A novel e-platform that has transformed a traditional sheet music business into a global digital enterprise.
Submitting InstitutionLondon South Bank University
Unit of AssessmentBusiness and Management Studies
Summary Impact TypeEconomic
Research Subject Area(s)
Information and Computing Sciences: Artificial Intelligence and Image Processing, Computer Software, Information Systems
Summary of the impact
This case study demonstrates how research into Object Orientated
programming has resulted in a feature-rich e-commerce platform that has
transformed the management and operations of a traditional sheet music
company (Faber Music) and its expanding business partner network.
- Adoption of an efficient electronic enterprise and distribution model
that provides global reach at significantly lower costs;
- Creation of a new income stream for the Company (£40k year 1, rising
to £260k year 3 and growing) based upon digital distribution;
- A novel e-partner scheme delivering benefits through access to a wider
range of digital content and routes to market;
- Mitigation of media piracy by being able to minimise the price
differential as seen by the purchaser;
- Recovery of $1million from an illegal download site in Russia who are
now an e-partner.
In a competitive global market, businesses must be agile and respond to
changes and new ideas. Business functions, processes, data and systems
must be accessible, integrated and supported by well-designed information
infrastructure. This necessitates a robust information systems strategy
that maps the business needs and is adaptable to future needs.
In the 1990s, Object-Oriented (OO) programming was a novel and emerging
approach with potential to address and solve a range of business data
management problems and challenges.
This impact case study is underpinned by research in OO carried out at
London South Bank University (LSBU) during 1996-2003 by Dilip Patel
(Principal Lecturer) and Shushma Patel (Senior Lecturer). The former was
recognised as one of the 50 world leading exponents of Object Oriented
(OO) technology at the time . As well as being the founder of the first
International Conference in Object-Oriented Information Systems (OOIS), he
materially contributed to the industry-led Accredited Standards Committee
(X3H7) and the Object Management Group (OMG) Business Object Domain Task
A generic Object Oriented (OO) organisational and enterprise modelling
approach was proposed by LSBU to support the implementation of integrated
business objects. A business object model was defined and tested for
British Telecommunications that can be reused as a pluggable component in
OO enterprise systems architecture. The research explored software
development from a framework perspective without having to develop systems
from scratch. A customer business object model was developed to illustrate
how generic business objects can be reused in different industries, with
minimum change to the underlying software.
The use of OO was shown [2-4] to be effective in integrating and
accessing legacy systems via the emerging web technologies, allowing
organisations to fully integrate data, information and systems with that
of stakeholders and third parties. LSBU's research explored the use of 3-d
information visualisation using standard component-based OO analysis. The
integration of OO technology with artificial neural networks also
supported the intelligent interrogation of on-line documents. Simple
keyword queries result in tens of thousands of hits, however, LSBU's
research demonstrated how documents in a corpus can be searched according
to semantic content, resulting in more relevant search results.
The research resulted in the development of a Generic Reusable Business
Object Model (GRBOM) framework. The framework was demonstrated to be
applicable to different industry sectors in supporting various
organisation and change dimensions, such as strategy and policies,
operations, people, markets and products, technology, legislation and
regulation, in addition to reuse, genericity, pattern and business object
modelling. The reuse, pattern and business object modelling dimensions
provide appropriate tools for the initiation and development of systems
Outputs from the research has led to:
- The development of a library of reusable objects for use in generic
- The building and use of enterprise architectures based upon GRBOM;
- Successful trials of GRBOM with British Telecom;
- The development of a roadmap to support the integration of business
Although the framework was developed 15 years ago, the platform
technology and the tools are just as applicable in the business
environment of today. It is flexible and extendable with wide ranging
implications for addressing business issues and opportunities to eradicate
References to the research
1. Hanley D and Schleifer P (1998). Who's Who in Object Technology.
Zamir, Saba (Editor). In Handbook of Object Technology. CRC Press
2. Hanley D and Patel S. (1996). A 3d-visualisation system for large WWW
based document collections. Patel D, Sun Y and Patel, S. (Editors). Proceedings
of the 3rd International Conference on Object Oriented Information
Systems (OOIS'96). Springer-Verlag, London.
3. Choudhury I, Sun Y and Patel D (1997). Generic Reusable Business
Object Modelling - A Framework and its Application in British
Telecommunications plc. Orlowska, Maria E. and Zicari, Roberto (Editors).
Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Object Oriented
Information Systems (OOIS'97). Springer-Verlag, London
4. Hung K and Patel D (1998) Modelling Domain Specific Application
Frameworks with a Dynamic Business Object Architectures: An Approach and
Implementation. Proceedings of the Object Oriented Programming Systems,
Languages, and, Applications (OOPSLA'96, 97 & 98). Workshop on
"Business object design and implementation". Patel D, Sutherland J and
Miller J (Editors). London.
5. Patel D and Patel S. (2003). The Cognitive Process of Problem Solving:
A Business Perspective. International Journal of Brain and Mind, 4(2),
Details of the impact
This case study provides an illustration of how research has resulted in
a feature rich e-commerce platform delivering organisational and economic
impacts to a world leading publisher, Faber Music Ltd (FM). Founded by
Benjamin Britten in 1965, FM is a publisher and rights owner of classical,
contemporary and educational music as well as representing authors,
artists, and composers.
