Shawn spoke with a variety of music professionals in order to research and explore best practices when it comes to working with audio files, for his three-part series, Digital Blues: The Day-to-Day Challenges of Music Sharing.
Top Quotes from Part I – Metadata:
- It’s maddening to think about artists missing opportunities because of something as mundane as a filename (or lack thereof), but it happens all the time.
- Inside your Downloads folder, you come across a folder labelled “WAV.” Inside are eight tracks. Maybe they have track titles, or maybe each one is simply named “TRACK 01,” “TRACK 02,” etc. You decide to listen anyways, and after a quick preview with the spacebar, you drop the files into iTunes, at which point… no additional information comes up. If you work in the music industry, some version of this scenario has almost certainly happened to you.
- WAV files are arguably the most egregious offenders when it comes to missing information… It doesn’t help that there are no universal standards for metadata. Even in the hands of professionals, WAV files can be problematic.
- Files pass through lots of (virtual) hands between the recording studio and the streaming platforms, and if anyone in that chain neglects to include all of the relevant information—or accidentally deletes it during a file transfer or some other process—the consequences can be serious.
- “A lot of people think I want WAV files, but they don’t hold any metadata, so they’re kind of useless,” says Alison Moses, a music supervisor.
- Frustration is often shared by music journalists, music supervisors and really anyone who’s sent music in bulk, as improper or missing metadata can seriously impact their ability to engage with a piece of music—even when they like what they hear.“…There’s no artist name, there’s no label name, there’s nothing. Sometimes I’m left Googling track titles to try and figure out what this thing might be.”
- “I do remain shocked how many people send MP3s that have no artist name or no other contact info, or send a link to a ZIP of MP3s…”
- …it’s important to remember that in an industry where building relationships is key to success, those relationships aren’t helped by files that aren’t labelled properly or don’t contain all of the relevant information about the music they contain.
- No amount of individual “good behaviour” is going to solve all of the metadata issues out there, but increased awareness certainly seems like a good place to start.