The rock ‘n’ roll approach to metadata

Friday June 14, 2013

By Steve Redmond

Has technology opened up a new avenue for rock 'n' roll rebellion? If so, it's surely the daftest one yet. I'm talking metadata, the information accompanying digital entertainment files which ensures consumers find what they want, digital retailers can properly manage their stores - and that the right people get paid.

Retailers have long complained about poor, sometimes non-existent, metadata coming from record companies, resulting in grief, confusion and frustration for both vendor and consumer. The acerbic commentators at Digital Music News have recently had fun with the topic, naming Rod Stewart ( here) and 30 Seconds To Mars ( here) as particular offenders.

The point is that without accurate data, the database which is the beating heart of every
digital music service is pretty much useless.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that a retail-focused organisation, ERA's sister US organisation NARM, has come up with probably the first "style guide" yet for artists and musicians to help them ensure their metadata is in shape. (You can download it here)

There was a flurry of media interest in it this week as journalists had fun with the idea that rock 'n' rollers, long bemoaned by teachers as enemies of grammar and spelling, are finally getting their act together. But renowned record producer Don Was, while supporting the idea in principle, was quoted as a sceptic. "Artists are there to break rules," he said. "That's kind of at the core of rock 'n' roll." 

Which when you think about it has to be one of the dumbest statements uttered on the subject so far.

Self-destructive behaviour is no stranger to the music world. But shouldn't someone explain to them that if you don't get your metadata sorted, you might not get paid. Deliberately ensuring or recklessly ignoring whether you get paid for your work is not "rock 'n'
roll". It's nuts.

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