ERN-3 is a widely-used standard that enables record companies or distributors to provide Digital Service Providers (DSPs) with data about releases and commercial terms and conditions under which the DSPs may make available such releases to consumers. The standard can also be used to supplying metadata companies and collective management organisations with data describing a record company’s catalogue of releases.
The same functionality is available when using ERN-4. However, while versions 4.0, 4.1 and 4.2 did not offer much additional functionality, ERN-4 greatly reduces the complexity of the process of creating and ingesting ERN messages created in accordance with version 4.3. This document explains these more general benefits associated with upgrading from ERN-3 to ERN-4.
In addition to these general benefits, ERN 4.3, also offers a number of additional business benefits over the earlier versions of ERN-4 (as well as ERN-3). These business benefits are explained below:
When ERN-3 was developed “immersive audio” had no commercial relevance. Now, however, many recording artists provide their music in different representations of what is “the same” recording but for a different speaker setup. These allow the consumer to be immersed into a 3D sound landscape. These different representations are known in DDEX as “editions”.
ERN 4.3 fully supports the communication of data about immersive audio, including the communication of data about the different sound engineers and mixers who helped to create the immersive edition(s). This enables a record company to provide data about immersive audio edition(s) to DSPs in such a way that gives a consumer a uniform experience of accessing and listening to stereo, surround sound or immersive audio tracks. This is achieved because it enables the DSP to automatically select the most appropriate edition(s) of a track for their consumer to access and listen to which is dependent on that individual consumer’s speaker setup, without the consumer needing to make that selection themselves.
Clips for “shorts”
Over the last few years video streaming services have introduced the ability for user-generated video clips of a few minutes or even only seconds in duration to be created on their services. These are sometime known as “shorts”.
The recording industry is supporting the creation of shorts by providing clips of an appropriate duration from a sound recording or music video that can be used in the creation of shorts. While technically these clips are very similar to preview clips the communication of data about is already a functionality in previous ERN standards, these clips do need to be accompanied by specific terms and conditions of their own. This enables a user-generated content DSP to enable its users that wish to create and upload shorts to utilise the clips in the creation of those shorts.
ERN 4.3 now supports this requirement. The functionality within ERN 4.3 even enables clips to be identified with different metadata from the “parent” recording, e.g. a title of “Comfortably Numb (second guitar solo)” instead of the metadata for the parent recording of “Comfortably Numb”.
Album visibility dates for streaming DSPs
The “street day” is a critical aspect of the terms and conditions that a record company or distributor needs to communicate to a DSP. This is because it sets out clearly from which date the DSP may make available the music to consumers and in which country/ies.
However, there are additional “visibility dates” that govern when a DSP may present a release to consumers. These include, for example:
- When should the DSP be permitted to show the cover art of an album?
- When should the DSP be permitted to show the track listing to consumers?
Up until ERN 4.1 the provision of the data necessary to communicate such information could not be done for streaming-only services although it was possible for download services. ERN 4.2 and ERN 4.3 enable the provision of granular visibility dates, such as those above, for streaming as well as download services.
Hook for rich metadata
The ERN standard is designed to enable a record company or distributor to provide DSPs with core information about the releases and resources that the DSPs may make available to consumers. A recent study has shown, however, that providing additional “rich” metadata can boost music usage significantly and even help to reduce skip rates.
Record companies and distributors that have such rich information available may wish to accompany their ERN message with that rich data to boost usage. DDEX has published two standards that were specifically designed to communicate rich metadata. The Media Enrichment and Description (MEAD) standard enables the communication of rich data about releases, resources and works and the Party Identification and Enrichment (PIE) standard enable the communication of rich data about all the contributors associated with those releases, resources and works.
ERN-4 has a built-in mechanism that enables MEAD and PIE messages to be associated with ERN messages to provide rich data alongside the core information contained in the ERN message itself.
Significantly enhanced handling of classical music
ERN messages have always been able to communicate “structurally classical” music, that is, music where a recording represents a part of a bigger work. Typical examples include movements from concertos. The ERN standard of course also supports simple classical works, that is, classical works that are not part of a hierarchical work, such as a concerto or symphony, as well as non-classical music.
While ERN-3 and ERN 4.0-4.2 have the tags to communicate data about such recordings, in ERN 4.3 the rules as to how to communicate
- The title for the movement;
- The title for the bigger work (concerto, symphony, oratorio etc.); and
- Data about soloists, orchestras, composers and, critically, conductors as well as other contributors have been clarified.
This has been achieved by updating ERN Part 2, Release Profiles to a new version 2.3. This Release Profile version 2.3 accompanies ERN 4.3. Especially helpful is the addition of a new flag that enables the record company or distributor to indicates explicitly to the DSP whether the record company or distributor used the special roles for classical music in the ERN message. In older versions of ERN this information had to be derived, usually from the genre tag, by the DSP. As a consequence, the communication of classical music becomes simpler and requires less human intervention.
Support for moving cover art
ERN messages have always enabled record companies to send album cover images to DSPs. ERN 4.3 now also enables the communication of moving cover art – whether they are technically represented as a movie clip or a series of images.