How To

Music Metadata How To: What Is Metadata?

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Mary Woodcock


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Music Metadata How To: What Is Metadata?

Sync is the holy grail for many in the music industry. A golden egg for artists, a key revenue stream for publishers and lifeblood for others, such as music libraries. Now felt like a good time to cover the basics, the essentials, and some extra tips and tricks with Metadata and how it’s going to help you get your music placed.

Music Gateway what is metadata management

What Is Metadata?

Metadata is a secondary set of data that describes and gives information about other data. We could define metadata in the context of music as the information embedded in an audio file, that is used to identify the content. If the song file itself is the data, the metadata is the song title or artist name, the track length, the BPM, genre; basically, all the stuff that shows up in iTunes and even a little bit more than that. Metadata is effectively SEO (search engine optimisation) for your tracks, and also works as an incredibly useful catalogue management tool. There is a full list of metadata fields below as well as information on their importance and usage, but for now, let’s keep it simple.

Why Is Metadata Important?

Metadata is important because it makes your music SEARCHABLE. Meaning people can find your music, and listen to it (fans) and license it (music supervisors).

Here’s a scenario for you. You’ve sent some music to a Music Supervisor, who likes it enough to playlist the track and sort through the other 500 or so songs they’ve been sent that day.

However, you forget one vital component… your metadata! The supervisor searches for your track by genre (or by song title) and can’t find your track. Consequently, he/she loses interest and can’t find it in his or her iTunes library, a vast labyrinth of endless music…

Searchability is crucial, especially when you submit your track to a big metadata management tool. When a music supervisor comes back to iTunes looking for the song you sent, a reliable and full set of metadata could make you an ideal candidate preference for placements. Good metadata builds trust.

Metadata sync search

But There’s More!

So now that a music supervisor has discovered your music and shortlisted a track, it’s ready to be placed in the latest Netflix original series. But they still have to clear and license it.

They could google your artist name and song title, find your website, find your contact information, then reach out to ask who owns the rights. Even then, they need to get in touch with the rights owners, (which may be your label or your publisher). This entire process has taken them anywhere from 1 day to months, depending on how many rights holders are involved, and how easy it was to find the rightsholder information, and how many other songs they’re clearing at the time.

By including contact information and copyright ownership information in the metadata of the song, (we’ll show you how in a second) you can be ahead of the game and increase your chances of landing sync placements.

What Metadata Should I Add?

Music gateway Metadata management and cloud storage

Here is a comprehensive, annotated list of Metadata you should include in your song files.

Song Name – Any featured artist’s should be included here (i.e. Song Name ft. Artist) If a song is a cover, say this in the song name field – “Song Name (Original cover)” Eg. Hallelujah (Jeff Buckley cover)

Artist – Artist Name

Composer – First name Last name – (Ownership %) (P.R.O number)/ Repeat as necessary for multiple authors. You should fill out all information with full names, PRO information (and CAE/IPI numbers wherever possible).

Year – Year the master recording was originally released.

Genre – Include if possible, very useful.

ISRC Code – Include if you have it, this will help identify your recording, and ensure you get paid properly.

BPM (Beats per Minute) – Include if you have it, very useful but not required.

Rating – Do NOT include rating. Have this empty in the event supervisors want to use it themselves.

Grouping – Percentage controlled by the company clearing the master rights/ percentage controlled by the company clearing the publishing rights. Should include who is sending the song and the percent they control of a certain side. If the sender has the song one-stop, it should say so (i.e. Gratitude Sound (one-stop)). The Grouping section includes the company that is the contact the music supervisor is dealing with, not the actual cue sheet publisher name.

Comments – Contact info for licensing party. Also include “consult about territories” here if there are any issues regarding territories (i.e. if you can only clear for specific territories)

Album – Album Name

Album Artist – Same as artist above, not required.

Disc Number – Include if you have it, not required.

Track Number– Include if you have it, not required.

If you have extra data, such as mood, or instrumentation, cover versions, or anything else. Generally, the rule is more is better. Just be sure to format things so they are readable, do NOT USE CAPS, and be clear and watch for typos. Is that everything? Well, probably not, but it’s a good start.

How Do I Embed Metadata Into Files?

Music Gateway Metadata management tools

If you are signed to a record label, they will do this for you. If you’re signed to a music publishing company, they can help. Do you release music independently or just wondering how to add metadata? There are websites for metadata storage, like Music Gateway, that make this process reliable, time-efficient and easy!

Simply upload the files to your file storage area, and click ‘Edit Metadata’. We even have a music metadata editor tool across multiple files, a rare and useful tool that will save you lots of time. (Good luck finding that anywhere else)

What Is The Sync Portal?


We’re working with some of the best Music Supervisors across TV, Films, & Gaming, & have an exclusive channel into a large number of Advertising Agencies. The Sync Portal is a way for our members to have their music represented by Music Gateway. We’ll be doing all the heavy lifting, so you can focus on what’s important, the music!

Read more about the sync portal and get started with it here. Not a member of Music Gateway yet? Take advantage of our 14-day no-strings-attached free trial now!

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