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Metadata for musicians
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Table of contents
Presented at 

University of the Arts

February 3, 2016 | Philadelphia, PA
Setting up a release
In the studio
Prepare for mastering
Production work
8. Submit musical works info to your PRO
6. Type out lyrics
7. Design artwork, including all credits
10. Submit new release info to SoundScan
9. Submit sound recordings to SoundExchange
12. Submit bio/info to Rovi
13. Register with US Copyright Office
14. Data, artwork, music to aggregator
*15. Other sites/platforms
Music Biz Metadata Style Guide
1. Credits: keep track of everyone’s
roles & contributions
2. Song titles, album titles, credits,
properly spelled
3. Acquire ISRC codes for each track
11. New release info to Mediabase and BDS
Databases for recognition
Prepare for release
4. UPC barcode for the assembled product
ISWC codes assigned
5. ISNI number for author/individual
Definition The “Trinity”
ISRC and UPC now required
Metadata
All that information that describes and identifies your music. 

• Text: composer and musicians’ names, dates, genre

• Numeric identifiers: UPC barcodes, ISRC codes 

As music landscape becomes more digital and global,
proper metadata is an increasingly important part of your
release workflow.
Table of contents
ISWC ISRC
ISNI
Musical work Sound recording
Creator
Table of contents
ISWC ISRC
ISNI
Musical work Sound recording
Creator
UPC barcode
Assembled product
Table of contents
In the studio
STUDIO AND RECORDING SESSION DETAILS
Studio name(s)
Date(s) of recording session
Location (city, country) of recording studio(s)
Personnel working on the session
Executive producer

Producer

Engineer(s)
Arranger

Conductor

Remixer
Mixing

Mastering
Do any producers have deal points?
Table of contents
In the studio
COMPOSER/SONGWRITER DETAILS FOR EACH TRACK
Names of songwriters/composers
What they wrote (music, beats, lyrics)
What % of credit they get for their contribution (aka splits)
Name of each songwriter’s publishing company
Which PRO they belong to (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, other)
Table of contents
Each songwriters’ ISNI number (if they have one)
In the studio
RECORDING ARTIST DETAILS FOR EACH TRACK
Names of featured artists/performers
What they performed or instrument they played
What % of credit they get for their contribution (aka splits)
Table of contents
Each artists’ ISNI number (if they have one)
In the studio
SESSION PLAYER/FREELANCERS FOR EACH TRACK
Names of any session players/session vocalists/freelancers
What they performed or instrument they played
Whether they belong to a union (AFM or SAG-AFTRA),
and their local number
Whether this recording session is a union session
Table of contents
In the studio
LICENSES, PERMISSIONS and AGREEMENTS
Did you record any covers? Secure mechanical licenses
Did you use any samples? Get clearances
Various agreements
• Intra-band agreement that spells out creator splits

• Producer agreement

• Side artists’ agreements
Table of contents
P+E Wing credits list
Table of contents
Song data tracking workbook
from Music Business Toolbox

This template and related 

pre-release checklists will be
available in March 2016
Table of contents
Preparation for mastering
ISRC codes for each track
UPC barcode for the assembled product
Mastering engineer will need text-based data:
Album title

Song titles

Artist name
Mastering engineer would also like to have:
Table of contents
Sample mastering dashboard Table of contents
ISRC codes
Set of numbers that identify a unique sound recording
Become a registrant at US ISRC http://usisrc.org. 

$80 to become a registrant with your own prefix.
Get ISRCs assigned for free/nominal cost from your aggregator.
US Z10 16 12345
Country Company

prefix
Year Unique digits
- or -
If you are on an indie label, your label will generate
the ISRC codes using their prefix number.
Table of contents
http://musicbiz.org/press-releases/music-biz-explains-isrc/ Table of contents
http://usisrc.org Table of contents
How to get ISRCs from CD Baby (video tutorial) Table of contents
UPC barcodes
Set of numbers that identify a packaged collection of music
71875 188282-9
Become a registrant at GS1 http://www.gs1us.org/
Get UPC barcode assigned for free/nominal cost from your
aggregator (CD Baby, TuneCore, Ditto, DistroKid, etc).
- or -
If you are on an indie label, your label will generate
the barcode.
Table of contents
http://www.gs1us.org/ Table of contents
ISRC and UPC
Mastering engineer can embed the ISRC on each track.
Write down your tracks’ ISRCs. You’ll need to enter
them in other places.
Mastering engineer can also embed UPC barcode.
Both ISRC and UPC are now required for iTunes store, 

and many other digital platforms.
Write down your UPC barcode. You’ll reference it again
Table of contents
ISNI
Set of 16 numbers that identify an individual creative entity
Helps to match works to proper person

John Williams composer vs. John Williams guitarist
0000 0001 2347 9198
ISNI for John Williams the composer for Star Wars and many other movie soundtracks
Table of contents
International Standard Name Identifier
Helps with creators who work in more than one field

Brian May: composer, guitarist, scientist, author
isni.org Table of contents
Production work
If applicable, type out your lyrics
• For artwork

• For your website
Album artwork
• Album name

• Song titles

• Writer credits 

(including PRO and publisher)

• Performer credits, including any
session players or freelancers

• Recording studio name, location,
date, personnel

P
• For lyric videos

• Can be submitted via your
publisher to lyric sites
• Record label (even if it’s yourself)

• Copyright notice © and 

• UPC barcode image on physical
releases 

• Other credits: photographer, illustrator,
etc.

