A Plea for Metadata for Music. What’s Wrong with You Label People?
Music people? We need to have a talk. A serious one. A come-to-Jesus sort of discussion. Consider this a stern warning as part of your performance review.
Most of your work falls in the “satisfactory” category–which is fine. It’s enough for you to keep your job, although we’d like to see the “exceeds expectations” box checked off in a couple of categories. But we’ll get to that later. What I’m most concerned about the areas of where your job performance is significantly below not just expectations but what I need from you if we’re going to continue are relationship.
I’ll just be blunt: why can’t you get metadata right? What’s keeping you from tagging digital song files with all the information I and everyone else needs? This is important data. And supplying everyone with this data is your job!
Let me give everyone some examples. Most music industry people receive new releases through some kind of secure digital download service. In Canada, the preferred method of delivery is a service called DMDS. I log in to a secure website, select the songs I wish to download and the process starts. I’ve chosen to have all the downloads converted into MP3s and played in a special DMDS playlist in iTunes.
It looks like this. The first column is the name of the artist. The second is the name of the album from which this particular song comes. See if you can spot the problem.
Keep in mind that these downloads come directly from the label. Someone somewhere was too goddamn lazy to enter the name of the new Dead Weather album in the file’s metadata. Same thing with AWOLNATION, who have had their last album out for months. As for Nucularboy, who knows what’s going on?
Let’s go a little deeper by clicking on “more info” for one of these straight-from-the-label files.
Song title and artist. That’s it. No album info, no artwork, no composer information (critical for reporting to collectives like SOCAN), no track number. Whoever uploaded this couldn’t even be arsed to put in “2015” as the f**king year! And if you click across all the tabs at the top–artwork, lyrics, options, sorting, file–they’re also either totally empty or useless.
WHY, PEOPLE, WHY?
Music branding guru Michael Bandvold has the same issue. Read his cry for help at Hypebot.
Meanwhile, music people, get your shit together. This is sloppy work and highly annoying to the people you’re supposedly trying to reach. Cut it out. Now.
2 thoughts on “A Plea for Metadata for Music. What’s Wrong with You Label People?”
This drives me crazy too, but I think people like you and I are in the minority here. Most people don’t care. It’s a similar principle as to the reason why terrestrial radio insists on playing the same songs over and over again, which is something you yourself have explained on several occasions. I (and everyone I personally know) hates the limited airwave playlists. But, as you’ve stated before, we are apparently in the minority. Most people listen to the radio for different reasons than we do. Similarly, most people don’t care about details like album, songwriter, year, etc. All the want is artist and (occasionally) the name of the song.
It gets worse. Labels are so lazy that they don’t even give a crap if the poor intern they have assigned to handle metadata when they hand off the files to streaming services is right. Instead of adopting a best practices standard, say Music Brainz, they pull amazing crap: wrong titles for songs, misspelled album names, cockamamie “featuring” junk, etc. As a Last FM user, you noticed immediately when Spotify/Deezer/Songza/etc started polluting the collected info.