Music payments startup Exactuals debuts R.AI, a ‘Palantir for music royalties’

Exactuals, a software service offering payments management for the music industry, is debuting R.AI, a new tool that it’s dubbed the “Palantir for music.” It’s a service that can track songwriting information and rights across different platforms to ensure attribution for music distributors.

As companies like Apple and Spotify demand better information from labels about the songs they’re pushing to streaming services, companies are scrambling to clean up their data and provide proper attribution.

According to Exactuals, that’s where the R.AI service comes in.

The company is tracking 59 million songs for their “Interested Party Identifiers” (IPIs), International Standard Work Codes (ISWCs) and International Standard Recording Codes (ISRCs) — all of which are vital to ensuring that songwriters and musicians are properly paid for their work every time a song is streamed, downloaded, covered or viewed on a distribution platform.

Chris McMurtry, the head of music product at Exactuals, explained it like this: In the music business, songwriters have the equivalent of a social security number, which is attached to any song they write so they can receive credit and payment. That’s the IPI. Performers of songs have their own identifier, which is the ISWC. Then the song itself gets its own code, called the ISRC which is used to track a song as it’s performed by other artists through various covers, samples and remixes.

“There’s only one ISWC, but there might be 300 ISRCs,” says Exactuals chief executive, Mike Hurst.

Publishing technology companies will pay writers and performers based on these identifiers, but they’re struggling to identify and track all of the 700,000 disparate places where the data could be, says McMurtry. Hence the need for R.AI.

The technology is “an open API based on machine learning that matches disparate data sources to clean and enhance it so rights holders can get paid and attribution happens,” says McMurry.

For publishers, Exactuals argues that R.AI is the best way to track rights across a huge catalog of music, and for labels it’s an easy way to provide services like Apple and Spotify with the information they’re now demanding, Hurst said.