• If relevant, timed length of songs
Table of contents
PRO submissions
Composers/songwriters: submit information about your
musical compositions to your PRO
• Register your new titles with ASCAP, BMI or SESAC

• Free to do if you are already a PRO writer/publisher
member

• Your PRO will automatically assign ISWC codes to
your new titles
Table of contents
BMI works registration Table of contents
ISWC codes
Set of numbers that identify a composition
T-070.076.790-3
Assigned by your PRO (ASCAP, BMI or SESAC) when
you submit information about your works
Keep track of your ISWCs with your other data
“Hotel California” by Don Felder, Glenn Frey, Don Henley
Table of contents
ASCAP ACE search Table of contents
SoundExchange
Submit information about your sound recordings to
SoundExchange
• Free to join

• SoundExchange has an online interface and
a repertoire template to make it easy to
submit info

• Tracks digital performances on Sirius XM,
Pandora, any webcast stations
Table of contentsSoundExchange
http://register.soundexchange.com/welcome Table of contents
SoundExchange data
What SoundExchange needs
• Artist

• Track title

• Album title

• Record label

• % of the Featured Artist
Performance Royalty that you
claim (aka, your split)

• Do you own the master sound
recording of this track? Y/N

Improve music identification
by also including:

• ISRC for each track

• Album UPC

• Release date

• Recording location

• Distributor 

(if different from label name)

• Publisher
Alternate spellings? Different languages? Talk to SoundExchange
Table of contents
SoundScan/BDS/Mediabase
Submit your release information to Nielsen SoundScan
• Free to do

• Online form at SoundScan

• SoundScan tracks retail sales, including downloads from iTunes,
Amazon, CD Baby, Bandcamp, and streams on major sites
Submit your release information to Mediabase
(owned by Clear Channel) and Nielsen BDS
• Free to do

• Online forms available for both Mediabase and BDS

• Both services track commercial radio airplay
Table of contents
http://titlereg.soundscan.com/soundscantitlereg/ Table of contents
http://www.mediabase.com/mmrweb/NewMusic.asp Table of contents
Search for “Nielsen BDS how to submit music” Table of contents
Rovi/AMG
Submit your bio and data to Rovi for All Music Guide
• Free to do

• Need to mail a CD + bio

• Powers the bios you see on iTunes, Pandora. 

• AMG is very selective. Acceptance by Rovi/AMG is
not guaranteed
Table of contents
http://www.allmusic.com/product-submissions Table of contents
US Copyright Office
Register your works with the US Copyright Office
• Under US law, copyright is automatically granted when
you create the original work or “fix” it to a medium, like
tape or hard drive

• Use Form SR or Form PA to establish a public record of
creation

• Official registration provides creators with more legal
protections in event of infringement
Table of contents
http://copyright.gov/eco/ Table of contents
Deliveries to aggregator
Data, artwork and music delivered to your aggregator
• Give yourself enough time to do this right

• Fill in as many descriptive fields as possible to increase
searchability and proper attribution

• Spellcheck everything!

• Use consistent spelling, capitalizations 

(see Music Biz's Music Metadata Style Guide)
Your aggregator will deliver to dozens of digital retail
stores, streaming services, and discovery platforms.
Table of contents
Deliveries to aggregator
What data aggregators need
• Artist name

• Album title 

• Song titles

• Are any of the songs
covers?

• Names of songwriters

• Label name (even if it’s your
name)

• Catalog number (if applicable)

• ISRC for each track, or have
them assigned by aggregator

• UPC barcode for album, or
purchase one from aggregator

• Release date

• Primary genre, secondary
genre

• Artist location

Table of contents
http://musicbiz.org/knowledge/whitepapers/ Table of contents
Other sites
• Populate your other platforms with the same data,
artwork and music 

• Give yourself enough time to do this right

• Fill in as many descriptive fields as possible to increase
searchability and proper attribution

• Spellcheck everything!

