What is metadata? Why is it so important when you are trying to license your music?

Metadata is the critical information about your track that a supervisor needs to make a decision about whether to use it or not. You need to let them know not just the obvious things like the artist and song name, but who the copyright holders are and your contact info…etc. If you don’t include metadata in your song file and just send out untagged songs, a music supervisor will have no idea who you are or how to reach you.

So how do we make sure we do this right?

Once you have your mastered tracks, the first thing you’re going to want to do is create an MP3 from your full resolution 16 bit / 44.1 kHz master audio file. Your master file will almost always be a .WAV file these days which can’t hold metadata. Only MP3s and AIFF files can hold this information. Make sure you create your MP3 at the bit rate of at least 192 kbps. You won’t get much perceivable quality from MP3 bit rates above 192 kbps, but it’s smart to use 256 kbps to be on the safe side.  

It’s really easy to enter metadata in almost all digital audio workstations. Just check your help menu in your favorite one. You can also easily do this in iTunes. Go to iTunes preferences > General > Import Settings. Select MP3 under “Import Using” and then click on “Custom”. Under “Stereo bit rate” select 256 kbps, check off “Use VBR”, select “Highest” under “Quality”, and you can leave the rest of the preferences the same.

After you have created your MP3, you simply need to select it in iTunes and hit “Command i” (on a Mac). This will bring up the MP3 information box allowing you to type in the metadata. Enter your info in the comment fields. Make sure you include the song name, contact email, phone number and something that indicates you own all the rights to your master and publishing for the song. You can put “I own 200%” or “One-Stop” which lets the person listening to your music know what you control all rights to the song so they only need to contact you to license the track. If you don’t control 200% of the song, then you have to list the songwriter, publisher, and/or label share.

You even have the option to add album artwork (or a photo), song bpm, song description & mood, as well as lyrics if you’d like though they’re not necessary. The most important parts are song title, artist name, writer/publisher & master recording rights, and the contact info. Here’s what you should list: 

Song Name:  Make sure the title is clear and you don’t have any ‘extras’ like “Song title alt mix master 2”. You may have labeled your song that way to make it easy for you to know which version it is, but it’s not good when sending it out to someone.  Two things to note…if you have a featured artist on the track, they should be included in the song name - ie. “Song Title (feat. Guest Artist)”.  And if a song is a cover, be sure to list the original artist in the song name. For example: “Hey Jude (The Beatles cover)”­­

Artist:  Artist or band name

Album:  If the song is a single, you can list it in this field or leave it blank

Composer: Be sure to list all the songwriters’ FULL names, PRO information (ie. ASCAP/BMI) and splits (ie. ownership %). And it’s not a bad idea to list the CAE/IPI# too if you have it handy.

Grouping – List the companies clearing the master and publishing sides and their splits if applicable - i.e. Publishing Co. Name (50% publishing).  If you control the song completely, you would list it here as well - ie. Artist Name (one-stop).

Genre – It’s a good idea to list it but not required. You can choose a genre from iTunes’s dropdown list or enter your own genre (this is good if it’s multi-genre).

BPM – Include if you have it (very helpful), but not required. You can use an app or your DAW to figure out your song’s BPM.

Comments – It’s super important that you list the contact info for licensing here.  You can also list the song description and mood which helps a music supervisor find your song if they’re doing a search for a specific type of song (ie. melancholy, ballad, female vocals…etc).

Here are three examples of correct metadata tagging: 

1. One-Stop song:

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2. Multi songwriter/publisher song:

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3. Cover song:

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