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5 Questions With: PluraVida’s Sam Gilchrist

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Photo provided by Sam Gilchrist

PluraVida is an emerging company at the forefront of the RightsTech movement for digital content distributors, focused on the need for more accurate rights and ownership tracking and payments administration. After two decades in the industry, CEO and founder Sam Gilchrist sought to fill that need with the launch of PluraVida in 2014.

In the complex ecosystem of partners and channels that digital media companies operate in, PluraVida provides platforms that allow content creators and distributors to manage things like analytics, data, and revenue settlement. In the world of movies, video, music and video games, PluraVida plays a critical role in tracking rights and ensuring fair payment to artists and rights owners.

Prior to founding PluraVida, Gilchrist was President of Tradescape, and before that, he was Chief Information Officer at The Harry Fox Agency, and held leadership positions at SoundExchange and British Telecom. Digital Media Wire had the chance to ask Sam some questions about PluraVida and about his inspirations and goals as a company founder. Check out the interview below.

Photo provided by PluraVida
Photo provided by PluraVida

1. At what point in your career did you decide that you would build PluraVida?

I think PluraVida has been in the works since the passage of the DMCA and my early days working with the RIAA when I had the privilege to help develop and deploy technology and services that would support rights related financial settlement for online webcasting, satellite radio, and cable broadcasting. While at SoundExchange, I worked with a small team of technologists to figure out how to establish the first music industry royalty management platform to manage performing artist and copyright owner income and royalties generated from these emerging models. Observing the issues related to content identification and claims then, it was clear that digital services, artists, and a variety of copyright holders would need scalable solutions to manage their rights so that they could be fairly and efficiently compensated as distribution models evolved.  The problems associated with transparency, accuracy, and scale, given the explosion of content usage, grew exponentially over the years, as did the types of services that consumers use. I saw a real need, then, for efficient, extensible and audit-friendly products that could deal with the myriad participants, rights, distribution models and statutory issues. Since then, PluraVida has worked across music, video, linear TV, social media, and high-volume demand side media buying and selling, and developing an understanding of their commercial models and contractual and statutory rights that power these platforms.

2. What problem is PluraVida addressing?

PluraVida seeks to simplify the reconciliation and financial settlement of the widest variety of digital content distribution models so that all rights holders are paid accurately.  Regardless of where you plug into the digital content supply chain – whether you are a consumer application, digital publisher, content aggregator, content creator or a rights holder – there’s some risk in admitting that you aren’t managing your rights and those of your partners. Not doing anything about managing your partners’ rights is tantamount to playing Russian roulette with the operating health of your enterprise and all of your stakeholders, given the liability of not doing so.  Digital content commerce is the same as other commercial models, except that content distribution involves an ever-changing chain of suppliers who must be compensated for the incremental value they add to the products that are sold, streamed or otherwise provided to consumers. The technology required to manage these markets is available and should be considered as critical as the amazing applications that generate the increasing demand for these products.

Photo provided by PluraVida
Photo provided by PluraVida

3. What is the Atmosphere platform by PluraVida and how important are data and analytics in the models it works on?

PluraVida Atmosphere aims to provide the enterprise with rights management and financial settlement technologies to promote a healthy and safe content-driven marketplace where consumer choice (and an intelligent dose of marketing prowess) and the resulting value created is accurately attributed and ultimately paid to the various parties entitled to compensation. The PluraVida Atmosphere platform, and the engines that power it, provide a singular view of content financial performance and content usage, giving our clients the ability to manage the full lifecycle of their relationship with their partners. This requires key applications including flexible rights management, scalable data management, and robust reporting and payment, all of which are foundational components of Atmosphere.   Therefore, data and analytics are at the center of all that we do, whether tracking consumption at the point of sale or use with our real time performance management products, automating the identification and reconciliation of what content was involved in the activity, or whether applying the correct contractual rules to the events as they are settled on our platforms.  Of course, our statements and reporting focus on information exposing what happened, how many times, when, where, in what manner, and how much was earned (or not earned) for all participants in the value chain.  In addition, data drives our one-click statement and invoice generation as well as our payment applications.

4. As a company founder, how do you manage your time?

That question could be answered in so many ways. I do everything I can to advance the goals of PluraVida and its role in digital media. My philosophy is not to burden the industry with an additional costs, but rather to empower participants to realize their goals safely and transparently and with full compensation for their commercial activities. Hence, I spend most of my time meeting the widest variety of participants in digital content so that I can fully understand their needs and make sure we are implementing the right applications that can be easily adopted.  I also manage our company’s strategic initiatives and work directly with our product development team and operations teams to make sure our clients are getting what they need.

Photo provided by PluraVida
Photo provided by PluraVida

5. What keeps you up at night?

If you asked my head of engineering, Rita Bendersky, she would say everything, given how often I call her at night to discuss our emerging business. Our approach at PluraVida has been to release products into the market that solve the problems we are addressing, while making our clients’ lives better. We adopted the More Life! service mark at the launch of the company, more as a reflection of our goals for each user of our products and services. Therefore, I spend most of my nights juxtaposing what we have done with what our clients and future clients need, so we are clear about what new features, services, and initiatives (like the upcoming RightsTech plenary) we should invest in to help the music and video markets.


Sam Gilchrist will be speaking at Digital Media Wire and Concurrent Media‘s inaugural RightsTech Summit in NYC on July 26. Purchase tickets here.

-Edward Heinrich

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