March 22, 2021

Why Music Metadata Is Absolutely Essential for Artists In the Streaming Era

Music metadata is a chore for most artists. But good metadata can make or break a career.

With streaming now a dominant format in the music industry, music metadata has assumed an incredibly important role. It sits adjacent to every aspect of an artist's career, from distribution, discovery prospects, litigation protection – to royalties. Hardworking professionals in the music industry that don't establish a solid body of metadata are missing out on career opportunities at best — and squandering a career at worst.

Having good metadata can lead to being discovered on social media platforms, building an audience, and, yes, collecting royalties. Bad metadata leaves royalties uncollected and, at worst – may doom an artist or professional to obscurity.

You don't have to be a data geek to keep accurate metadata records, though. Numerous companies are working on solutions to help artists create metadata without needing music workflow knowledge. VEVA Sound is one example with its VEVA Collect platform, which makes writing good metadata a snap.

How Music Metadata Impacts Discovery

Strong metadata enhances the chances of a track's inclusion in algorithmic-driven playlists on streaming services. Good metadata can help these algorithms classify and deliver songs to the fans who most want to hear your music.

Think of Tom Cruise's character in Jerry MacGuire – "Help me to help you!" Good metadata helps the algorithms that streaming relies on more easily classify your music – helping you increase your discovery prospects.

Regardless of how you feel about algorithm-driven music recommendations – they're here to stay. Voice-controlled devices rely on these algorithms to serve up music, and those algorithms rely on good metadata to answer those requests accurately.

Distribution Services Deal in 'Good' Metadata

Want to see your work distributed across multiple streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Deezer? You'll need a distribution service like DistroKid or CD Baby – and those services require basic metadata info to get started.

Sure, you can skip distribution on 'major' streaming services and host your music on YouTube or SoundCloud. But your music is severely limited in its potential audience when it's not reaching any of Spotify's 300+ million users. Younger listeners turn to their favorite music streaming service for music discovery – and good metadata is required, like a passport for entry.

"If you're an independent artist, the better your data, the better your chance for competing in the marketplace," says VEVA Sound Vice President Casey Taylor.

'Good' Music Metadata Helps Artists Get Paid

Complete music metadata means better revenues for all artists involved in a project. Artists can maximize their streaming earnings and guarantee revenue-capture on sudden surges – like going viral on TikTok. In addition to enjoying extra royalties – payments attributable to newfound streams – creators receive the entirety of their income from complete metadata.

Digital service providers (DSPs) recently turned over $424 million in unmatched payments to the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC). That sizable portion of funds results from incomplete or missing metadata – and illustrates the importance of good metadata from the beginning of a project.

Contributors Receive Credit and Compensation

Music metadata tracks every single person's contribution to a project. That makes it possible for session musicians and background vocalists to get the compensation they're owed. Complete metadata has long been a weak spot for session musicians who can help bring studio sessions to life.

Just recently, Digital Music News reported that the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Fund has distributed $62 million to non-featured performers. That includes session musicians and singers. Distributing those funds required lots of sleuthing and digging – because of bad music metadata rife with incomplete information.

It's estimated that up to 95% of collaborators are uncredited on at least one work. Full music metadata helps contributors receive the credit and the compensation they're due – without all the detective work afterward to determine shares.

Good Metadata Records Minimize Problems

Complete music metadata records minimize the odds of encountering trouble down the road. That may arise in the form of litigation surrounding usage, improper crediting, and payments. Metadata can help you avoid expensive multi-faceted lawsuits over these issues.

For example, the VEVA Collect platform makes it easy to cut through metadata noise. It's a one-stop crediting tool that includes a check-in feature for artists and professionals to receive credit. It combines file storage with credit and metadata management. It keeps working files paired with metadata throughout the creative process – allowing each to flow through the digital supply chain into distribution.

Tools like VEVA Collect can change how artists approach metadata for the better. It should never be an oversight, as it is in much of the industry today. Set yourself up for success by creating complete music metadata from the start instead of spending years chasing unpaid credits.

See original article on Digital Music News.