DDEX’s Standard for Release Deliveries (ERN) enables record companies to send musical products to DSPs who are thereby enabled to make them available to consumers (notwithstanding any obligations to other rights holders).
ERN is designed to communicate “core information” about such products (in the form of releases, resources and deals) as part of the supply chain between labels and distributors, and DSPs. However, DSPs require more metadata to be successful in marketing that music.
DDEX has recently published a standard for the communication of this type of metadata which would not normally form a part of the data communicated along the supply chain. This is MEAD – the DDEX standard for the communication of Media Enrichment and Description information. As of today, MEAD supports more than 30 different mechanisms for the description of parties, releases, resources such as sound recordings, and works in ways that are different from the data exchanged using ERNs.
A few examples of such information includes:
- Information about “focus tracks”, which is crucial for voice-activated services (i.e. which sound recording or video is to be played when a consumer asks for, for example, “the latest George-Ezra track” – which may well differ from Ezra’s most recently released song because of advertisement campaigns or other events);
- Journalistic material such as reviews about a musical work, a recording, an album or a musician;
- Lyrics of musical works or recordings;
- Information about artist nicknames, whether “official” or not;
- Information about historic chart positions of and/or awards won by an artist, a work, a recording or a release;
- Extended information of interest for aficionados of classical music;
- And many more (see also the "What does MEAD support today" section on the right).
This document summarises what MEAD can be used for (and how) and provides some information about the status of the development.
MEAD: From whom to whom?
DDEX envisages two “modes” for MEAD. The first mode is where media enrichment and description information is sent as part of an ERN feed from a record company to a DSP (potentially, as with all DDEX standards, via aggregators or technical service companies). Labels would be able to send, for example, focus track information to DSPs that support voice-activated services or devices.
The second mode is where such media enrichment and description information is sent from a “metadata provider” to a DSP independently of an ERN feed. A DSP would subscribe to a metadata feed and would receive such information once new data becomes available. Such metadata providers can include record labels (although the label-internal data sources for MEAD may be different from the one used for an ERN feed) as well as companies that specialise in the aggregation of enriched data about parties, releases, resources and works not normally included in supply chain activities.
How is MEAD exchanged?
If media enrichment and description information is communicated alongside an ERN message, the MEAD message is sent like a resource that accompanies the ERN message. This approach works with ERN-3 as well as ERN-4. Therefore, neither the sender nor the recipients will need to update their message exchange process. There is, of course, code to be written for creating and ingesting the MEAD message itself.
Where media enrichment and description information is communicated independently from an ERN feed, the process depicted below is envisaged. This process can be implemented using (S)FTP or a web services API similar to the one used today to communicate ERN messages and their resource files.
What does MEAD 1.0 support?
The forthcoming MEAD standard supports information about musical works, recordings (primarily sound recordings), releases as well as parties such as writers, recording artists and studio personnel.
The table below lists, in alphabetical order, the types of information that the draft version of the MEAD Standard currently contains, and who the likely sources of such information are. In addition, the standard will allow the communication of the name of the author of any of the pieces of information. A label might, for instance, include in their MEAD feed a review of an album written by a reputable journalist. The name of this journalist might then aid recipients of the media enrichment and description information to assess the reliability of the received information.
This list represents the current extent of what MEAD can express. DDEX expects this to expand significantly over the years:
It is essential to note that no company is expected to send or receive all types of media enrichment and description information. Instead, the standard provides a flexible “menu” approach were only those items that a party wishes to send (or receive) are actually communicated.
MEAD is based, like most DDEX standards, on an XML Schema Definition (XSD) that will seamlessly integrate with all other DDEX standards as all DDEX standards are based on a common data dictionary. Implementers of the ERN standard will therefore find it very easy to implement the new standard.
The MEAD XSD can be downloaded from the standard's page or from http://ddex.net/xml/mead/10/media-enrichment-and-description.xsd.