“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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%.
Most of our clients report that the data we have compiled on their behalf is now the authoritative record of their intellectual property.
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.
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!
171 Pier Ave., #251
Santa Monica, CA 90405