Music Industry

Published on May 30th, 2019 | by Alan Cross


Attention musician: Pay attention to your metadata or go broke

Metadata is data about data. For example, if you have a digital track, important information can be embedded with that track in order that it may be forevermore correctly identified, no matter how, when or where that track is used. This includes everything from the title of the song, the name of the artist, the title of the album, the composers, the label, the genre, and more. If you want to see what metadata looks like, just to to iTunes and right-click on any song you might have purchased and select Song Info.

In the digital era, this embedded information is essential for artists getting paid.

Bad metadata is just as bad. Missing fields, incorrect spelling, and inconsistencies will kill that track’s ability to maximize profit.

Yes, this dull sort of stuff. But it’s bloody important.

If you are in the music industry, please, please read all the way through this article from The Verge.

“Recently, a musician signed to a major indie label told me they were owed up to $40,000 in song royalties they would never be able to collect. It wasn’t that they had missed out on payments for a single song — it was that they had missed out on payments for 70 songs, going back at least six years.

“The problem, they said, was metadata. In the music world, metadata most commonly refers to the song credits you see on services like Spotify or Apple Music, but it also includes all the underlying information tied to a released song or album, including titles, songwriter and producer names, the publisher(s), the record label, and more. That information needs to be synchronized across all kinds of industry databases to make sure that when you play a song, the right people are identified and paid. And often, they aren’t.”

See what I mean? Keep reading.


About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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