Musical Work Data and Rights communication (MWDR)

The Musical Work Data and Rights communication standards (formerly: Works Notification and Licensing Standards) provide a uniform mechanism for exchanging data for the process of obtaining licenses for the mechanical right in musical works for companies based in the US (usually record companies or DSPs) using those musical works in their business.

These standards deal with essentially the same entities as they are highly inter-related, sharing common structures, ontology and data dictionary. Unsurprisingly, therefore, there are common components to all these standards.

 Core concepts

Many of the concepts listed below will be familiar to most readers already, but a common understanding of core concepts is essential for the Works Notification and Licensing Standards.




Many of the concepts listed below will be familiar to most readers already, but a common understanding of core concepts is essential for the ensuring that all implementations of the DDEX standards are coherent:    


Licensee is defined by DDEX as “A Party to whom permission to use a Creation is granted in a License Agreement”. In the context of works licensing, the Creation is a Musical Work, i.e. a composition, lyrics or adaptation. Licensees are typically record companies or DSPs.

Manuscript Share

Manuscript shares is the Right Share of a Musical Work as agreed between the Writers (and before the involvement of publishing or publishers). The sum of all manuscript shares on a Musical Work equal 100%. It is possible (though unusual) for Manuscript Shares to vary by Territory or Rights Type. Manuscript Shares are often referred to as Writer Shares.

Original Publisher Share

Original publisher share is the Right Share of a Musical Work as represented by the first publisher in the chain of title. The Original Publishers of a work can therefore change over time. The name "Original" is therefore contractual (rather than meaning the "first" publisher in a temporal sense.)

Collection Share

Collection share is the Right Share as calculated for the collection of money for Right Shares. Collection Shares are often referred to as Final or Payable Shares. In the context of the Letters of Direction Choreography Standard, Collection Shares are the Right Shares that are being transferred from a Relinquishing Publisher to an Acquiring Publisher.


Many of the identifiers listed below will be familiar to most readers already, but a little more information follows on identifiers that may be less familiar:

  • Party Identifiers

    • International Party Information Name Number (IPI)
      IPIs are identifiers assigned to writers and publishers by SUISA (the Swiss musical work collecting society) on behalf of CISAC (the network of worldwide authors’ societies). It is very widely within the music publishing world by both music publishers and CISAC members. It is a well maintained and reliable identifier (and is of sufficient quality that it is used within the ISWC standard).

    • International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI)
      ISNI is an ISO identifier for public identities of people and organisations. At the moment it is not widely adopted in the music industry, but its use is expected to increase significantly over time.

  • Musical Work Identifiers

    • International Standard Work Code (ISWC)
      ISWC is a unique, permanent and internationally recognised ISO identifier for the identification of musical works, including compositions, lyrics and adaptations. ISWCs are now allocated  centrally by CISAC through an automated allocation system.

    • Collection society proprietary identifiers
      Such identifiers may be helpful where an ISWC is not available and parties need to reconcile a number of work claims together into a single consolidated picture of a work. For example, YouTube use the HFA Song Code for this purpose. Since DDEX's works notification and licensing standards currently focuses on the US, it is likely that identifiers from the music rights societies in the US (HFA, ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, GMR) and Canada (CMRRA, SOCAN, SODRAC) are most likely to be relevant.

  • Sound Recording and Video identifier

    • International Standard Recording Code (ISRC)
      ISRC is the international identification system for sound recordings and music video recordings. ISRCs are allocated by the record company that wishes to market a sound recording or music video recording.

  • Release Identifiers

    • International Code Product Number (ICPN) 
      ICPNs, also called Global Trade Item Number, are bar codes for products defined by GS1. ICPN can be allocated by any organisation that wants to trade such an item. ICPNs are better known as a Universal Product Code (UPC), European Article Number (EAN) or Barcode

    • Catalogue numbers
      Catalogue numbers are unique numbers typically allocated by a record company for a product. They follow no prescribed syntax.

    • Global Release Identifier (GRid)
      GRid uniquely identifies a "Releases" of music over electronic networks, so that they can be managed efficiently. A Release is defined precisely in the Standard but can be understood as a collection of recordings or other media that are grouped together for commerce. Products can be made from Releases by, for instance, choosing a technology to encode the recordings (such as MP3 or AAC) or a business model (such as sale or rental). By assigning a unique GRid to a Release, it can be identified without ambiguity in, for instance, reports of sales of products based on the Release.

There are four standards that make up the Musical Work Data and Rights communication (MWDR) standards:

Musical Work Right Share Notification Choreography (MWN)
US Musical Work Licensing Choreography Standard (MWL)
US Letters of Direction Choreography Standard (LoD)
Bulk Communication of Work and Recording Metadata (BWARM)