent composers. They do not control master recordings or artists.
  • Territory – These are the countries where you control a copyright. The territory is often times listed simply as ‘World Wide’.
  • Artist/Band – This is the entity that performs the song.
  • Label – Labels are usually the entities that represent artists and the songs they perform. They do not control the composition or composers.

Music Metadata Template

Ad Rates Will Triple In The Next Three Months

As the holidays approach, gross advertising revenue will likely peak out at three times the current rate. Below are some actual Exploration analytics from last year.

Gross revenue increases during this period as a result of a couple of variables:

More advertisers are paying more money to reach shoppers during the holidays.
More people are online as a result of the northern hemisphere going cold for winter and being indoors.
Now might be a good time to do a check up on the media one controls that is affected by advertising rates, across all platforms.

Software to Identify ISRC

Exploration started with the sole purpose of helping music publishers get the most from their catalogs on YouTube. YouTube and other user generated content networks presented unique challenges. For the first time a musical composition could be, or was already associated with, a sound recording that might have been unknown or unauthorized. The days of popular song writers connecting with popular artists are not completely gone, but there is an emergence of a new type of performing relationship. Any person with gumption and a laptop can make covers, remixes, mash-ups, and interpret to any song they have heard.

When seeking attribution and payment, services and platforms often ask composers and publishers for ISRC and master recording data. The answer is often “I know the ISRC information about songs that contain my copyrights, about as well as the dog knows how to cook salad.”

Up until about 10 years ago, any time Jailhouse Rock got played, one knew it was Elvis singing and subsequently, knew the composers were Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. There wasn’t an opportunity for me, you, or that kid from who-knows-where to record and distribute an interpretation of the song in a material way ie producing money.

Then YouTube happened. Oh, that changed things.

YouTube made it so ridiculously easy to distribute media!

Even I can record Jailhouse Rock! I can distribute it to the world and generate real money that will come directly to me with a click of the mouse!

But wait! I may have recorded an awesome cover, creating a new master recording, but Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller deserve attribution for writing it and any monies the composition generates.

What to do? Up until very recently, we were aware of only a few ways to identify sound recordings that might contain certain compositions within YouTube:

  1. Ingest those known connections via catalog into YouTube
  2. Rely on Harry Fox to supply YouTube with mechanical licensing metadata
  3. Rely on YouTube’s Content ID system to algorithmically make the connections
  4. Manually search for sound recordings that might contain one’s compositions
    Working on catalogs larger than a couple 1,000 titles was a laborious and costly endeavour.

So we built a robot.

I’m super excited to announce today that we are adding Sound Recording /ISRC search and identification software to our suite of offerings. It works well to help music publishers identify all of the recordings that contain their songs, and most importantly, provides them with the unique identification codes (ISRC) critical to assuring attribution and payment on YouTube and beyond. It’s important to note that the robot (software) doesn’t mind large jobs. Whether one’s catalog has 150 or 150,000, this new software will be able to match compositions with master recordings with relative ease and efficiency.

To our publishing partners, this software presents new opportunities by finding more recordings that contain their copyrights. This process can be performed with frequency, such that a rights holder may establish the authoritative database of their musical works.

Yay, robots!

Production Music Association Conference at the Director’s Guild of America

I was honored to join Ivy Tombak – President of Litchfield Entertainment and Treasurer of the Production Music Association, Connor Marks – Publishing Operations Manager of APM Music, and Shawn Lemone – VP, Film & TV/Visual Media of ASCAP, which was moderated by Nan Wilson, owner of Manage Ad Music. Mo’ Money: Performance Royalties For Commercials. We discussed a myriad of revenue streams to be exploited, how one might achieve the most profitable experience, and the pitfalls to avoid. Nan has a terrific curiosity on how rights holders can get the most from commercial use. Her questions and steering of dialogue made for an informative and entertaining session.

The takeaway that I continue to revisit is the impact of organizing one’s metadata for one channel affecting other channels in a positive way. I made a quick video that explains a bit more, but here is a quick and dirty summary:

Publisher Paul cleans up his metadata on YouTube for creator attribution and collection of ad revenue. Paul gets paid advertising royalties each month as a result of the ads that appear on videos that contain his copyrights. Then, each quarter, YouTube reports viewing analytics to ASCAP. ASCAP then pays public performance royalties to Paul based upon the aforementioned analytics.

See what happened there? The work done for the ads is all of the sudden giving performance a boost! And ASCAP (or whatever PRO or platform or service) wants…………needs! this data in order to pay writers and artists more money.

Anywho, we all had fun and got great Q/A from the crowd. The following offer still stands from everyone on the panel: Please do reach out to any of us offline to further discuss and answer questions on these ideas.

Hunter Williams and the Production Music Association put on an incredible event! This is absolutely a conference you should consider attending and if prudent, sponsoring. Thank you for having me.

