August 2, 2019

A day in the life of a music monitoring obsessive

Just in case you thought we weren’t obsessed enough with monitoring music, here’s a rare insight into how we BMATers see the world.

Music is everywhere – so much so that it’s easy to forget how far we’ve come since rocking the bone flute. Not only do we have music to thank for giving us the edge over our neanderthal cousins, but she also helped us modern-humans form tighter social bonds back then. Our awkward selves continue to rely on this today. 

Up until a few hundred years ago, music was still a rare and precious thing to treasure. The only way to listen to exactly what you wanted was to make the sounds you wanted to hear yourself – or, like the ancient Greeks, go to the lengths of engraving a complete musical composition on a tombstone.  

Take a moment to appreciate that we now live in a golden age of music where we are surrounded by the good stuff, and can listen to almost anything we want, at any time that tickles our fancy.

On an average day we walk in and out of tens, even hundreds of musical conversations – a discourse between our eardrums and distant artists around the world who some of us rarely stop to give thought to. The guitarist laying down his bassline in a studio in Malawi probably didn’t know it would end up in a dining room in Tuscany, a cruise ship in the Pacific or a New York launderette. Would they like to see some money from this airplay in far-flung corners of the world? Why yes, we think they would. 

This sort of thing plays on our minds more days than we’d care to admit, and causes us more sleepless nights than any amount of listening to Clair de Lune could ever cure. 

A tope con BMAT - monitoring music obsessively

It’s mid-morning, and as we arrive at our hairdresser ready to be beautified, we’re positive that the new Rosalía track on the radio is the very reason he’s snipping a little too enthusiastically. Our innately musical nature means we can’t help but wonder whether he too may need a licence for the music he plays –  just like bars, supermarkets and any other venues do. 

Our ears perk up again around lunchtime when stop for a quick bocadillo. In the bar we hear another conversation – this time between a television playing back-to-back reggae and a hungry audience queuing for their lunch. Just as they are for the radio of our dancing hairdresser, our music reporting algorithms are hard at work monitoring music on TV broadcasts, making sure to tell us the details of each and every track they feature. Whenever music is used – be it online or offline, domestically or internationally broadcast – a report pre-filled with identifications and enriched metadata from our 72+million track database is generated. Broadcasters can use this to efficiently and accurately report the music used in their programmes to societies.

It’s a Saturday afternoon, so we take the opportunity to go for a pleasant stroll by the beach, the salsa of one nearby xiringuito segueing into the folk of the next, and we’re still dreaming of metadata. Yes, there’s a reason we call ourselves obsessive. Metadata is embedded within a track to tell us who it’s by, plus a whole lot more, and we love it enough to want to make it even better.

The evening is upon us, and with it comes the hum of a dancefloor that’s alive with a beating musical heart. We love to dance as much as anyone – the only difference being that while we get sweaty on the dancefloor, we can’t help but think past the music, all the way down to the composition, the artists and the licenses behind it all. To be honest, this can sometimes kill our groove – but such are the perils of working in our profession.

To free ourselves of such party-distractions, we rely on our router-sized music monitor for venues to do the job for us. He sits tucked away with his ears in full swing, picking up every note.  He helps us make sure artists get the reward they deserve for their music – even when the crumpled A4 setlist’s ink is as hard to read as that death metal band’s logo that we won’t admit we like. [We now offer a referral scheme, so anyone who helps us connect to a new venue will be rewarded for getting involved.]

These systems – venue,  broadcast and online music monitoring – make up our network of ears that span across the musical world,  gathering the data of what they’ve been listening to that day, helping the bass guitarists in Malawi, the cellists in Kiev and the pianists in Barcelona all get paid for their work. 

Music makes our lives better, and it’s our job to make sure musicians and composers feel that love back.

Now you’ve got that in your head, just like we do, try going dancing without thinking about it. 

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