Established in 1934, PPL exists to ensure that those who invest their time, talent and money to make music are fairly paid for their work.
It does this through the licensing of recorded music for playing in public or for broadcasting on the radio or TV. The licence fees collected are then distributed to its performer and record company members based upon the music that has been played in any given year.
PPL issues licences to hundreds of thousands of businesses and organisations from all sectors across the UK playing recorded music and/or music videos in public. These can range from bars, nightclubs, shops and hotels to offices, factories, gyms, schools, universities and local authorities. PPL also issues licences to tens of thousands broadcasters and online services such as the BBC, ITV, Sky, Capital Radio, Absolute Radio, and Last.fm
Overseen by an elected board of directors from within the music industry and an executive management team with a varied range of experience, PPL is accountable to its members and licensees. The organisation is committed to delivering a first-class service to all its customers. PPL does not retain a profit for itself - after running costs, all income is distributed to its record company and performer members.
£150 Million in fees
PPL works with governments and industry bodies to manage the rights of its members and ensure appropriate remuneration for music use. PPL collected over £150 million in licence fees in 2011, with £32 million coming from overseas collections. This represents a more than doubling of licence fee income over the past 10 years.
Striving to be better
As PPL becomes ever larger it strives to become even better. In 2009 the company decided that it was time to refresh the technology systems and databases that underpin the distribution of money to members. Driven by increasing data volumes and a desire to provide improved levels of customer service, this was going to be a significant undertaking with the 2 year programme scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2011. Mark Douglas is the Chief Technology Officer at PPL, "We recognised that the world was changing. The impact of digital on music consumption habits was changing the role and profile of PPL. Our distribution to members was taking on new levels of importance and it was vital that we responded. Coupled with increased member expectations on transparency and access to data, we needed to take our systems to the next stage of their evolution. We had long been a recognised world leader in the management of music repertoire data and it was imperative to preserve and build on this position"
Mark said, "We knew from the outset that we didn't want an on-premise technology infrastructure for our new systems. From a project delivery perspective, we wanted the speed and flexibility that comes from a specialist hosting partner. We also wanted to channel all the experience and expertise of the IT team into the delivery of end user functionality. From a logistical perspective, we didn't have the office space to accommodate the required new infrastructure we would need whilst parallel running our legacy systems."
Critical for business
Mark revealed, "Recognising the criticality of these systems to our business, it was vital that we found a partner with a great track record and one that would work with us through the challenges that a programme of work like this presents. We consulted with our project delivery partners and Rackspace became an early favourite based on their positive attitude and strong credentials."
Complex computing requirements
Mark went on to say, "Our computing needs are pretty complex. Secure, dedicated servers running a loosely coupled mix of Oracle and SQL Server -based applications. It's all accessed through a single sign-on, front end portal, with the different components of the overall system integrated using service-based middleware and complex data ETL."
"Our main distribution database already contains over a billion lines of data," said Mark, "and we process 3.2 billion seconds of music usage per year that we receive in large files from our TV and radio broadcast licensees. Our repertoire database is the product of running complex ETL and data quality routines against the 10-million data submissions we have received from our record company members and this grows at the rate of around 10,000 recordings every week."
Mark also revealed, "We run processor intensive routines on a daily basis to de-duplicate and enrich our repertoire database and to cross-match the large volumes of usage data we receive against that repertoire data. A lot of this data then feeds into our rights and royalty management software, a package provided by REAL Software Systems in the USA. Sitting alongside and fully integrated we have Salesforce® providing us with our functionality to manage our 51,500 performer members and 8,500 record company members."
Close and friendly
Mark went on to say, "The close and friendly relationship we have developed with Rackspace over the past three and a half years has proven to be absolutely right for our business. We have been able to scale and evolve the systems over time without the need for huge capital equipment outlays. We have also been able to deploy our IT team on improving our services, rather than being side-tracked by hosting and server management issues. Rackspace are great people to do business with and understand the many issues we face. Technical ability and reputation were key factors when it came to choosing the right hosting partner and in my opinion few companies could match the dedication and Fanatical Support® that has been provided by our dedicated hosting team."
On Line 24/7
Mark continued, "Many of our record company members now upload details of new recordings using our Online Repertoire Registration service. They can also make changes to any previously provided recordings, thereby ensuring our data is as complete, accurate and up to date as possible. This facility requires an assured network uptime capability and Rackspace's 100% network uptime guarantee certainly meets the criteria. This caters well for the round the clock service we need to provide our geographically diverse members."
Stable platform for future growth
Mark summarised, "We now have the stable foundation for managed growth and we know we can rely on Rackspace totally for the delivery and support of new projects as they arise. The future for record companies and performers is very bright as we focus on evolving our systems and data to provide them with an even richer set of services and information. "
Make sweet music
If you are a musician or performer and have not yet registered with PPL then go to the website and sign up. It’s FREE and it could make you some money! Visit www.ppluk.com or call +44 (0) 20 7534 1000 for more information.
If you are relying on the internet for your business then why not have a FREE and friendly chat with the Rackspace team 0800 988 0100 about the latest developments in hosting technology including managed cloud applications. Visit the website at www.rackspace.co.uk.