Frequently Asked Questions

What is DDEX?

DDEX (Digital Data Exchange, typically pronounced “Dee-Dex”) is a consortium of leading media companies, music licensing organisations, digital music service providers and technical intermediaries focused on creating standards for use by businesses in the digital music value chain. Adoption of the standards improves efficiency, reduces cost and generates higher revenues for all businesses operating in this market.

How will DDEX help?

DDEX was set up to develop a single set of standard message formats for the business-to-business communication of information between organisations operating in the digital music value chain.

Companies involved in the business of providing digital media services have to exchange significant amounts of data. Over the past few years, these services have become increasingly complex, providing more diverse offerings to consumers, with more companies involved in the value chain all dealing with massive increases in transaction volumes. The businesses involved in the provision of these services therefore need to adopt standard message formats in relation to the exchange of information in order to simplify vital business processes for the future.

Even though DDEX standards have been developed and published, data between some individual partners is still being communicated using various proprietary message formats. For example, this means non-standard data about music files is going from record labels to digital service providers and non-standard sales reports coming from these partners back to record labels and music rights societies. Attempting to accommodate numerous message formats increases cost and the risk of errors.

The standards that DDEX is developing are tackling this problem and as DDEX standards become more widely adopted, the use of multiple proprietary message formats with business partners will be a thing of the past and decrease the use of labour intensive manual management and communication of messages. The end result for digital media businesses is faster time to market, improved operational quality and efficiency, improved data quality, reduced transaction management costs, reduced communication costs and reduced development costs.

When was DDEX launched?

DDEX was launched in May 2006.

How is this beneficial to creators and artists?

Standard message formats simplify and increase the accuracy of key processes on which artist and composers depend. Digital sales reports are key to driving royalty reporting whilst licensing permissions are key to ensuring that repertoire is made available for sale in as many places as rights permit.

How is this beneficial to consumers?

DDEX standards are purely for use in business-to-business exchange of data. However, the use of standard message formats can speed up and simplify the communication of data and reduce systems development whilst offering the prospect of a more automated technical environment. Over time it will increase the accuracy of data involved in making content available through digital service providers to consumers.

This will improve the digital value chain process that will enable better quality information to reach the end consumer and may facilitate more content being made available. By having one set of standard message formats to implement, that’s one less problem to worry about leaving more time to devote to the consumer experience!

It is important to note that the use of DDEX messages has no adverse impact on consumers’ privacy concerns. All that the use of DDEX means is that more content becomes available quicker.

Who can join DDEX?

Membership of DDEX is open to any entity with a business interest in digital media content.

How much does it cost to join DDEX?

There are four levels of membership, Charter, Full, Full Individual and Associate. The benefits for each category and the membership fees associated with membership can be found here. However, using the standards themselves is free and you do not have to be a member to do so.

What do DDEX members get?

All members of DDEX get the opportunity to review and comment on all DDEX standards before they are made public. Charter and Full Members can participate in work prioritisation, requirements gathering, development and drafting of DDEX standards. Through active participation, members can ensure that the standards formulated will meet their particular transaction and information needs. They will also have the opportunity to influence the direction of the broader standards development effort and gain early mover advantage in carrying out implementations.

Members are required to work in good faith to support the purpose of DDEX, participate in the process in accordance with their level of membership and to adhere to DDEX’s intellectual property policy. Members also have to make timely payment of their membership fees!

Who are the current members of DDEX?

Since launch, over 100 companies have joined DDEX as Members. The full list of members can be found here.

Who started DDEX?

DDEX was founded by some of the major record companies, major musical work rights societies and leading digital music service providers.

Its work thus far has focused on developing standard message formats for the communication of data about digital music. This is the first time all these leading players in digital music have agreed to jointly work together to solve these serious cross-industry problems around digital music distribution.

Who has implemented the DDEX standards?

DDEX standards have been widely implemented across the digital value chain by digital retailers, digital distributors and aggregators, record companies, music licensing companies, music publishers, musical work rights societies and various technical service providers. These implementations have been deployed by all the major digital music players. Over all more than 4,100 implementation licences have been issued so far and this number is growing daily.

How does DDEX develop its standards?

The detailed standards development work is carried out in technical Working Groups. The specific subject matter and mandates of each Working Group is established by a Board resolution, which will normally specify finite time deadlines. The Board also appoints the Chair of each Working Group, which must be a representative of a Charter or Full Member. Any Charter or Full Member representative with an interest in the subject matter can be a member of a Working Group.

