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Music Metadata Explained: What Artists Need To Know

Ok, we get it - data can be boring. But when it comes to your music, it matters. Aside from the track itself, there’s nothing more important than the info you submit alongside it. Getting your data right can be the difference between landing huge opportunities or your music getting lost in the ether.

Luckily for you, Ditto Music’s Release Builder offers an easy way to make sure all the right information is present and correct. Ideal if you’ve just finished your next big song and you’re ready to share it with the world.

The magic word here is metadata.

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<p style="width: 350px; padding: 20px; color: #000000; background-color: #ffffff; border: 5px solid #000000; text-align: left;"><a href="#whymetadata">Why is metadata important?</a><br /><br /><a href="#examples">Examples of music metadata</a><br /><br /><a href="#submit">How to submit music metadata</a><br /><br /><a href="#mistakes">Common music metadata mistakes</a></p>

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What is music metadata & why it is important?

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You might have come across it before, but we’re going to take you through exactly what it means and why it's so important.

Metadata is what makes your music discoverable.

It tells you everything you need to know about a piece of music. One definition for metadata in a music context is the information that is embedded in an audio file and used to identify content. 

This would include the track title, artist name, producer, writer, song duration, genre etc. It's basically all that extra details that show up on music services like Spotify.

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Why is metadata so important?

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Accurate metadata ensures that your music is properly credited and this is what your royalty payments are dependent on. If you’re metadata is wrong, you run the risk of not being paid all the royalties you’re due.

Metadata also makes sure your music is mapped to the correct profile on streaming platforms. After putting in all that hard work on your release and release strategy, the last thing you want to happen is for your new song to end up on someone else’s profile!

Ensuring that your music is properly credited and easily to identify makes it much easier to land big industry opportunities like sync deals.

Imagine… 

You’ve sent your music off to a big music supervisor for a potential sync deal - let’s say it’s for a feature in a new Netflix movie. 

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Music meta data explained for Netflix sync deal

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In your excitement to get your song heard, you’ve left the file name the way that the sound engineer exported it, so the Netflix big-wig has received a lovely pitch email from you, a great track to boot, but a song with metadata like ‘song-1-v5-master-mix-final’.

A few days later, the music supervisor decides ‘yeah that song was pretty good’ and tries to find it again. 

The problem is that they have been sent hundreds of songs and when they search your name, song title, or genre, nothing comes up in their music library, only lots and lots of generically named songs. 

Then there’s another issue. 

Even if the supervisor manages to find your track, and they decide that they want to go ahead and use it for the placement, they will still face the challenge of clearing and licensing your music. 

They require a specific set of information so that they can track down the copyright holders and get the permission they need in order to clear this sync deal. With the right metadata, this process would be simple as all the information would be there in the audio file information.

Sure, they could Google you and try and locate all the right information, but that could take days if not months - and time is money!

Getting your metadata correct will prevent your music from being lost in the endless maze of new releases. The better your searchability, the better your chances of success! And including copyright information and contact details in your metadata will get your music sync ready.

Interested to find out more about sync? Find out how sync deals work.

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Music metadata examples: What do you need to submit?

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We’ve compiled a handy music metadata checklist that you can use for your next release:

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Artist Name - Of course you want them to know who you are!

You should also include any featured artists here, and if the song is a cover you can include this here too.

If you'd like to know more about earning money from covers, you can learn how to release a cover song here.

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Song Name - Duh!

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Composer and/or Writer - This is for copyright reasons so it should be their full legal name. If you wrote it yourself add your name here, even if you’re already listed as the artist. This is especially important if your artist name is different to your legal name.

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Producer - Again, this should be their full legal name.

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Copyright Year - This is usually the year that the song was written.

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Genre - Just a helpful piece of information for curators and supervisors. It can also help platforms like Spotify to playlist you!

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ISRC Code - If you know what it is you may as well include it! It is a helpful identifier and will make sure that you are paid properly if the song is used in pretty much any way.

The ISRC code is particularly important if the track is a re-release to ensure that sales and stream counts aren't lost.

Some stores like Apple Music require metadata to be consistent throughout its lifespan so anything that has been released before needs to have identical metadata (including the ISRC) to the original release.

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There’s a load of other things you could include such as BPM, song split (so that everyone is credited and paid properly), song duration, and track number if this is part of an album or EP. But the above are the absolute essentials.

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How to submit your music metadata

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Okay so you’ve collected all your metadata, now what?

Well fortunately, the Ditto Music Release builder will help you to input all your metadata while you are building your release.

Here is a step-by-step guide to using the release builder to create perfect metadata.

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1. Create a new release! Input the release title, select your artist and upload the artwork.

TOP TIP: Plan artist names must only contain one artist / band. Featured artists and other credits must be listed using the additional primary and featuring artist designator and contributor roles.

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How to submit music metadata - step 1

How to submit music metadata - step 1b

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2. Upload your track. We'd recommend that you name your track's audio file as clearly as possible. Make sure it's just the song title and the artist name.

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How to submit music metadata - step 2

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3. Once the track has finished uploading you can click edit. This is where you can add your contributors and enter more of that all important information.

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How to submit music metadata - step 3

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That’s it! You can step through the rest of the release builder to choose your release date, and select which stores and territories you want to distribute your new song to.

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Common music metadata mistakes to avoid

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So now that you are a little more metadata savvy, let’s quickly run through the top metadata mistakes we see most often, so that you can avoid falling into these pit-traps.

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Artist names

We mentioned this earlier, but plan artist names can only contain one name.
Any featured artists or contributors have to be included in their designated field. 
If you want your music to be released under more than one artist, all you need to do is click ‘Add another release artist’.

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Music metadata explained - Mistakes to avoid

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Artwork

It is so important to make sure that your artwork matches the metadata you have provided. That means making sure both the artist name and release title are spelled exactly the same in both the metadata and the artwork. This includes any punctuation in your name and release title.

Major platforms do not allow URLs, excessive text or social media handles on artwork. Streamline your upload process by making sure that your artwork only contains the artist name, the release name, and a parental advisory sticker if necessary.

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Release type

Now this might seem like an obvious one to some, but sometimes it’s hard to know if your release is an EP or an Album.

Here are the guidelines direct from Apple. Follow these to properly define your release.

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<p style="padding: 20px; color: #000000; background-color: #ffffff; border: 5px solid #000000; text-align: center;">Single - contains one to three songs that are less than 10 minutes each.<br /><br />EP - contains four to six songs with a total running time of 30 minutes or less<br /><br />Album - basically anything else.</p>

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Another thing to remember is that you don't need to add the release type to the release name. This is added by the stores.

<p style="color: red">- Bliss (Single) -> Incorrect</p>
<p style="color: green">- Bliss -> Correct</p>

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Explicit Tracks

It's absolutely fine to distribute music with explicit lyrics, but it's really important that you label them appropriately. If your track has any expletives you need to label it as explicit.

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Instrumental Tracks

Again, it is perfectly fine to distribute an instrumental track, but you need to make sure it is labeled as such.

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Now that you know what music metadata is and how it works, it’s time to start getting your music out there! Start your free 30 day trial with Ditto Music and release unlimited music everywhere.

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