What Is Metadata and Why Is It Important?

Metadata is an important element in staying organized online. You may or may not have heard the term, but it’s so important for each and every musician releasing music, and it is something being spoken about in the media more every day.

If you upload your music through Spinnup (you may not know what the term means but we’ll take care of that for you) but you’ll definitely be supplying us with the information that makes up the metadata encoded in your digital files.


What is metadata?

 The best way to think of metadata — when it comes to music at least — is that it’s like the modern equivalent of the liner notes that are printed on vinyl sleeves and CD booklets. But instead of simply providing information about the recording to the listener, it’s used to relay all information to distributors, retailers, consumers and anyone else using the music like DJs and broadcasters.

It’s information that is hardcoded within digital music files, meaning that wherever the files go, the information is carried with them. You could also think of it as a musical tattoo of sorts. The kind that’s unique to each individual track ever released.

Metadata also includes ISRC and UPC codes, each of which are assigned to your music when you make a release. At Spinnup we will assign ISRC and UPC codes to your music, or you can use your own, for example, if you have distributed your release previously with another distributor.

An ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) is a 12-digit number code assigned to all tracks and is designed to help you track sales and radio station play. So, wherever your track is being played around the world, you can easily track it through your ISRC code.

A UPC (Universal Product Code) is also a 12-digit code used to help track your music but is for the overall product or body of work, like an EP or album. For example, if you released a one-track single, you would be assigned one ISRC and one UPC. For a five-track EP, you would get five ISRC codes and one UPC.


Metadata and royalties

Importantly, it also makes sure that you get paid when your music is used. The unique data codes that identify your tracks are logged whenever the track is used so that the retailer or broadcaster who sells or plays it automatically can collate this usage information and pass it on to the release in question’s distributor and their local performing rights society.

No metadata = no royalties!


How Spinnup uses your metadata

When you upload your tracks to Spinnup, we’ll ask you for information that forms part of the track and releases metadata. Things like track and artist names, songwriter info, genre, and language. We then encode this information into files themselves, ready to send to retailers and streaming platforms. That’s also why it’s so important that you check the information you add, and then check it once more as it’s really hard to change once your release has been distributed.


Check out the gallery below to see what information is required:




As you can see, it covers all the essential information that will help you and the featured artists and writers get paid, as well as all the bits retailers and streaming platforms need to be able to correctly categorize and promote your release.

It might sound boring; it might sound scary, but accurate metadata is what keeps the digital music world ticking, and what makes sure you get paid when your music is used.

Be sure to read our other articles on how you can access your data online: Apple Music For Artists and Spotify For Artists