• Use consistent spelling, capitalizations 

(see Music Biz's Music Metadata Style Guide)
Bandcamp + your own website + social media
Table of contents
Takeaways
Ultimately, it is the artists’ responsibility to document
creators and contributions
Be consistent with spelling, diligent with data entry
Metadata is the text and numbers that uniquely
describe and identify your music
Metadata is increasingly important. It underlies
discoverability, proper attribution and payment across
an increasing number of platforms
Presented at 

University of the Arts

February 3, 2016 | Philadelphia, PA Table of contents

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Metadata for musicians: setting up release

  • 1. Metadata for musicians Click here for Table of contents Presented at 
 University of the Arts
 February 3, 2016 | Philadelphia, PA Setting up a release
  • 2. In the studio Prepare for mastering Production work 8. Submit musical works info to your PRO 6. Type out lyrics 7. Design artwork, including all credits 10. Submit new release info to SoundScan 9. Submit sound recordings to SoundExchange 12. Submit bio/info to Rovi 13. Register with US Copyright Office 14. Data, artwork, music to aggregator *15. Other sites/platforms Music Biz Metadata Style Guide 1. Credits: keep track of everyone’s roles & contributions 2. Song titles, album titles, credits, properly spelled 3. Acquire ISRC codes for each track 11. New release info to Mediabase and BDS Databases for recognition Prepare for release 4. UPC barcode for the assembled product ISWC codes assigned 5. ISNI number for author/individual Definition The “Trinity” ISRC and UPC now required
  • 3. Metadata All that information that describes and identifies your music. • Text: composer and musicians’ names, dates, genre • Numeric identifiers: UPC barcodes, ISRC codes As music landscape becomes more digital and global, proper metadata is an increasingly important part of your release workflow. Table of contents
  • 4. ISWC ISRC ISNI Musical work Sound recording Creator Table of contents
  • 5. ISWC ISRC ISNI Musical work Sound recording Creator UPC barcode Assembled product Table of contents
  • 6. In the studio STUDIO AND RECORDING SESSION DETAILS Studio name(s) Date(s) of recording session Location (city, country) of recording studio(s) Personnel working on the session Executive producer Producer Engineer(s) Arranger Conductor Remixer Mixing Mastering Do any producers have deal points? Table of contents
  • 7. In the studio COMPOSER/SONGWRITER DETAILS FOR EACH TRACK Names of songwriters/composers What they wrote (music, beats, lyrics) What % of credit they get for their contribution (aka splits) Name of each songwriter’s publishing company Which PRO they belong to (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, other) Table of contents Each songwriters’ ISNI number (if they have one)
  • 8. In the studio RECORDING ARTIST DETAILS FOR EACH TRACK Names of featured artists/performers What they performed or instrument they played What % of credit they get for their contribution (aka splits) Table of contents Each artists’ ISNI number (if they have one)
  • 9. In the studio SESSION PLAYER/FREELANCERS FOR EACH TRACK Names of any session players/session vocalists/freelancers What they performed or instrument they played Whether they belong to a union (AFM or SAG-AFTRA), and their local number Whether this recording session is a union session Table of contents
  • 10. In the studio LICENSES, PERMISSIONS and AGREEMENTS Did you record any covers? Secure mechanical licenses Did you use any samples? Get clearances Various agreements • Intra-band agreement that spells out creator splits • Producer agreement • Side artists’ agreements Table of contents
  • 11. P+E Wing credits list Table of contents
  • 12. Song data tracking workbook from Music Business Toolbox This template and related 
 pre-release checklists will be available in March 2016 Table of contents
  • 13. Preparation for mastering ISRC codes for each track UPC barcode for the assembled product Mastering engineer will need text-based data: Album title Song titles Artist name Mastering engineer would also like to have: Table of contents
  • 14. Sample mastering dashboard Table of contents
  • 15. ISRC codes Set of numbers that identify a unique sound recording Become a registrant at US ISRC http://usisrc.org. 
 $80 to become a registrant with your own prefix. Get ISRCs assigned for free/nominal cost from your aggregator. US Z10 16 12345 Country Company prefix Year Unique digits - or - If you are on an indie label, your label will generate the ISRC codes using their prefix number. Table of contents
  • 18. How to get ISRCs from CD Baby (video tutorial) Table of contents
  • 19. UPC barcodes Set of numbers that identify a packaged collection of music 71875 188282-9 Become a registrant at GS1 http://www.gs1us.org/ Get UPC barcode assigned for free/nominal cost from your aggregator (CD Baby, TuneCore, Ditto, DistroKid, etc). - or - If you are on an indie label, your label will generate the barcode. Table of contents
  • 21. ISRC and UPC Mastering engineer can embed the ISRC on each track. Write down your tracks’ ISRCs. You’ll need to enter them in other places. Mastering engineer can also embed UPC barcode. Both ISRC and UPC are now required for iTunes store, 
 and many other digital platforms. Write down your UPC barcode. You’ll reference it again Table of contents