Live Music This Past Month

Belinda Carlise – More than one mustache and pair of high waisted jeans in this crowd at the Fonda. Hat tip to Peter Adams on keys.

Blake Mills – All of the musicians at this show were stellar, but this man’s hands did the talking on the guitar.

Fallout Boy with Whiz Khalifa – An electric performance at the Bowl.

Ottmar Leibert – A beautiful show in a classy theatre. Hat tip to Chris Steele, my neighbor, on drums.

Burning Man – Sure, I’d like a some tunes with my dust. I think that was Daft Punk on the Main Stage.

Know of a show that we really shouldn’t miss? Please drop us a line!

Rene is making art

I’m going to break our normal programming to tell a story. For those not interested in personal stories, unrelated to music and media, feel free to skip this section.

Rene (COO and Co-Founder of Exploration) and I met many a moon ago on the rugby pitch. I was playing for the Santa Monica Dolphins and she began turning up to snap a few photos of the action on game day. It was pretty cool for us muppets trying to move the goose egg to and fro, as there wasn’t much of a fan section to be had… it was a bring your own chair type of thing… long gone were the days of eating whatever I wanted without gaining weight and of course, the national championship runs of the mid 2000’s…so having someone that had a clue on how to take photos and actually make them available within 24 hours was quite remarkable. So much so, that we became fast friends. She was dependable, fun to be around, and actually knew what she was doing… the pictures were awesome!

Fast forward a few years…

Santa Monica Rugby Club has had better seasons than the past few and I like to be grumpy when I go watch them play. I get a little pissed off as the current lads leave a bit to be desired on defense and a bit more pissed off because I no longer play. I’ve become quite the curmudgeon, but never mind me. Rene has continued to diligently appear on Saturdays, snapper in hand, to catch the best action shots imaginable. Over time spent on the sideline rousting the other side, and generally trying to cause as much trouble as possible, I learned that this wasn’t Rene’s first rodeo as a photographer. She had started shooting football in high school and then concert photography in college at Belmont. Rugby caught her eye in 2002 when she landed in Los Angeles. It would be 8 more years of volunteer work with local clubs and Play Rugby USA for children, before getting her first credentials to shoot the USA Eagles in 2010. She’s gone on to shoot the best players in the world representing Wales, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Canada, France, Scotland and South Africa. And yet, she still shoots SMRC.


We’re sitting in the office about a year ago and she reports that she is filling out a form on the IRB website to apply to shoot the Rugby World Cup.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

How silly, I thought.

The IRB is the rugby equivalent of FIFA and filling out some random contact form to ask if she could shoot at the World Cup in London, to me, was equal to writing to Verizon at about a dispute in a bill. That email would surely be dispatched to the abyss… to be answered by exactly zero humans, if even by a robot.

She’s the one laughing now…

Turns out there was a human on the other side. One that would ultimately grant her the opportunity to shoot no less than 16 Rugby World Cup matches, from the beautiful manicured grass of the pitch itself, in London.

Once she was listed as an official photographer, the good folks at Canon USA #CanonProUSA reached out to gift her the latest and greatest cameras, lenses, and bags. Then came the official apparel provider with awesome kit, as London weather is always just so lovely. Then came the Rugby Corner, famous for some of the best one liners you’ll ever hear in rugby commentary (ie – That was the biggest hit since the Beatles rolled through!) …and it hasn’t stopped. More games have been added to her weekend schedule while in the UK, news outlets from around the world have picked up her photos, and she is getting more and more recognition as an artist.

I am so proud. I am so proud, not only because Rene is a hell of a business operator and my partner, but because she is also an artist and is following her dream.

It makes things different. It makes things different when we are deciding who to work with. It makes things different when we as a company assert ownership on behalf of our clients on the art that they have created.

So, if you email Rene in the next few weeks you may get an auto-reply stating she’s in the UK and available M-F from 9-6pm GMT. On the weekends she’ll be busy…capturing magic moments on rugby’s largest stage.

To keep up with all of Rene’s adventures and photos, please visit –

She writes, “My favorite pictures are of the players I’ve gotten to know. When I start to understand who they are, the goals of their lives, and how the game is played, I change how I take the photos. It gives me the opportunity to shoot with intent, not only to get a great shot but also to encourage and support them from the sidelines.”




Here’s to you, Rene! Congratulations!!

Stay close,

ps – YouTube just updated their stats page. Holy tomatoes!

pps – Some folks called a bit confused with the way I worded the last installment of this newsletter: ASCAP Doesn’t Know About Your Music On YouTube Unless You Tell Them… That has edited for clarity and now reads: ASCAP Doesn’t Know About Your Music On YouTube Unless You Tell YouTube
Thanks to Rene Merideth and Chris Steele for reading drafts of this.


Toby Faletau of Wales scores a diving try against Argentina (2013)

Members of the Santa Monica Dolphins during the pre-game anthems (2014)

USA v Canada compete for a line out (World Cup Qualifier Match (2013)