Although the words “red_hot_chili_peppers_californication.mp3” hold a lot of nostalgic and cultural value to most people, no one really likes their music library filled with inappropriately titled song names. In this day and age where music streaming and digital downloads are the primary source of revenue and popularity for most music artists, Metadata has essentially become the bedrock of the music industry and it goes much deeper than just song titles.
What is metadata –
Metadata is data about other data and in this case, the ‘other data’ we are talking about is Music. So, essentially all the information about a particular song can be referred to as ‘Metadata’. Some examples of metadata tags would be Song Title, Artist, Song-Writer, Producer, Label, Publisher, Distributor, Genre, BPM, and the list just goes on. And while correct metadata does really dazzle up your music library, it holds much more value than that. You see, Metadata is what helps an artist get paid since the revenue accrues to the artist & the label whose name is mentioned in the metadata tags. Along with that, metadata helps you get discovered by allowing your fans to look up your music on streaming platforms and even search engines when they put your name in the search bar.
While the concept of Metadata might sound not-so-complex (and boring), it gets really complicated in the case of classical music. That is because a pop song or actually any kind of mainstream song would have basic metadata information but when it comes to classical music, streaming platforms like Spotify & Apple seem to not come up to scratch. Thomas Steffens, CEO of classical streaming platform Primephonic, says “The problem is that Spotify and other music-streaming services are mostly designed for pop music, which from a data perspective is very simple, there’s the artist, the name of the album, the name of the song and that’s it.”
Inaccurate metadata information can lead to an artist or multiple artists missing out on potential plays, royalties, and all kinds of amazing opportunities. One such case was of a musician signed to a major indie label who missed out on royalties totalling up to almost $40,000 due to incorrect metadata information.
Now you have read this cautionary tale and want to ensure that you don’t end up being one. Well, lucky for you, recently, the Association for Electronic Music (AFEM) and Consolidated Independent (CI) collaborated to create a comprehensive Metadata best practices guide which you can read here.
While handling and keeping track of Metadata can be a tedious task, services like SongSpace which was recently acquired by FUGA, will not only help you keep track of it but will also accommodate your creative workflow. Speaking of applications that can help you deal with Metadata, AI-Curation start-up, Musiio recently introduced a new feature that allows you to enter a YouTube URL for any song or even allows you to upload a .mp3 file and in return provides you crucial metadata information in an instant. When you enter the YouTube link for the hit Ed Sheeran song ‘Shape Of You‘, these are the results that you will get, the song is 100% pop, has high vocal presence, it is in the key of F♯ minor, has a tempo of 96 BPM and ‘moderate’ energy; is at the extreme ‘Positive’ end of the negative-to-positive spectrum; and is tagged with the moods Quirky (62%) and Happy (54%). This seems like pretty sophisticated technology to me but the new DIY-AI feature is just supposed to be a demo and once the company acquires more clients, the same platform would be able to extract metadata and help out labels and streaming services at a bigger scale.