File Under: Creating and Making Your Music, Releasing and Selling Your Music

You never know where your music may wind up once you release it into the world. While much of your music today may be distributed through Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music, Pandora, and other streaming services, if you encode MP3s yourself, there are a few tips you should follow to ensure your MP3s lead your listeners back to you, your website, and more. This applies to your all of your demos as well as your final releases because you never know if one of them could fall into a fan's hands.

When listeners play your music through services like Spotify or purchase it at iTunes or other stores, your artist name, album, song title come up in the player. These music distribution services often pull this data about your music from your digital distributor or a specific set of databases such as MusicBrainz, Discogs, Gracenote and more (see our Electronic Musician Master Class article, Credits Where Credits Are Due).

But, if you release your music directly on your own, for direct sale or giveaway, then you'll want to "tatoo" your tracks with identifiable information about your music. This means you'll want to name and tag your files correctly so listener's players will display critical information about your track. To do this, you need to add the song title, artist name, and other data about the track through a metadata layer call, ID3 tags.

These ID3 tags turn out to be critically important for musicians, although some artists skip tagging the music they give out. This is a big mistake. We have songs in our own personal music collections which we love, but have no idea who the bands are because they neglected to name or tag their music correctly.

Here’s how to prepare your MP3 files for release:

1. Tagging your MP3s

You can use standard MP3 players like iTunes to input data into your MP3 file's ID3 fields, but there are special tags that the standard players may not always set for you. For example, it’s a good idea to embed the ISRC code for your track into the file, but that may not be possible to do with a standard player. The more advanced tools like Tag & Rename from Softpointer or Jaikoz can tag this information as well as a lot more.

Below are some of the actual ID3 field names we recommend filling out:

  • Album/Movie/Show title
  • Title/songname/content description
  • Subtitle/Description refinement
  • Composer
  • Copyright message
  • Content type
  • File type
  • URL Frame: Copyright/Legal information
  • URL Frame: Official artist/performer webpage
  • URL Frame: Official audio source webpage
  • Attached picture (include the album cover, or an avatar that represents your band)
  • ISRC Code
  • Comment

For the comment field, we recommend using this to include your website URL and contact info so that they can get in touch with you.

2. Name your MP3s correctly

Name your MP3 file so it emphasizes your artist or band name first. The format we suggest for all your MP3s is: "Artist Name-Song Title.mp3". You'll want to avoid special characters, punctuation, questions marks, apostrophes and quotes since many operating systems have trouble displaying filenames with these characters. Additionally, you may want to replace spaces with underscores. Most importantly, make sure you spell everything correctly!

Tagging and naming your MP3s you sell directly or giveaway can help make it easier your music to lead them back to you. And keep in mind it's more than fans that are interested in your music. Music supervisors also run across MP3s and you'll want to make sure that they have the info to find you if they want to license your music.


#tagging #ID3 #tags #namingstandards #tatoo #creatingyourmusic

Photo credit: Micael Faccio