In 2008, FM recognised the need to embrace the latest digital and web
based technologies to improve operational and business performance and to
extend its product offering and deliver novel services [1,2]. Through the
proactive endeavours of the University's Knowledge Transfer Centre, a KTP
partnership (KTP007073, £128K; 2008-11 [2,3]) was established in 2008 to
develop and implement a collaborative digital platform based upon LSBU's
OO research and expertise to meet the defined developmental and commercial
objectives of FM. The KTP had to accommodate and meet the challenges
presented by the changing business and technological environment and to be
future proof. Key challenges for the KTP were to deliver web-based
solutions that: (i) enable digital rights management, (ii) tracking of and
managing rights and royalties payments, (iii) territorial copyrights, (iv)
managing exchange and tax rates and (v) manage payments to e-partners.
Overall, these areas represent millions of independent transactions, since
the sale of a £2 sheet music score on average involves 6 independent
Independent Consultants established in an interview (2013) with the
Digital Director at FM, "that we needed to provide a much-needed
platform through which third-party musicians could license their
arrangements via digital channels. As no such system existed, this
innovation would remove the hassle associated with licensing for digital
sheet music" [1, 2].
The resulting e-commerce platform, developed through the KTP
collaboration, was deployed in 2009 by FM. This has had significant impact
on FM's business [1,2]. It has:
- Created a new revenue stream £40K in 2008/9, rising to £260K in
2011/12 and is budgeted to produce £400K in 2013/14 and increase
exponentially thereafter, with increased profitability;
- Led to the creation of a new post within FM, that of Digital Director.
- "Given us an electronic distribution model that gives us wider
reach and a lower cost of distribution" as a result of not needing
to produce and store physical materials;
- "Put us in a stronger cash positive position as people pay on
download and copyright owners get paid quarterly, improving our
- Identified and reduced illegal (intentional and unintentional)
- "Provided us with a mechanism to obtain and exploit market trends
and understand our partners and customer needs better";
- Increased directly and indirectly FM's customer base and international
- Created an e-Partners scheme linking other related businesses and
customers to FM .
The Digital Director in June 2013 commented in relation to e-business and
the collaboration with LSBU: "it is fair to say that we were out of
touch with our contemporaries, now we are cutting edge" [1,2].
She has also stated that: "What we now have, as a direct result of the
KTP project, is a highly effective e-Partners scheme; we have 45
partners on our e-partner scheme, of which 35 are new business partners
for Faber". The novel e-partners scheme allows other rights owners
(artists, radio stations and exam boards) to arrange and deliver content
via a formal association with FM worldwide.
The reach of the e-Partner scheme, the first of its kind in this market
sector, is illustrated by FM's new and enhanced links with :
Marketing partnerships: for example, with bands (Queen, Elbow);
theatre (Love Story, Sister Act); music forums (Music Radar, Cleartabs);
Radio Stations (Classic FM); Music Apps (Guitar Buddy); Composers (Carl
Davis) and Warner/Chappell Music, which provide FM and its partners with
a more extensive digital library for distribution and retail ;
Sheet music publishers: for example, Boosey and Hawkes is the
largest specialist classical music publishing company in the world. The
e-partners scheme provided their first digital content distribution and
Music Arrangers: for example, PDF Brass  a one man business,
involved in composing, arranging and distribution of music joined as an
e-partner in 2009, since which its revenues and reach have increased 10
fold. The proprietor acknowledged that bands are known to create
cohesion in small communities such as in Africa, and is a mechanism for
social inclusion and prosperity;
Education Music Services: Sing Up , a national competition
set up under the last Labour Government, has, as a result of its link
with FM's e-partner scheme, been able to acquire and distribute digital
music and teacher notes to over 90% of the 20,000+ English infant
schools. A representative of Sing Up indicated that this would not have
been possible without being an e-Partner. Singing is known to improve:
(i) numeracy and literacy, (ii) increase IQ by an average of 7 points;
(iii) increase pupil concentration; (iv) promote self- confidence, and
(v) improve social skills [7,8];
Music Shops: Chappell of Bond Street was the first e-partner to
use their own e-commerce platform for a seamless integration of two
platforms to enable customers to purchase content from all e-partners
The platform has allowed FM and its e-partners to mitigate media piracy
by eliminating price differential, as seen by the purchaser, but
delivering original, quality products (correct arrangements and lyrics)
and legal ownership.
"The project has gained external recognition from the public, our
customers, our competitors and the industry," says the Digital
Director. "Faber is really pushing the boundaries when it comes to
digital exploitation" [1,2].
An unforeseen but significant benefit resulting from the research has
been to allow (via the KTP) FM to challenge illegal download websites .
The significant outcome of this is that FM has negotiated a $1million
revenue payment from an illegal download site [1,2].
Sources to corroborate the impact
 Report of Independent Consultants (The Innovation Partnership), 2013.
Contact Managing Director, The Innovation Partnership. — covers LSBU
contribution to the development of the e-platform and to the resulting
growth and success of Faber Music.
 Contact: Digital Director, Faber Music Ltd.
 KTP007073 Final Report with Faber Music Ltd — available on request
 The Innovation Partnership Interview with proprietor of PDF Brass.
Contact: Managing Director, The Innovation Partnership
 The Innovation Partnership Interview with Sing Up. Contact: Managing
Director, The Innovation Partnership