Music Metadata Explained: What Artists Need To Know
Music metadata is one of the least thing most artists pay attention to. Ok, we get it – data can be boring. But when it comes to your music, it matters. Aside from the track itself, there’s nothing more important than the info you submit alongside it. Getting your data right can be the difference between landing huge opportunities or your music getting lost in the ether.
What is music metadata & why it is important?
You might have come across it before, but we’re going to take you through exactly what it means and why it’s so important when it comes to music distribution.
Metadata is what makes your music discoverable.
It tells you everything you need to know about a piece of music. One definition for metadata in a music context is the information that is embedded in an audio file and used to identify content.
This would include the track title, artist name, producer, writer, song duration, genre etc. It’s basically all that extra details that show up on music services like Spotify.
Why is metadata so important?
Accurate metadata ensures that your music is properly credited and this is what your royalty payments are dependent on. If you’re metadata is wrong, you run the risk of not being paid all the royalties you’re due.
Metadata also makes sure your music is mapped to the correct profile on streaming platforms. After putting in all that hard work on your release and release strategy, the last thing you want to happen is for your new song to end up on someone else’s profile!
Ensuring that your music is properly credited and easily to identify makes it much easier to land big industry opportunities like sync deals.
You’ve sent your music off to a big music supervisor for a potential sync deal – let’s say it’s for a feature in a new Netflix movie.
In your excitement to get your song heard, you’ve left the file name the way that the sound engineer exported it, so the Netflix big-wig has received a lovely pitch email from you, a great track to boot, but a song with metadata like ‘song-1-v5-master-mix-final’.
A few days later, the music supervisor decides ‘yeah that song was pretty good’ and tries to find it again.
The problem is that they have been sent hundreds of songs and when they search your name, song title, or genre, nothing comes up in their music library, only lots and lots of generically named songs.
Then there’s another issue.
Even if the supervisor manages to find your track, and they decide that they want to go ahead and use it for the placement, they will still face the challenge of clearing and licensing your music.
They require a specific set of information so that they can track down the copyright holders and get the permission they need in order to clear this sync deal. With the right metadata, this process would be simple as all the information would be there in the audio file information.
Sure, they could Google you and try and locate all the right information, but that could take days if not months – and time is money!
Getting your metadata correct will prevent your music from being lost in the endless maze of new releases. The better your searchability, the better your chances of success! And including copyright information and contact details in your metadata will get your music sync ready.
Interested to find out more about sync? Find out how sync deals work.
Music metadata examples: What do you need to submit?
We’ve compiled a handy music metadata checklist that you can use for your next release:
Artist Name – Of course you want them to know who you are!
You should also include any featured artists here, and if the song is a cover you can include this here too.
If you’d like to know more about earning money from covers, you can learn how to release a cover song here.
Song Name – Duh!
Composer and/or Writer – This is for copyright reasons so it should be their full legal name. If you wrote it yourself add your name here, even if you’re already listed as the artist. This is especially important if your artist name is different to your legal name.
Producer – Again, this should be their full legal name.
Copyright Year – This is usually the year that the song was written.
Genre – Just a helpful piece of information for curators and supervisors. It can also help platforms like Spotify to playlist you!
ISRC Code – If you know what it is you may as well include it! It is a helpful identifier and will make sure that you are paid properly if the song is used in pretty much any way.
The ISRC code is particularly important if the track is a re-release to ensure that sales and stream counts aren’t lost.
Some stores like Apple Music require metadata to be consistent throughout its lifespan so anything that has been released before needs to have identical metadata (including the ISRC) to the original release.
There’s a load of other things you could include such as BPM, song split (so that everyone is credited and paid properly), song duration, and track number if this is part of an album or EP. But the above are the absolute essentials.
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