Five Points – 22

“Fact, non verba”


We publish a retrospective at the end of every year. This helps us plan, keeps us honest about how plans worked out, and allows us course correct quickly.

You can read the write ups for 20142015, and 2016.

Exploration Group is a media management and technology company headquartered in Los Angeles. Equally, wholly, and privately owned by Rene Merideth and Aaron Davis, we answer to our clients exclusively and provide them with maximum agency.

Exploration is proud to be the company of choice to compile and administer the metadata identifying much of the world’s most important media.  However, we keep who we are working with private. Our clients repeatedly report how much they appreciate this simple policy.

Our mission is to help our clients identify, organize, and distribute the data required to thoroughly protect and administer their audio and video works.  We rely on old relationships; new software; and a kind, smart, dedicated, and full-time staff of 30+ people to execute on behalf of our clients and partners.

Exploration currently represents and consults with music publishers, record labels, domestic and foreign performing rights organizations, and tv/film clients globally for digital rights at YouTube, Harry Fox (Spotify, Facebook, & others), and Music Reports Inc. (Pandora, Apple Music, Amazon, & others).

On each platform, we evaluate our client’s current efforts; augment and update their works; resolve any conflicts or problems that may arise; provide analytical analysis and reports on demand; and collect, process, and payout royalties as often as they are remitted from the platforms.   We remain flexible with our services and allow clients to pick and choose the services they need.

We charge a commission on earnings for our administration services and a flat fee for our consulting services. Our agreements are month-to-month and may be cancelled at any time.

Capsule Summary

Exploration progressed exceptionally well again in 2017.

We are very proud of the strides we made on behalf of our clients, seeing an overall gross increase of 139.57% in royalty collection.

Our business model has expanded to service several additional lines, channel management and marketing, and one-off, project oriented consulting.

We now have 30+ full time staff that are increasingly becoming more specialized in their tasks.  And we are very fortunate and proud to offer all them full premium health, dental and eye insurance, gym memberships, monthly book of their choice, monthly team dinners, and weekly awards that incentivize them helping one another.

Our business remains in the black and we continue to save a significant portion of our profits each month.

All of the above helps us put our interest squarely where it belongs – toward our clients.

Our Clients

You cannot rest on your laurels in this world. Folks will not tolerate it.

Our clients’ expectations are never static – they go up. It’s human nature. People have an insatiable appetite for a better way, and yesterday’s ‘wow’ quickly becomes today’s ‘ordinary’. And I see this increase in expectations, the demand for excellence, as a result of the expertise one needs to do business in 2018.  In any given month from a multitude of sources, clients are made aware of yet another settlement portal, a new platform needing to be collected from, an additional metadata point being reported as mandatory, and more. These examples are from our publishing vertical, but I assure you the same phenomenon is happening broadly across everything we do at Exploration.

How do you stay ahead of ever-rising customer expectations? There’s no single way to do it – it’s a combination of many things. But prioritization, high standards, and working together are certainly a big part of it.

Prioritize and Execute

First, prioritization comes as a result of learning from our stakeholders – our clients – what is most important to them.  Be it maximum royalty collection, cleanliness of data, or speed in handling the inevitable ownership conflict…or all three and more – we use this knowledge as directive for what to get busy working on.

Secondly, before starting any work day, our staff connect with each other to identify what has transpired since they last logged out, to make sure that the tasks ahead are exactly the ones that will bring us closer meeting the expectations of clients.

This constant reflection on what to work on first, then settling in to really get after it, has proven to be a materially valuable effort.  We will continue to refine and hone this skill.

High Standards

The room for error when handling others’ privacy, property, and money is profoundly low.  So is the tolerance by platforms for making mistakes, as they too are held accountable by interested parties that are affected.

For this reason, we commit to several practices that allow us to embody and retain relentlessly high standards.

  • We hire only those people that have proven themselves to have the utmost integrity, intelligence, and drive.
  • We promote from within.
  • We specialize.
  • We train.  And we train.  And we train some more. (i.e. all staff are YouTube certified in multiple areas)
  • We deliver the raw platform data to our clients when remitting royalties and invoices.
  • We teach via publicly published guides that are domain specific.

Cover and Move

Rene and I learned this concept from the rugby field – as an aside, that is where we originally met – she was a photographer for one of the teams I was playing on.  Over a cold, adult beverage one evening she began to share with me the challenges of administering publishing rights in the digital world. I was keen to make a career change.  And as they say, the rest is history.

Rugby is the epitome of a team sport.  You can not go at it alone. The rules and fundementals of the game do not allow it.  You must take someone with you.  Support, as it were, means that you hunt in packs on defense and you have mates behind and adjacent to you on attack (offense).  This foundational principle is repeatedly practiced at even the highest levels and for good reason – it works.

Old habits die hard.  We brought the idea over from the pitch and have woven it into our company’s DNA.  And it works.

First, we closely work together with our clients and partners, at a scope that they mandate.  For some, just knowing we are available on demand to handle anything they need is sufficient. While for others we meet weekly or monthly, provide proactive reports of all completed work, and visit their offices to work in concert with their staff.

