You've found it – the perfect gift! As you plunk down your money for that Elvis Collectible Cookie Jar – the one with the figurine of the King leaning against his Harley – you smile, satisfied that your long search is over.
You call it day and head home, not realizing that your purchase has become part of a dynamic accounting and reporting exchange between the manufacturer of the cookie jar – the licensee – and the two licensors: Elvis Presley Enterprises and the Harley Davidson Motor Company.
Determining the royalty payments generated by your cookie jar purchase requires an amazingly complex calculation – one that must reconcile every parameter of the contract between licensors, agents, and licensees. Of course, yours was just one tiny transaction among millions involving these licensed merchandising giants. Harley Davidson generates about $150 million in annual sales of branded merchandise. And while Elvis may have left the building, the King of Rock keeps on rolling-in the dough through a worldwide merchandising blitz involving more than 100 licensees.
To keep it straight, both companies rely on software from the world's leading source of contract management and royalty accounting solutions: Counterpoint Systems, Inc.
The Counterpoint Success Story
Founded in 1987 by Robert Katovsky and headquartered in London, Counterpoint was a pioneer in providing rights and royalty management software for music publishers and record companies. Their Maestro range of products continues to lead the music industry today – and its success led Counterpoint to expand with Movie Maestro, a special application for the film industry.
Counterpoint consolidated its lead in recent years by acquiring two other companies: TL Creates – makers of the Pelican ProFiles line of contract management software for the booming brand licensing industry; and fresh ground software – a producer of search engines for publishers who are putting their catalogs on the Web.
Today, Counterpoint solutions are setting the world standard for rights management, royalty collection and distribution, and online and desktop catalog systems.• Their client roster includes a who's who list of household names in the entertainment and brand licensing industries, such as: 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, MTV, Nickelodeon, M&M Mars, NASCAR, the National Hockey League, and the Major League Baseball Players Association.
• Counterpoint has captured 30% of the market for rights management solutions among the top 100 licensors in the world. Their closest competitor has only 7% of that market.
• Over 1,500 Counterpoint systems are operating in 42 countries – and the numbers keep growing.
Revelation Software Makes It Happen
From the beginning, and through all the growth and expansion, every Pelican ProFiles product has been written using Revelation's portfolio of application development tools.
Greg Helland, Executive Vice President at Counterpoint, says Revelation is the only choice. Helland has worked with Revelation products since 1982, and used them to create the Pelican ProFiles brand licensing software acquired by Counterpoint in 1999.
"Revelation has been our choice for developing our products from the beginning, mainly because of its flexibility and its robust nature," Helland explained. "It's extremely friendly and allows for very quick development compared to a lot of other languages. And having the multi-valued environment gives you a huge advantage over the ODBC compliant databases. It just works a heck of a lot better than everything else."
Multi-Valued Data Works Smarter – Not Harder
Helland gave an example of how important OpenInsight's multi-value capability is in the functioning of Counterpoint software solutions. "When you're talking about royalty calculations, you're talking about an extremely complex algorithm," he said.
"There are about 8,000 different combinations of royalties you can put on a contract. You can have escalating rates, de-escalating rates, rates by year, by price range, rates based on units or sales, or an if/then rate – for example, it's 10% of sales or 75¢ a unit, whichever is greater or whichever is less. It can change from year to year, or from renewal to renewal. It might be based upon a certain channel of distribution, or a certain territory, or a specific property. And then you have to combine that with how you determine any guarantees, and how the royalties earned in any given period accrue against the guarantee, or whether they go into what's called overage.
"So, you start adding these layers of data that allow you to function properly within the world of licensing," Helland continued, "and it gets very, very complex. We've seen royalty rate schedules that exceed 180 lines of data to figure out how to do something. And if you look at the entire database, there are over 10,000 fields of data that we're working with. That's huge."
And royalty calculations are just one component. Virtually every aspect of a licensing contract can be tracked and managed with Counterpoint solutions. And using Counterpoint, every party to a contract can exchange data and create reports.
Revelation for Future Growth
As Counterpoint continues to expand and they look to the future, Helland says Revelation is still their clear choice.
"We haven't really found anything that offers such a complete package," he said. "With Revelation, we get one package that's got a development language, a database, reporting facilities, communication capabilities, integration to the Windows API – all in one place.
"Whereas, if I go to an Oracle or a SQL Server back end, now I've got to ask 'All right –what am I going to use for the front end?' I'm going to use .Net or C# or Visual Basic, or Visual Studio, or Delphi – on and on you go. And then – 'Oh, what reporting tool am I going to use?' And there's a plethora of those. Then I need a database administrator to make sure that the database is always tuned correctly. You end up spending half your time getting everything to link up. Plus, the costs go up tremendously."
Helland says they always come to the same conclusion. "Every time we do something with Revelation’s OpenInsight – which is so integral to everything we do – we just realize how much easier it is to work with than any other environment."
So, next time you pull the lever of an Elvis slot machine, and you're hit with the realization that The King has been gone 25 years, remember – Revelation Software is still in the building.