Societies and publishers complete global project to harmonise data reporting for music in commercials

CISAC and SPF logos

September 22nd, 2021 - Music authors societies and publishers have completed a global project to harmonise the reporting of data for musical works used in commercials. The initiative will make the matching of music works for use in commercials more accurate and reliable, and will improve the efficiency of royalty distributions internationally.

The project has been implemented in a collaboration between CISAC, representing authors societies worldwide, and music publishers and producers through the Society Publisher Forum (SPF). This is the latest such partnership within the SPF and it comes as part of a broader set of industry recommendations for practice in identifying music works.

Ensuring that music used in commercials is correctly identified and remunerated is a challenge for creators, societies, and publishers. With many parties involved in the life cycle of the commercial, working across national borders, the metadata used can often be lost. Differing reporting formats and languages can also hinder the flow of information, to the detriment of music creators.

With the new internationally harmonised system, a new standardised template, the Music in Commercials Sheet has been created. It is designed to be used worldwide by TV and radio broadcasters, Collective Management Organisations, publishers and individual composers and songwriters.

The Music in Commercial Sheet conveys two key sets of information:

  • A ‘Submission’ form – containing the information available to publishers as agreed in the synch license or commissioning agreement. This should be submitted at the earliest opportunity.
  • A ‘Cue Sheet’ – containing the additional information and all relevant music details together with usage information where available.

The Music in Commercial sheet forms part of a wider set of recommendations for the industry, which include:

  1. Use of a standardised template  i.e. the Commercial Music in Commercial Sheet
  2. Circulation of key identifiers; the ISWC and Ad ID/clock number (or territorial equivalent)
  3. Use of music recognition technology for commercials
  4. Best Practice principles for Publishers
  5. Best Practice principles for Societies
  6. Circulation of unidentified commercials (UC) lists to Societies and Rights Holders



I am delighted that CISAC and the Society Publisher Forum have once again come together to provide a new global tool that supports efficient collections and distributions. The new cue-sheet format for music in commercials better identifies creators’ music as it is used, and, as a result, ensures composers and songwriters are remunerated faster. We will now join with our members to promote the new format to partners throughout the global CMO community and wider industry.

Gadi Oron, CISAC Director General

This achievement by the Society Publisher Forum and its Working Group is another excellent advance for the music industry. The standardised cue sheet tailored specifically for music broadcast in commercials and ads means another rising royalty tide for everyone in the sector.  Metadata is the alphabet of music. This cue sheet makes that alphabet legible, comprehensible and transferable for composers, publishers, users, broadcasters, administrators no matter where they are based. ICMP applauds all at the SPF for their work and extends its full support to the implementation of this project globally.

John Phelan, ICMP Director General

This is an area where tracking and reporting after synchronisation has historically been tough for broadcaster, publishers and societies.  I’m delighted that the Working Group have come to this first step solution to, which like the standard for Cue Sheets, establishes a common language for our communication of this vital data, and has been carefully designed to complement the increasing use of Music (/Content) Recognition Technologies. The hard work of the whole Working Group and the wider SPF family addressing this tricky topic continues and I wish to express my thanks to them for this success and their ongoing efforts.”

Alex Batterbee, SPF CO-Chair (Sony Music Publishing)

The Music in Commercial initiative is extremely important topic for all music community. The Music in Commercials is Working Group has done a terrific jog over the past year consolidating information about how societies and publishers can work together to increase the revenue from this important source. It is not only a technical work to create format to maximize and facilitate the flow of information, but also to map opportunities that will be very beneficial to all music creators.

Gustavo Gonzalez , SPF Co-Chair (ABRAMUS)

The standardization of the fundamental data required for commercial registrations across all CMOs, and a common format for reporting the data, has been a long time coming.  The initial steps have been completed to accommodate the transfer of commercial information required by CMOs for proper distribution of royalties collected for the rights holders.  As part of the ICMP/CISAC MIC Working Group, I can tell you we are beyond delight to be able to release this new commercial cue sheet format for use by rights holders and others who provide commercial data content to CMOs.  The Working Group is now moving on to creating other report formats….more great news to come!

Dee Hale, Working Group Co-Lead (Sony Music Publishing)

The goal of the ‘Commercial Sheet’ is to improve the global distribution of royalties for music used in commercials. Standardising the exchange of commercial data should increase accuracy and efficiency and help to minimize the level of manual research required in processing commercials.  The document will be a means for Publishers, third parties and Societies to circulate specific information on a commercial campaign and the music used within the campaign. The expectation is that the Commercial Sheet will lead to better identification of music used in commercial campaigns as it provides a place to capture key information such as the ISWC Number and Commercial ID.

Tim Carmichael, WG Co-lead (PRS)

This international standardisation effort is a good example of the work we do together at the Society Publisher Forum, which IMPF is very pleased to support. Making sure that music used in advertising is correctly identified beyond borders with this new template will obviously be very helpful for our community of independent publishers and songwriters globally.
Thomas Jamois, IMPF Board and IMPF lead to SPF