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It’s no secret that the music industry is plagued with data problems. Incorrect and badly handled metadata is leaving billions on the table (the value of black box royalties is estimated to be $2.5 billion) and whilst this may seem like an issue that only concerns labels, publishers and other industry organizations, it’s more important than ever for artists and songwriters to understand the value of accurate data.
We’re in an era where self-empowered artists are able to do things on their terms, but whether that means working with a label, self-releasing, or working with a next-generation company like CD Baby or AWAL, metadata is at the center of everything. It is the foundation of the modern digital music industry.
The focus of this article is going to be objective metadata because that’s the most important data to focus on as an artist if you want to get your music distributed or licensed and, of course, if you want to get paid properly.▼ Article continues below ▼
One of the biggest contributors to the music industry’s data problem is the fact that objective data is often entered incorrectly at the source, during the writing and recording process. This puts writers and artists in a powerful position as they have the ability to get all of their data entered correctly from the start with the right tools and knowledge in place.
There are various tools that can help embed metadata into music files as they are created, including Creator Credits from Session (formerly Auddly), a technology that works within Pro Tools to embed song credits within the session files themselves.
There are also a number of free audio tagging tools out there including Kid3, MP3Tag, MusicBrainz Picard as well as software media players and music library managers like MediaMonkey where you can embed metadata into your files.
At the very least you should also be keeping your own metadata database in a spreadsheet which contains each track along with its associated metadata. For more sophisticated track and catalog management you can try platforms like:
DSPs, distributors and data services all have metadata submission standards that have to be met. Apple Music is respected as the industry standard and their comprehensive style guide is regularly updated.
If you’re releasing your music through a label or directly with a distributor, they should ensure that the metadata requirements are met for each unique DSP/service.
Metadata for sync is something that is discussed a lot on Synchblog. Music supervisors work to strict deadlines and don’t have time to chase down rightsholders who haven’t provided them with enough information. A handy guide (available on our website), written by a representative of the Guild of Music Supervisors, explains what music supervisors are looking for.
Emma Griffiths is Synchtank’s marketing manager and the editor of Synchblog, Synchtank’s music industry blog which provides insight into the management and monetization of music copyright.
“Streaming Music – Music Service – Smartphone” by perspec_photo88 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0