Free the Music Metadata!

So if you read my last post about the SFMusicTech, you know that I’m back on a music metadata kick.  While I’m sure I was a little more in-tuned to it because of work that I am doing with one of my clients, it seems like I heard ‘if we just had the metadata’ a lot at this conference.  This is something that I have been thinking about for a long time (lets say since 2007 when I first registered the, so I’m going to try and pull my current thoughts together around this.

So to begin with, what is this magical metadata, and how does it help us?  The short answer is it’s the information about all the music you like to listen to – the track title, artist, release year, genre, etc.  How does this help us?  It depends on who you are.  If you are a music consumer, it can help you find what you want to listen to, as well as learn interesting facts about that music and perhaps find cool related music.  If you are an artist or label, proper metadata helps get you paid.  In this digital age, where we are buying or renting (streaming) ‘bits’ instead of plastic discs, payment comes from identifying and reporting on these tracks; this is why you will find a lot of passion in the industry about proper metadata.

So whats the problem then?  The problem is that currently there is no authoritative, freely available source of metadata that is used across the industry.  Currently there are many islands of metadata controlled by different organizations with different agendas; generally this data is hard to obtain, and once obtained, there is no good way to tie it all together.

So whats the solution?  I think it really comes down to follow the money.  Currently there is a lot of money clogging up the system, both figuratively  and literally.  By providing a way to make this money flow more effectively, we may be able to fix the problem.  The challenge is there are incumbents that would rather sit on this money, and it is going to take a bit of both carrot and stick in order to get them to move.

I’m going to further explain and explore possible solutions to this problem over the next couple of posts.  In the meantime, join the conversation.  Is this a problem that only a few of us metadata geeks care about, or is this a larger problem that needs solving?

About Craig Huizenga

Geek, dad, entrepreneur, cook, wood worker, cyclist, and music freak. View all posts by Craig Huizenga

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