Published on April 6th, 2016 | by Alan Cross3
Music’s Ongoing Metadata Problem. Please Fix It.
If you’ve ever worked with music tags in a program like iTunes, you’re familiar with metadata. It’s all the information about a song beyond the title and the artist: album title, year of release, composers, genre, publishing information, the track’s ISRC number and so on. This kind of information is ultra-important in the digital era because clean, accurate data ensures that the right people get paid for their music. Bad and incomplete data leads to the kind of you-didn’t-pay-me class action suits now being faced by Spotify.
I’m frustrated by poor metadata all the time. Record labels send me new releases directly through a secure digital distribution system called DMDS and it’s appalling the number of tracks that come directly from the labels with incomplete metadata. Misspelled song titles and artist names. No track numbers. One particular major label never includes the name of the album on songs it sends me, so these files get lumped into the “Unknown” album folder in iTunes. That’s nuts.
It gets weirder the deeper you go into this issue. Think about weird spellings (hip hop, I’m looking at you), punctuation issues and the subjective nature of lumping any song into a genre. And the bigger the database, the worse the problems get.
This is why we need something like the Metadata Summit. From Hypebot:
The fourth annual Summit will feature a keynote presentation from SOCAN’s Michael McCarty, Chief Membership & Business Development Officer, and Jeff King, Chief Operating Officer, who will discuss global revenue, discovery, and attribution, as well as sessions on international infrastructure, new business models tied to metadata, and global publishing data. Featured will be top executives from 7digital, AFEM, Beggars Group, BMI, Consolidated Independent, County Analytics, Dart Music, DDEX, Digimarc, Loudr, MovieLabs, Music Week, PledgeMusic, PRS for Music, Rough Trade Music Publishing, SOCAN, Syntax Creative, and TGiT.
“Ever since we launched the Metadata Summit four years ago, we have been impressed by the number of people who have come out to learn more about and contribute their expertise,” said Bill Wilson, Vice President of Digital Strategy and Business Development for Music Biz. “Metadata is the bedrock on which the digital music business is built, and many of the issues facing the business around payment, discovery, and attribution all rely on metadata.”
First held at Music Biz 2013 in Los Angeles, the event has drawn record crowds in previous years, leading to the creation of the Music Metadata Style Guide, currently in its third update, which provides a set of common naming conventions and data entry standards for companies to use when listing, ingesting, and managing digital music.
Fix it. Just fix it.