What is the Open Music Initiative?

The Open Music Initiative (OMI) is an initiative of the Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE), in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab and other academic institutions. Its aim is to create a shared, open source protocol for music rights owner and creator identification.


Who is involved in the initiative?

Over 190 leading media companies, technology startups and music industry trade groups have joined the initiative, from practically every facet of the music industry. These include Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, BMG, Spotify, YouTube, SoundCloud, Pandora, Netflix, SiriusXM, Downtown Music Publishing, SACEM, Harry Fox Agency, Rumblefish, Featured Artists Coaltion, Music Managers Forum, Future of Music Coalition and over 50 music and royalty collection startups. The full list is available online on the Members page.


What are these companies committing to?

All companies joining have signed a memorandum of understanding that supports the mission of OMI to promote and advance the development of open source standards and innovation related to music to help assure fair and proper compensation for all creators, performers and rights holders of music.


What are companies contributing?

OMI asks all entities to actively inform the project and to contribute to the development of “use cases” for further prototyping of an application programming interface (API) for cross-industry interoperability. Such uses cases may be around data registration, authentication, etc. Interested companies will also contribute code and resources to the project. Furthermore, members can serve on various working groups in order to actively inform the initiative and the effort.


Is Open Music open to more members joining?

Absolutely. OMI is seeking participation from all areas of the music industry ecosystem including artists, labels, publishers, content providers, collection societies, trade groups, startups, and more.


Is there a fee to joining?

Not now. All entities joining must sign the Open Music Memorandum of Understanding. More info can be found on the Join page.


Is the goal of the Initiative to build a centralized database?

No. The objective of OMI is to create a data-sharing infrastructure for music rights owner and creator identification. A main aim of OMI is to develop an open source protocol that will enable interoperability among systems and platforms to facilitate transparency and seamless payment flows within the industry.


Who would own or control the Open Music infrastructure?

No one. That’s how distributed systems work. Information is accessible to all participants, but no one entity controls it.


Does this mean that confidential, private information will be accessible to all participants or the public?

Absolutely not. Think of all the protocols that govern internet traffic as an example. All kinds of applications, products and services are built on top of them but this does not mean that all information or transactions are public or accessible to all.


Is the goal of the Initiative to mandate a standard?

No. Our view is that markets determine standards not academic institutions. This is an open source initiative and the goal of OMI is the create the conditions for a robust, for-­profit ecosystem of products services and applications to be built and thrive on top of the protocol.


Is Open Music a think tank or a conference?



Will BerkleeICE own any intellectual property related to the database or commercially benefit?

No. Berklee is a non-profit academic institution that is leading this initiative as an effort to solve long standing issues related to music rights holder and creator identification and payment flows.


How is the initiative funded?

The 2017 Summer Lab is sponsored by Intel, TiVo and the Inter-American Development Bank. OMI is activity seeking sponsors, as it grows and continues its work convening members and developing open source protocols. More information can be found on the Sponsorship page.

Currently, OMI is funded by private donor contributions to BerkleeICE, whose mission is to foster the entrepreneurial mindset of all Berklee students. BerkleeICE is engaged in many activities beyond OMI including offering classes, workshops, lectures, internships, student trips, online courses, research projects and high school programs -­­ all with the aim of enabling an informing successful careers in music.


How does the process work?

The initiative uses certain member “convergence” meetings to get input and help develop use cases for further exploration in summer labs that are ran by IDEO and which employ students from different universities including Berklee, MIT, and others. The goal of the labs is to further explore these use cases and develop prototypes around them. These prototypes will then be launched into the open source community for proprietary and commercial development.


Where can I find more information about the summer lab?

More information can be found on the Labs page.


Is there a “delivery” date for the protocol?

We are aiming for the summer of 2017.


When did the Open Music Initiative launch?

June 2016. You can find more updates on the OMI website


Why is this project relevant for the music industry?

Our view is that the absence of a shared protocol for identification of music rights owners and creators is suppressing incomes for creators, it contributes to a lack of transparency; and it’s holding back innovation and new revenue growth opportunities for the music industry as a whole.