JAXSTA, a global database of official music credits

jacqui louez schoorl - creator of JAXSTA

JAXSTA is a global database of official music credits, co-founded and operated by Australian Jacqui Louez Schoorl, a former film, TV and music professional. JAXSTA is helping solve the metadata challenge faced by the music industry, as it seeks to monetise streaming and the growing smart speaker market.

How did you recognise the need for JAXSTA?

Jacqui: In film and television your credit on a production is vitally important to your career trajectory. It is often how you get your next gig, and to help we have this amazing asset called IMDB.com. When I transitioned to the music industry we didn't have that kind of official resource. I watched my husband's career [musician Louis Schoorl] - he is a multi-award winning songwriter/record producer - he just wasn’t getting credited properly and neither were most of his colleagues. Yet here we are in the digital age where data drives decisions and simple information such as who played drums on a track was not available. I wanted to give credit where credit is due to the creators of music who, afterall, supply the soundtrack to our lives.

What does JAXSTA do?

Jacqui: If you think back to the days when you used to get vinyl, cassette or a CD, it came with a jacket that would tell you the producer, who recorded the song, who was the engineer, what studio the work was recorded in. In our industry that's called liner notes and label copy. JAXSTA is a play on the word ‘jacket’ because we’re building the world’s largest database of official liner notes and label copy. This information comes directly from major and independent labels, publishers and industry associations. We bring it into our system, deduplicate it, deep-link it and add other supplementary information, such as awards and chart success. The data is then fed out through a website - jaxsta.com - and also as an API data feed for digital service providers. Streaming music providers will use it to improve playlist algorithms and smart speaker manufacturers will use it to help their digital assistants answer music questions like ‘hey Siri, who played drums on this track?’ or ‘Alexa, who produced this track?’

How do you incentivise the labels to cooperate with you?

Jacqui: First and foremost, the [recorded music] industry acknowledges we have a pain-point in the serious lack of good metadata. It's really important for the success of their artists they have accurate information out there, whether it's their artist’s contribution to a release, a photo, or a bio they spend a considerable time and money investing in ‘artists and repertoire’ [A&R] assets.  Second, we have created a brand new revenue stream for the industry that we are pretty sure hasn't existed before.

How does JAXSTA participate in the new world of smart speakers?

Jacqui: I’m really excited by smart speakers. Presently, 63 percent of all requests to smart speakers are about music [including requests to play music]. People could ask ‘hey Google, who was the songwriter on this track?’, and then create a playlist of all of that writer’s music, regardless of who sang it. Previously that couldn’t be done because the recordings were siloed projects. But nobody in the music industry works in isolation; there is a team of people around you -  producers, engineers, songwriters, other musicians. Then there are managers, publicists, artists and repertoire; there are so many people involved. It takes on average 250 individuals to touch a release, to get it to market. When you can know who those people are, what they have worked on and who else they have worked with, that is exciting. 

'It takes on average 250 individuals to touch a release, to get it to market. When you can know who those people are, what they have worked on and who else they have worked with, that is exciting.'

Jacqui Louez Schoorl, JAXSTA
There is a desire for greater trust and transparency in the music industry (as there is in the whole of entertainment and media). How do services like JAXSTA assist this goal?

Jacqui: Let's imagine we are looking up an artist like Imogen Heap. You now have the ability to see everything she has done individually as an artist, then all the people she has worked with as a songwriter and as a producer, and her awards and nominations. You can't diminish the importance of that in our business, in any creative business. Credit where credit's due creates trust and it's also providing transparency. There are a lot of people who like to claim they’ve worked on things. With JAXSTA, you won't really be able to do that. You were either on the project or you weren't. And if you were on the project and you should have been credited, then you will be able to let us know and we contact the necessary people and help get it fixed. But it means there is not as much wiggle room for people to claim they worked on something just to inflate their own credit. 

What’s important for the Australian music industry to keep in mind over the next five years?

Jacqui: We are in the midst of a technical revolution -  AI (Artificial Intelligence), blockchain and other technologies like smart speakers - the way they have exploded since Christmas is staggering and exciting and daunting. You can have an AI that creates music, but songs? How does an AI know how to tell the story about two humans who have just broken up and out of that break up comes a heart wrenching song? We’ve got to stay in front of the technology wave but we can’t lose that human element of what we do. Everybody is fluent in two languages, their native tongue and music. The music side is speaking to our soul and its created by souls in a room making music, you’ll never be able to get rid of that. Making sure we keep it human is very important.