Nowadays more than ever, to be a musician you also have to be an entrepreneur. And believe it or not, one of the things you need to keep your eye on in order for your brand and business to flourish is your metadata.
Missing metadata may sound like a small, even trivial problem. As it turns out though, it's crucial when it comes to music pros getting the credit and payment they’re due. It’s estimated that up to 25 percent of royalty payments aren’t paid to the right people at all due to missing, incomplete, or incorrect metadata — leaving billions on the table in unpaid royalties.
Read on to better understand what music metadata is and exactly why it matters when it comes to your music career.
Back in the day, metadata was some basic information that came with the files on a CD. Nowadays, the term refers to all the information which corresponds to a song file, such as the:
All of these bits of information are used to identify and categorize audio content on digital platforms so that it can be discoverable when needed (for things like trend tracking, playlists, and generating accurate search results).
They also ensure that when a song is used and played, the people who are owed money get paid for it. Sounds simple enough, right?
But the unfortunate reality is that synchronizing this information across all sorts of different industry databases is much easier said than done. This is down to metadata not being filled out in the first place, different formats and platforms, and an overall lack of standardized tagging practices.
In the context of the music industry, there are three main types of metadata you should be aware of (and keep tabs on):
In other words, all the bits of information used to identify, sort, and present audio files, like the ones we listed in the bullet points above. Descriptive metadata is used to build music libraries, artist pages on Spotify, and even identify songs on the radio. This type of metadata is most obvious to listeners and will affect both the representation of your brand and their listening slash discovery experience if it’s a mess on digital platforms.
A lot of people are involved when it comes to creating and publishing a song. Most people will just remember the name of the performing artist, but there are also musicians, lyricists, songwriters, sound engineers, and producers involved in the background. The purpose of Ownership & Performing Rights metadata is to make sure all of these players get credited and paid properly.
Unlike the first two types of metadata which relate to facts (the who, what, where and when of the audio file so to speak), recommendation metadata is more subjective. It describes how your music sounds or feels using subjective tags like genre tags, mood labels, and song similarity scores.Recommendation metadata is produced, owned, and managed by DSPs rather than artists themselves. That being said, it’s still super important to keep an eye on it and make sure your distributor is doing your work justice. That’s because recommendation metadata is vital for discovery purposes - it determines what songs, artists, and playlists get recommended to users, which can have a huge effect on your reach.
DSPs are becoming more and more restrictive when it comes to proper content distribution. Getting your music metadata right from the get-go will ensure that your music appears on their platforms in the first place. Just like getting your song lyrics online, your metadata helps listeners easily identify your content and link it back to you for a smooth experience from the customer's point of view.
But more than that, it’s vital when it comes to getting discovered by new listeners and expanding your global reach. DSPs like Spotify, Amazon Music, and Apple Music use metadata to suggest similar artists to listeners and help users curate those playlists everybody wants to get on.
You need to start thinking about your music metadata as a digital business card. Just like the credits that roll at the end of a movie, song credits tell the audience and other industry professionals who did what.
In other words, they’re your calling card for anybody who notices your work and wants to involve you in what they’re working on. Music supervisors for advertisements, TV shows, and movies are always on the hunt for the right music to use in their projects. That’s why including as much metadata as possible from the beginning makes it easier for them to track you down and open the doors to new business opportunities.
All stakeholders should be fairly recognized and compensated for their role in creating music. Without the right metadata in place, it makes it even harder to get credit and royalty revenues for your work when it’s used.
As you’ll know, royalty splitting is already extremely complex due to so many players being involved and the complexity of working across international markets. That’s why it’s best to ensure that the metadata is as accurate as possible from the start so that there are fewer technical obstacles to creators getting paid what they’re owed.
Putting music out into the world without accurate metadata attached to it is like painting a picture and not signing it, or writing a novel and not putting your name on the cover. You never know what could happen in the future. Who would have ever thought that Kate Bush’s iconic ‘Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)’ would make $2.3 million after being featured in the equally iconic 'Stranger Things’, 37 years after its release?That’s why it’s so important to spend time and energy on getting your music metadata and credits in place. In the digital age of music, it’s tantamount to investing in the longevity of your business, like a creative pension if you will. So make sure you get credit where credit is due - your work deserves it.
Designed by artists, for artists, Musixmatch Pro is the go-to destination for lyrics and credits management. Musixmatch Pro empowers you to distribute your lyrics and manage your credits across all major digital streaming services and social networks so that you can showcase your work, boost your career, and grow your audience with ease.
Learn more about the advantages of using Musixmatch Pro here.
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