Alan Cross

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.

3 thoughts on “Music’s Ongoing Metadata Problem. Please Fix It.

  • April 6, 2016 at 11:33 am
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    I’ve spent more hours of my life then I care to think about on curating a massive collection of digital music, mainly dealing with bad metadata. My preferences on naming have changed over time too, so I revise occasionally, but I definitely wish it was easier as most of it is manual.

    I use a program called MP3Tag (which is a godsend! check it out and support the independent creator!) and it includes some automation and scripting abilities, but it’s a bit limited in that not a lot is built-in, and I’m very limited in ability in that area. Also not everything can be automated, given the weird idiosyncrasies of naming, etc that you mentioned.

    I wish I could afford to hire a professional to script some of this for me! The big guys could afford to do this though… especially since in the digital era, it’s name once, copy endlessly. Get it together, people!

    This is a great step though, these consortiums and whatnot, but I worry that they have these ‘summits’ and discuss a bunch of things, without it actually changing anything (Sort of like environmental summits, UN summits, etc!). I hope that’s not the case though.

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  • April 6, 2016 at 4:57 pm
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    I agree overall with your sentiment Alan. I feel that Metadata is still poorly understood and implemented. There are also inconsistencies in its use. I’m not a fan of the genre tag just because some music crosses multiple genres and it’s not fair to choose just one. I rip almost all my media files and use tagging software to tag things properly however I do omit a lot of info. I do this to ensure accuracy and consistency in my library. I have even gone so far as to correct other’s tags.

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  • April 11, 2016 at 5:14 pm
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    Music Brainz best practices have existed for a long time, since before streaming went supernova. But every label uses some poor intern to send the files to streaming services and they turn data into shit. I can “see” in my Last FM stats the moment i started streaming because of the tags turning into shit: misspelled album titles, no standardization, the annoying “feat.” bullshit, “remastered version” crap and other stuff that frankly i think is there to obfuscate royalty payments.

    As frustrating as it was sometimes, the “wiki” approach to tags that Last FM used to have was self correcting and the best i’ve seen so far.

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