Metadata is the Biggest Little Problem Plaguing the Music Industry
Thursday May 30, 2019. 10:50 PM , from Slashdot/Apple
From a report: Recently, a musician signed to a major indie label told me they were owed up to $40,000 in song royalties they would never be able to collect. It wasn't that they had missed out on payments for a single song -- it was that they had missed out on payments for 70 songs, going back at least six years. The problem, they said, was metadata. In the music world, metadata most commonly refers to the song credits you see on services like Spotify or Apple Music, but it also includes all the underlying information tied to a released song or album, including titles, songwriter and producer names, the publisher(s), the record label, and more. That information needs to be synchronized across all kinds of industry databases to make sure that when you play a song, the right people are identified and paid. And often, they aren't.
Metadata sounds like one of the smallest, most boring things in music. But as it turns out, it's one of the most important, complex, and broken, leaving many musicians unable to get paid for their work. 'Every second that goes by and it's not fixed, I'm dripping pennies,' said the musician. Entering the correct information about a song sounds like it should be easy enough, but metadata problems have plagued the music industry for decades. Not only are there no standards for how music metadata is collected or displayed, there's no need to verify the accuracy of a song's metadata before it gets released, and there's no one place where music metadata is stored. Instead, fractions of that data is kept in hundreds of different places across the world. As a result, the problem is way bigger than a name being misspelled when you click a song's credits on Spotify. Missing, bad, or inconsistent song metadata is a crisis that has left, by some estimations, billions on the table that never gets paid to the artists who earned that money.
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