Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Why A Metadata Standard Is Important

NARM logo image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
The Nation Association of Recording Merchandisers recently announced that they would be having a "Metadata Summit" at their upcoming Music Biz 2013 Conference in Los Angeles on May 6th and 7th. This is the first of it's kind, and is somewhat of a turning point for the industry.

Metadata, or the data about the data, in this case refers to the information about the digital audio file. This can be everything from the name of the song, the artist, it's ISRC code, the publisher and the record label. The metadata can include so much more though, from when the song was recorded and published, the producer and songwriters, and the musical genre, and much more.

The problem is that there's no standard as to exactly what metadata should be included, which means that most digital tracks are woefully inadequate when it comes to these details. Hopefully, the Metadata Summit will be a first step in the right direction.

On the surface, filling in metadata seems like a somewhat mundane task, but it can play an important part in search. For instance, if there's an artist you like and you'd like to find everything that he's been connected with, metadata can be an essential piece to search. It would be great to find other songs that he's written or produced, but unless that metadata is included, you'll have to find the info some other way. That's an opportunity missed by the artist, the publisher and record label alike.

A second reason for filling in the metadata is it can make accounting easier by clearly delineating who owns the copyright of the song and who administrates it. Getting paid is always a priority and this is one way to ensure that it actually happens. The only thing worse than not getting paid is having your royalty held up in an escrow account because it wasn't clear who should get the money.

Even if you're a indie artist you can still be diligent about metadata. As you're making an MP3, ACC or FLAC file, be sure to fill in as much of the data as you can. Two that are frequently overlooked are comments and artwork, but both can be important in search and grabbing the attention of a prospective listener. It may take a few minutes more to load the info in, but you only have to do it once, and it can be very worthwhile, especially if new standards are created and music search engines begin to utilize them more.

So don't overlook that metadata. Your fans want it, it will help them find you, and help you get paid.

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