Secondly, we collaborate via shared databases with works co-owners, competitors, and platform partners.  This allows us collectively to mitigate double work, which results in more efficient resolution and ultimately, royalty distribution.

Finally, we work extremely hard to make sure we, as individuals, are working with each other within our organization. We have very high expectations of ourselves, much higher than those imposed upon us from outside forces, which contributes to considerable pressure.  We learned the hard way last year that, if not paid attention to and actively addressed, this can cause unhealthy competition amongst teammates.  We have a variety of systems in place now that make working together easier, but the one that has been most fruitful is to incentivize actually helping each other.  Staff members are given an opportunity to share with the larger team how a co-worker really went out of their way to help with the greater effort…it’s quite remarkable what happens when folks get competitive about helping each other.

Benefits of Prioritization, High Standards, and Working Together

Building a culture that puts task prioritization, extremely high standards, and collaborative effort as paramount is well worth it.   Most noticeably, we are able to accomplish what is expected of us from a most discerning clientele. It also helps with recruiting and retention, as talented and highly skilled people are drawn to this culture. More subtly, a culture of this calibre protects all the “invisible” but critical work that gets done when no one is watching. It’s part of what it means to be a professional and it helps to insure that we will continue to be able to execute on this level for a long time.

Recent Milestones

The culture we have demanded of ourselves and strive for has served us well.  We’re extremely proud to share some of the milestones we hit last year. We take none of them for granted

Ingest and Claims

Asset ingests, manual claims, and potential claims resulted in a total of approximately 3 million assets having ownership asserted, which have claimed in excess of 44 million videos, resulting in over 45 billion views.

Conflicts Resolutions

We resolved 13,246 conflicts, unlocking royalty distribution for our clients, co-owners, and our competitors on approximately 219 million daily views.


We increased the Year over Year Ad Performance Revenue by 139.57%.

Catalog Data

Most of our clients report that the data we have compiled on their behalf is now the authoritative record of their intellectual property.

Path Ahead

This year marks the 4th anniversary of our first annual report, and the principles and fundamentals that drive us remain unchanged.  We continue to aspire to be the very best at what we do, expect more from ourselves them anyone else ever could, and recognize with acute clarity that the work has only begun.  The magnitude of the challenges ahead are not lost on us. In fact, it is what drives us.

A huge thank you to all of our clients for the trust to be the guardian of your intellectual property, to the platforms that allow us to work within their systems, and to our kind, smart, and dedicated staff.

We look forward to the future.

Facta, non verba.

Kind regards,

Rene Merideth and Aaron Davis

Who is Exploration?

Exploration is proud to be the company of choice to administer much of the world’s most important media. We rely on old relationships; new software; and a kind, smart, dedicated, and full-time staff of 30+ people to execute on behalf of our clients and partners.

We’re writing a free book on how the music business works. Learn more here.

The catalog metadata template offers the minimum viable data needed to collect digital royalties.  Download the .csv file here.

Please feel free to reach out anytime if you have any questions or ideas!

Hope you have a great weekend!

[email protected]

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171 Pier Ave., #251
Santa Monica, CA 90405

Five Points – 21

Marijuana Legalization – 

The legalization of marijuana seems to be speeding into the national consciousness and onto ballots in the United States.

One of the last people I expected to embrace this sea change is Mitch McConnell – Senate Majority Leader (Republican – Kentucky).  Last week he introduced a bill to remove hemp from the controlled substances list.

Also last week, former Speaker of the House, John Boehner (Republican – Ohio), joined the advisory board of Acreage Holdings, a company that cultivates, processes and dispenses cannabis in 11 U.S. states.

And finally, today, 4/20/2018, Chuck Schumer – Senate Minority Leader (Democrat – New York), plans to introduce legislation to decriminalize marijuana on the federal level.

More food for thought:


There is an interesting facet to this movement that I can’t seem to find data on though…

Proponents of marijuana legalization often say “Why don’t they just tax it?”…and on the surface, that seems to be a legitimate rhetorical question; there is much tax revenue to be collected, as Colorado can attest.

But I posit that it already is, in favor of illegality, predominantly at the expense, of young black men.

I think of all the jobs and budgets and systems that are predicated on the fact marijuana is illegal.  The lawyers and judges and prisons and police…omg the police department budgets…that all go bye bye the moment marijuana is legalized.  Which is, in large part, why it was deemed illegal in the 1930’s: TL;DR: at the end of prohibition, the huge government agency tasked with keeping the bottle out of people’s hands needed a new crusade.

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” ~ Upton Sinclair


For those following the movement, one may also notice the lack of use of the word ‘Marijuana’, being replaced by ‘Cannabis’, which is pure marketing.  The former has a negative connotation and the latter has been associated with medicine.  Makes enough sense.

The thought leaders here may also consider the appearance of the advocates, often being dreadlock wielding, reggae listening, bare foot dancing hippies.  This doesn’t bode well for the Bible belt, Wall Street, and generally, the Right.

