The over-abundance of songs is now a well-established reality in the music industry. Unfortunately, being talented and creative is no longer enough. Adapting to this reality can be seen as an opportunity to stand out from the crowd. In today’s music industry, understanding and mastering metadata has become essential to boosting your visibility as a musician or music professional.
1. What is metadata?
This technical term refers to the set of data that characterizes a song but is not “constituent” to it. To make an analogy, it is the equivalent of the information shown on the packaging of a milk carton. Should artists become outstanding data scientists? No, probably not. But analyzing and manipulating musical metadata is fundamental to publishing, distributing and exploiting the full potential of your music.
Metadata includes information such as artist, genre, label, song title, album name, track number, and ISRC code.
Strict conventions have been established, notably by Spotify and Apple Music, for editing metadata. If the information you provide is incorrect or approximate, it may be relegated by the major streaming platforms to very specific searches, or not classified at all.
2. Learning to manage your metadata with precision
If a website has badly chosen keywords, awkward headers, or weak internal structuring, it will surely be badly referenced on Google and other search engines. In the same way, a track with poorly qualified characteristics will be misclassified by Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Youtube and even Shazam! In short, ignoring metadata can make your track untraceable.
Originally this data was burned directly onto discs, so it was limited. This has changed with the emergence of streaming as a near-exclusive way of listening. Nearly all the players in this evolution have adopted metadata as a tool for cataloguing and classifying their gigantic libraries.
To summarize: if your metadata is not in order, your production is simply not ready to be shared and thus potentially become viral on platforms.
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3. Submitting complete and accurate metadata
When it comes to submitting metadata to streaming platforms, your distributor or digital distribution platform takes care of it- if you enter it correctly! Here’s a list of data you might have overlooked, to check carefully before you distribute your track:
- Featured Artists: any other artists featured on the track. Do not mention Featured Artists in the Primary Artists section!
- Publisher: the publisher representing the composer. Re-enter the composer’s name if there is no publisher.
- Additional Contributors: any other person who worked on the piece and should be credited ISRC. As a reminder, the ISRC code is a kind of tattoo of your songs allowing you to find them later on. If you don’t have an ISRC code for your production, you can get it by clicking on the hyperlink mentioned here.
- Explicit content: indicates if the track contains explicit content- find out more via LANDR.
- Language of lyrics / Lyrics distributor
- Owner of composition / Year of composition
- Owner of registration / Year of registration
- Language of distribution: Even if you intend to distribute your release in another country or territory, the language of distribution must be the language of the metadata you enter.
4. Some mistakes to watch out for
1. Check at least 3 times the spelling and format of your data
- Never use abbreviations or add punctuation.
- If you need to enter an additional artist or additional contributor, use a “+” sign to add an additional term
- Do not mention “X & Y” in the artist field to designate the collaboration between artist X and artist Y, unless you want to create a real artist profile combining both on the platform.
2. Don’t overdo it
Metadata that does not provide relevant, accurate or value-added information will not contribute positively to your cataloguing on streaming platforms.
3. Be thoughtful about your album, EP, or single covers
You must pay the same degree of attention to your visuals as you do to other information you publish. Platforms remind you that they do not accept URLs, “@” symbols, or too much text on your cover. These elements are perceived by broadcasters as likely to divert traffic away from the platform.
5. Focus n°1: Kid3, a tool to manage your metadata more easily
Editing your metadata can quickly become tedious and not very fun. In order to avoid having to repeat the operation multiple times, you can use Audio Taggers such as Kid3. Kid3 offers the ability to insert or modify tags in music files.
The procedure is simple. Simply select the file. The software will then display the information fields (metadata) that can be modified. The artist will be able to specify the name of the artist, the type of music and many others. The interface of the software is quite intuitive.
6. Focus n°2: The Label Copy
The Label Copy is a subset of metadata that can be used to quickly and clearly identify the rights holders of a musical production. The term appears when an artist collaborates with another artist on a compilation or when a label receives its first licence. Behind the term is information such as the artist, song title, ISRC code, publisher, producer and rights owner. This information is fundamental as it governs the distribution of your copyright revenue. It is therefore imperative that they are very accurate and rigorous. This information can be all the more valuable when you plan to sample the title and want to control the legal framework of your creation.
The dematerialization of the music industry has inevitably led to a new requirement for metadata editing. Strict and rigorous editing of this metadata allows for successful cataloguing and archiving for the artist on streaming platforms. Understanding metadata has thus become both a necessity and a lever for the artist in the context of overabundant music production.