How are decisions made?

If possible, decisions are made on technical issues by unanimity but failing that decisions are made by consensus. Board decisions are made by a simple majority or, for certain more critical issues, super-majority votes. No Working Group has yet failed to reach a consensual solution but if it were to happen the Board would adjudicate on the issue.

How often does DDEX hold meetings?

Working Groups work primarily through telephone conference calls and e-mail. However, at least twice a year, DDEX’s member representatives meet for three days of intensive work on the standards development at a Plenary Meeting. Currently the location of the Plenary Meetings rotates between locations in Europe and the East and West Coasts of North America.

How long have you been working on DDEX standards?

DDEX has been working on standards and associated supporting documentation since the summer of 2006. In that time several iterations of the standards have been produced. Such iterations typically address new requirements being brought forward and/or remove bugs and are all based on input from at least one of the member companies.

However, technical work is more or less a continuous process as DDEX seeks to improve the structure of the standards and to ensure they meet changing market requirements.

What are the current DDEX standards?

All the standards can be found here.

Does any supporting documentation exist to assist implementation of DDEX standards?

Yes. The following supporting documentation is available to organisations that want to evaluate or implement the DDEX standards:

  • This high-level FAQ
  • An overview slide presentation which can be found here
  • A technical Knowledge Base.
Who owns the DDEX standards?

All contributions made by DDEX members in creating the standards remain the property of that member but through the DDEX Operating Agreement, members grant a licence to DDEX where such contributions actually appear in a DDEX standard. This is so that DDEX is in a position to own the copyright in the actual standards.

Do I have to join DDEX to use the DDEX standards?

No. You do not need to be a member of DDEX to use DDEX standards you only need an Implementation Licence, which is free of charge. Further information about Implementation Licences can be found here and the terms of the Implementation Licence can be found here.

How much does the implementation licence cost?

Nothing, it is entirely free.

Why do I have to agree to the clause indemnifying DDEX as the licensor?

This is part of the agreement you enter into to use the industry standard and all companies in the “DDEX ecosystem” have signed it. It is a common standard clause employed by standards setting organisations like DDEX where groups of large companies are collaborating together.

Are messages being delivered by or through DDEX?

No. DDEX is a standards setting organisation. DDEX does not actively participate in message exchange activities between business partners. Messages using the DDEX standard message formats are exchanged directly between business parties.

Are all fields mandatory in the standards? Have the details been defined?

No. The message suite standards have many optional fields to support a wide range of business models and Release types. “Release” is the term used by DDEX to reference a bundle of content, which may be a single track or other creation.

Which elements are mandatory depends on the business model and Release type. DDEX has developed a series of “Business Profiles” and “Release Profiles” that define sets of mandatory information for a range of typical business models and Release types.

Can DDEX messages communicate Japanese or Chinese characters?

Yes. DDEX messages support a wide range of languages and scripts.

What content identifiers are supported by DDEX?

DDEX standards support a wide variety of industry identifiers to identify content. Amongst them are:

  • ISRCs for Sound Recordings and Music Videos;
  • ISANs for Audiovisual recordings;
  • ISMNs for Sheet Music;
  • ISWCs for Musical Works; and
  • ISTCs for Text Resources.
Can I communicate several identifiers for a release, sound recording or party?

Yes. DDEX supports the communication of several identifiers for a single item of content. For example, a sound recording can be identified, at the same time, by an ISRC and a catalogue number and a proprietary identifier allocated by, say, the DSP offering the sound recording to its customers.

What is a DDEX Party Identifier (DPID)?

This is an alphanumeric identifier which uniquely identifies the party that is either sending or receiving a message using a DDEX standard message format. The DPID is defined as a standard by DDEX and is allocated when organisations acquire a DDEX implementation licence.

Can a company have multiple DPIDs?

Yes. Although companies only need one implementation licence to cover all their DDEX implementations it may be beneficial for them to have multiple DPIDs. The application form for additional DPIDs can be found here.

Do the DDEX standards allow the use of custom tags?

No. Adding custom tags would undermine the standard format of the DDEX standards. There are, however, allowed value lists (also known as, code lists) and new terms can be added to these easily to deal with any new business development.

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