A lesson from the civil rights movement in the United States suggests how you look is everything:


Time will tell how our culture embraces the shift in jobs, as a result of the move from illegal to legal, but it is a good thing the shift is taking place.  The medical benefits, the opiate pandemic, the tax revenue, the stigma, …let’s not mince words: the fact more people smoke than do not.

It should be legal.

Enjoy your 4/20!

Momento Mori –

I believe it to be good practice to reflect on the fact we all will die.  It helps to prioritize things.

This interesting article breaks down a lifetime of 90 years into different segments…days…winters…

and this famous speech segment from Steve Jobs

Two other Pulitzer Prize finalists on losing to Kendrick Lamar –

Humility is a virtue.

The search for the next billion $ color – Red –

I’m very color blind, so I found this article fascinating and obscure:

What’s on the radio – 

I find the hang aka hand pan to be so relaxing and meditative.

Hang Massive – Once Again – 2011 –

Five Points – 20

The Jupiter poles – 

What sort of hellish madness has the Juno space craft photographed on the poles of Jupiter? is Hiring  – 

Friends doing awesome stuff alert!

Celeste LeCompte is the Vice President of Business Development at ProPublica.  She’s also a thoughtful, kind, and profoundly bright.  And working with her would be awesome.

From her solicitation:

Would you like to work with me at ProPublica? Because now is your chance. We’re hiring a bunch of reporters, editors, technologists, HR, legal, and more. PLEASE APPLY and SEND ME YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS.

You should be excited about the mission of this place: My colleagues in the newsroom tell stories with *moral force* which is an incredibly badass thing to align yourself with. On the business side, we make sure they have the resources and tools to do that work, and I want all of our new hires to LOVE it.

Bring your special self to the job: We need people with hard skills for the job, and we also need you to bring your insights and judgement. We want diverse candidates from all backgrounds because hiring you – yes, you – makes us better, smarter, more resilient as an organization.

Be quick on the draw: We have big plans and big dreams for 2018 and beyond, and we want to meet you IMMEDIATELY. Apply NOW. If you have questions, EMAIL us. We always give you a contact email for a job, so don’t be afraid to use it. I rarely check messenger, but you can email me at my work address if you have questions: [email protected]

Google I/O – Exploring Augmented Reality Interaction – 
Wed. May 9, 3:30PM – 4:30PM – Stage 7 – Beginner

Friends doing awesome stuff alert!

Chris Kelley is a design lead in AR/VR prototyping at Google and is speaking on this panel.

CK and a couple other good boys first put me up when I arrived in LA 15 years ago.  We have been through so much together over the years… we scrummed down together on the footie pitch to pocket a couple national titles, roomed in a crummy flat in Venice Beach, noodled a fair number of good and bad business ideas, and lit out across the earth in search of adventure more than once. He’s since married a lovely gal, has beautiful new daughter, moved to SF, and landed at Google.  And for my friends in the Bay curious about AR @ Google, feel free to ping me to connect with him.  He truly is a wonderful and brilliant person and is an expert in the field.  I consider him one of my very best friends and most trusted advisors.

And if you find yourself at Google I/O this year, do go listen to him speak and heckle him.  It’s fine if you blame me.

Nomad List – 

I’m fortunate that I’m able to travel quite a bit, sometimes for longer stints, for work.  This site is so easy and valuable if you’re planning on staying more than a week or two some where and need to keep working.

Nomad List is the biggest crowdsourced database of cities in the world analyzing 250,000+ data points to help you choose where to go next — and when you arrive, it connects you with 49,738+ 🌍 nomads there.

What’s on the radio – 

A couple popular newish tracks that I’ve had on repeat thee past days..

Again – Fetty Wap –

Congratulations – Post Malone – 

Five Points – 19

J-O-B – 

I get asked about jobs pretty often…editing a resume, who’s hiring, what one might want to consider in order to put their best foot forward, what industry to pursue, how to negotiate a salary or what to charge as a freelancer…pretty much the gamut of getting a solid gig.

I find this relatively amusing, as I believe myself to be quite unemployable, as many will confirm and is part of why I have always worked for myself.  But I digress…

I have a few resources I always point folks toward and the universe recently conspired to drop a few more, diverse tools and tricks on me all at once.

So, that’s what today’s 5 Points is all about.  Getting a J-O-B.

Linkedin Career Advice – 

My good friend and ever fabulous, Bonnie Muffington*, works at Linkedin and she turned me on a not-so-publicized resource for asking folks in a particular field for free advice.  This really is worth so much…these people…no, experts…have proactively made themselves available for someone just like you to ask for guidance and mentorship on how to win at getting a J-O-B in their industry.  

Resume Cheat Sheet – 

How to answer the most common interview questions – 

Looking, sounding, and being more confident – 

Salary and Fee Negotiation – 

It’s been reported that many millions of additional $$$ has been commanded as a direct result of this guide.  It’s value can not be understated.

Sprezzatura – 

There’s an Italian word for making everything you do seem effortless – sprezzatura.

Cultivate it.  Embody it.  Be it.

You deserve that job and more.  You know it to be true.  Should those folks that have the power decide to pass on your expertise, it’s their loss – water off a duck’s back – on to the next.

Good luck!