Berlin music technology developer Future Audio Workshop has been working on a new track ID system that can be implemented in nightclubs. FAW claims the system should eventually make it more easier for rights organizations to see what DJs are playing in clubs.

The product is called GTI (Geo Track ID) and what it does is take a fingerprint of the tracks being played through the sound system in clubs. The collected data will eventually be sent to and used by rights organizations like GEMA in Germany or Buma in the Netherlands who in turn will use it to gather the royalties for the tracks and distribute it to the authors.

GTI might be a game-changer in the royalties system. Until now, it was extremely difficult to exactly pinpoint which tracks are being played at which events. Instead, many rights organizations have used extrapolation-algorithms to decide who gets paid what. This system is said to be inaccurate, and supposedly works in favour of already commercially successful, mainstream artists who are higher priority members of the rights organizations than underground artists. Quick example: for an event in an underground club where independant artists are playing, a part of the fee that rights organizations receive from that club goes to mainstream artists that have never set foot in that club, nor have their tracks ever come out of the speakers during any event in that venue. For a more in-depth look on how things work in Germany with GEMA and the critique from their opponents, check out this piece.

With the new technology things might be controlled more accurately than they are now. The system is really nothing more than a black box —”compact, robust, tamper-resistant, low-cost” Future Audio Workshop have described it—that hooks into the soundsystem and continuously analyzes the music that’s played. GTI is beatmatch proof, which means it can still recognize a track even when it’s played out of the original key after pitching the track up or down. Much of GTI’s library of fingerprints comes from Juno, which contains vinyl-only releases in addition to its digital catalog; label owners and artists are also able to submit music to the database directly online. Future Audio Workshop say they’ve clocked the success rate of accurate fingerprinting at 90 percent.

GTI developers Gavin Burke and Martin Gould have claimed the product is ready for testing. Berlin club Prince Charles have the honours of being the club that may test the GTI. Burke said the test has been positive so far, and the club is enthusiastic about the system.

We from Prince Charles are happy to be the first ones to set up the GTI box,” said Norman Methner, the club’s booker and A&R rep, “The effort that’s been put in this little box will hopefully get a more fair share of money to the people who actually produce the music that we like to listen to in our and many other clubs.” We will keep a close watch on this interesting development to see if GTI can in fact create a more balanced royalties payment system.