  • 22. ISNI Set of 16 numbers that identify an individual creative entity Helps to match works to proper person
 John Williams composer vs. John Williams guitarist 0000 0001 2347 9198 ISNI for John Williams the composer for Star Wars and many other movie soundtracks Table of contents International Standard Name Identifier Helps with creators who work in more than one field
 Brian May: composer, guitarist, scientist, author
  • 23. isni.org Table of contents
  • 24. Production work If applicable, type out your lyrics • For artwork • For your website Album artwork • Album name • Song titles • Writer credits 
 (including PRO and publisher) • Performer credits, including any session players or freelancers • Recording studio name, location, date, personnel P • For lyric videos • Can be submitted via your publisher to lyric sites • Record label (even if it’s yourself) • Copyright notice © and • UPC barcode image on physical releases • Other credits: photographer, illustrator, etc. • If relevant, timed length of songs Table of contents
  • 25. PRO submissions Composers/songwriters: submit information about your musical compositions to your PRO • Register your new titles with ASCAP, BMI or SESAC • Free to do if you are already a PRO writer/publisher member • Your PRO will automatically assign ISWC codes to your new titles Table of contents
  • 26. BMI works registration Table of contents
  • 27. ISWC codes Set of numbers that identify a composition T-070.076.790-3 Assigned by your PRO (ASCAP, BMI or SESAC) when you submit information about your works Keep track of your ISWCs with your other data “Hotel California” by Don Felder, Glenn Frey, Don Henley Table of contents
  • 28. ASCAP ACE search Table of contents
  • 29. SoundExchange Submit information about your sound recordings to SoundExchange • Free to join • SoundExchange has an online interface and a repertoire template to make it easy to submit info • Tracks digital performances on Sirius XM, Pandora, any webcast stations Table of contentsSoundExchange
  • 31. SoundExchange data What SoundExchange needs • Artist • Track title • Album title • Record label • % of the Featured Artist Performance Royalty that you claim (aka, your split) • Do you own the master sound recording of this track? Y/N Improve music identification by also including: • ISRC for each track • Album UPC • Release date • Recording location • Distributor 
 (if different from label name) • Publisher Alternate spellings? Different languages? Talk to SoundExchange Table of contents
  • 32. SoundScan/BDS/Mediabase Submit your release information to Nielsen SoundScan • Free to do • Online form at SoundScan • SoundScan tracks retail sales, including downloads from iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, Bandcamp, and streams on major sites Submit your release information to Mediabase (owned by Clear Channel) and Nielsen BDS • Free to do • Online forms available for both Mediabase and BDS • Both services track commercial radio airplay Table of contents
  • 35. Search for “Nielsen BDS how to submit music” Table of contents
  • 36. Rovi/AMG Submit your bio and data to Rovi for All Music Guide • Free to do • Need to mail a CD + bio • Powers the bios you see on iTunes, Pandora. • AMG is very selective. Acceptance by Rovi/AMG is not guaranteed Table of contents
  • 38. US Copyright Office Register your works with the US Copyright Office • Under US law, copyright is automatically granted when you create the original work or “fix” it to a medium, like tape or hard drive • Use Form SR or Form PA to establish a public record of creation • Official registration provides creators with more legal protections in event of infringement Table of contents
  • 40. Deliveries to aggregator Data, artwork and music delivered to your aggregator • Give yourself enough time to do this right • Fill in as many descriptive fields as possible to increase searchability and proper attribution • Spellcheck everything! • Use consistent spelling, capitalizations 
 (see Music Biz's Music Metadata Style Guide) Your aggregator will deliver to dozens of digital retail stores, streaming services, and discovery platforms. Table of contents
  • 41. Deliveries to aggregator What data aggregators need • Artist name • Album title • Song titles • Are any of the songs covers? • Names of songwriters • Label name (even if it’s your name) • Catalog number (if applicable) • ISRC for each track, or have them assigned by aggregator • UPC barcode for album, or purchase one from aggregator • Release date • Primary genre, secondary genre • Artist location
 Table of contents
  • 43. Other sites • Populate your other platforms with the same data, artwork and music • Give yourself enough time to do this right • Fill in as many descriptive fields as possible to increase searchability and proper attribution • Spellcheck everything! • Use consistent spelling, capitalizations 
 (see Music Biz's Music Metadata Style Guide) Bandcamp + your own website + social media Table of contents
  • 44. Takeaways Ultimately, it is the artists’ responsibility to document creators and contributions Be consistent with spelling, diligent with data entry Metadata is the text and numbers that uniquely describe and identify your music Metadata is increasingly important. It underlies discoverability, proper attribution and payment across an increasing number of platforms Presented at 
 University of the Arts
 February 3, 2016 | Philadelphia, PA Table of contents