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A woman in a purple shirt with dreadlocks and a hat. A woman in a purple shirt with dreadlocks and a hat.

Music metadata

3 min read

What is metadata?

Metadata is information about creators, other rights holders, musical works, and sound recordings.

When we talk about metadata, we mean the information about a , a , and other , that describes their characteristics and the roles of various contributors.

In many countries, that information may be protected separately under as and can be embedded in .

What is metadata?

Metadata means data about data and can include many different pieces of information, and while descriptive metadata is the most common form, there are four different categories to be aware of.

Descriptive Metadata

This type of metadata is the detail about the musical work and sound recording. A lot, but not all, of this metadata will be accessible to listeners, and can include:

  • title

  • - both main and secondary

  • Title of the album, EP, or

  • Original year of release

  • Genre

  • length

  • Music and vocal

  • and mastering studios

  • Equipment used

Rights Metadata

Rights metadata refers to the information about who the rights holders are, their , and their share of the .

This type of metadata includes:

  • Names and details of rights holders, their identifiers such as , or , key identifiers for the musical work and sound recording such as the and

  • The rights holder’s percentage ownership or royalty .

Some of this information may be confidential, such as ownership percentages and splits, and not all of it is available to the public.

Read more about IPIs, IPNs, ISNIs, ISWCs, and ISRCs on our Identifiers page.

Performance or usage metadata

Performance or usage metadata refers to the usage of musical works and sound recordings. It includes such things as, but not limited to:

  • Number of streams, downloads, or sales

  • Amount of radio airplay

  • Time of day of TV performances

Recommendation Metadata

This is a newer type of metadata, sometimes also called secondary metadata, and is primarily used by to recommend , creators, and to listeners. Each DSP has a different approach to recommendation metadata, so there’s no one set list of data points, but it could include such things as:

  • Genre

  • Mood

  • Tempo

  • Language

Why is metadata so important?

By providing the metadata, including key identifiers, about musical works and sound recordings, all creators can be properly , music can be accurately tracked, and rights holders can receive accurate payments for the use of their musical works and sound recordings.

Metadata is also important for music listeners when it comes to discovering music. When a listener searches for a particular on a streaming site, for example, it’s thanks to the correct metadata that the right song appears for them to play. And when that listener is suggested new music they might like, it’s metadata that is used to make accurate and relevant recommendations.

Video credit: Tiffany Orvet, Daniel Sundström, Eric Ivar Persson, David Wells, Tobias Leo Nordquist, Ponny Höijer, William Engström, Parapix