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Avoid Sabotaging Your Digital Releases: 5 Music Metadata Tips

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This is part 2 in a special series about the importance of metadata in today’s music industry. 

If you haven’t read part 1 yet, start there before reading this. 

That article covers what metadata is and how getting it wrong could seriously derail your music career. 

Music Metadata Tips

In this part of the series, we’re revealing our music metadata tips focusing on how to get the metadata associated with your releases right the first time and how doing so will save you a world of frustration and lost opportunities.

What To Do When It Comes Your Metadata

Before we get into the nitty gritty, line-by-line details about uploading metadata information, let’s begin by talking about what to do when you type in the crucial details associated with your releases.

Be thorough and don’t rush

You probably work hard to write and record great music, so it makes sense why you’d want to fly through the incredibly tedious process of typing in metadata information linked with your songs as fast as you can. 

However, you should resist this urge as much as humanly possible. Something as small as a single spelling error or blank field can end up costing you massive amounts of money or may result in you and your music becoming far more difficult to discover online than if you’d done things right the first time.

Today’s music industry is built on speed, finesse, and the expectation that artists can only stay relevant by releasing loads of songs as fast as they can write them. 

The debate whether our fast-paced, short attention-spanned music culture is good for musicians is for another place and time, but we can all agree that flying through the metadata details for the sake of efficiency can lead to serious negative repercussions.

Take a deep breath and slow down during this process. 

Check Your Spelling, Formatting, and Details. (Then Check Them Again and Then a Third Time)

The phrase “check your work” will send shivers down many musicians’ spines who don’t think fondly back on their days in school, but it’s an action that’s crucial for getting metadata right with your releases. 

Spelling and formatting errors can lead to massive complications for your career down the road, but the good news is that they’re completely preventable.

To ensure the details you enter are 100% correct, check your work not just once or twice but three times. If you’re groaning at your computer right now, consider that proofreading your metadata details will probably take you five minutes to do. 

Musicians who get their metadata wrong spend months or even years trying to obtain the payments and recognition for their work that they’re owed. A couple of minutes isn’t going to kill you, but getting metadata wrong could end up hurting your career. 

Pay attention to genre and language details

This is common sense, but make sure the metadata details associated with your release like the language of your lyrics, genre, and sub-genre are correct. 

This might not seem like a big deal, but associating your music with these correct details will help make your work more searchable for listeners and those in the industry looking for the kind of music you make.

Don’t neglect your cover art

Cover art that’s blurry, poorly cropped, or wrongly sized not only presents your music in a bad way, but can also lead to big problems down the line. If your cover art is inconsistent between platforms, it could hold up your release or get it rejected altogether. 

Different distributors have strict rules when it comes to uploading cover art because they want the visual aspects of your music to show through over platforms like Spotify and Apple Music in the best way possible. 

But rules aside, the quality of the cover art you choose to link to your music is a big deal for audiences, so it’s worth paying attention to during the metadata process simply for that reason alone.

Skip the tricks, hacks, and workarounds

You or your band aren’t smarter than your digital distributor or massive music platforms like Spotify. 

Instead of taking a risk with your metadata by trying to represent it inaccurately in an effort to game the system somehow, you’ll be better off being straightforward and honest. 

Putting in false information will haunt your release as long as it’s up in digital stores, and taking it down and re-uploading it will be a huge hassle. 

Music Metadata Tips

Now that you have some direction on what to do and what to avoid while uploading metadata, let’s take a look at a list of details that you’ll need to be 100% sure of before starting the process. 

One of the major issues plaguing the music industry is the fact that distributors and music platforms don’t have a single list of details to go off of. 

Not every distributor will require the following list of details, but being familiar and ready to fill them out will be a big help during the metadata uploading process.

Track Title: This is the name of your song. 

Genre: The broad musical genre category your song falls under. Rock, pop, alternative, etc. 

Sub-genre: This is a more specific genre you’ll use to categorize your music. K-Pop, indie pop, etc. 

Primary Artist: Fill in the main artist here. If multiple artists collaborated on this song, you’ll need to negotiate this crucial detail beforehand to avoid issues down the road. This field needs to be consistent with details of other songs that appear on an album.

Featured Artists: Add in other artists who contributed to the song here. 

Composer: Add in the name or names of the people who wrote this song. 

Publisher: Add in the name of the publisher representing this song here. If you don’t have a publisher, add in the composer’s name(s) again. 

Producers: Type in the names of whoever produced your track here. Add in your own if you produced this song yourself. 

Additional Contributors:  Add in the name or names of anyone else that contributed to this song.

ISRC: This is a unique identifying code that gives your track its own searchable identity. Your digital distributor will most likely assign you one for your song. 

Explicit Content: Let your distributor know if there’s any explicit content in your music like curse words of offensive themes. If you fail to do this, your song could be flagged and taken off music platforms. 

Lyrics Language: This indicates what language your lyrics are in.

Lyrics publisher: Fill in this section with the name of whoever is publishing the lyrics for this song if applicable. 

Composition Owner: Who owns the composition rights to this track? It could be a record label you’re working with, but it will most likely be you. Do your research before filling out this section. 

Year of Composition: Add in the year this song will be released here. 

Master Recording Owner: Fill in the name of who owns the master recording of this track here. Again, do your research to make sure this crucial detail is correct. 

Year of Recording: Add in the year this track was recorded here. 

Release Language: This section is a bit tricky. It refers to the language of the platforms you’re sending your music to. Stick to the language of your origin and check with the distributor you’re working with details about this section if it shows up on your upload form and you’re not sure what to do. 

Metadata isn’t a fun topic to talk (or write) about, but it’s something all musicians should be taking more seriously. Rushing or ignoring it altogether could impact the art you work hard to create and share, so extending your time and attention to getting the details associated with your music is essential.

Furthermore, there are tools out there that help you to stay organized with you metadata so that you don’t need to resort to your memory if you ever need to input the same information elsewhere.

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