This review originally appeared in our sister magazine, Mix.
Album credits, which were once readily available on vinyl and CDs, have become casualties of the music-streaming world. It was the sole way of building your resumé and establishing a connection to a project for later remuneration, and awards. Since the credit stream withered, the Recording Academy’s Producers & Engineers Wing and other organizations have been working on standardization and implementation of a solution.
Soundways RIN-M software is an elegant and free way to collect credits and session technical info as metadata for pushing down production and sales streams. Hot on the heels of the latest version of the RIN standard that was just published last year comes RIN-M, a DAW-agnostic plug-in, or standalone software, designed specifically for this purpose.
RIN is the acronym for Recording Information Notification – a standard created by DDEX for the purpose of documenting recording session and music project information as metadata to be used along the audio production supply chain. DDEX was formed in 2006 by a group of media companies, digital service providers and music licensing organizations with the intent of setting standards for communicating information on products including creator credits, sales information and ownership.
The RIN-M plug-in brings this standard directly into any DAW where recording professionals, including engineers, assistant engineers, producers, recording artists and musicians, can capture, store and export essential data for every song in a project.
RIN-M is a single-screen plug-in that may be instanced on a track in any DAW. RIN-M works on Mac and PC in AAX, AU and VST formats. Minimum system requirements include Mac OSX 10.8 or Windows 7 with Pro Tools 10 or any VST2, VST3 or AU host. I tested the RIN-M plug-in in Pro Tools 12.8.1.
The best practice for RIN-M is to have a dedicated instance for each song in a project. Common data such as the names of players and creators can be easily imported to other RIN-M plug-in instances in the project, making it easier to use as each song/ session is created and moves through production.
The interface is very intuitive and breaks down into three basic sections. The topmost section is for the Artist and Song Title. At the bottom is more global information, such as the song’s ISRC and ISWC codes, original and final audio file formats and sample rates, and information about whether the project contains pre-recorded samples.
The middle of the plug-in is where you will spend most of your time. This section allows you to easily add players’ names, addresses, ISNI codes and more. Here you would also define their roles in the project by type and category, flagging the person as an engineer, performer, manager, producer, distributor, media company, label and more.
Next, you would save the person’s profile, which now lives in the plug-in and on your system, making it easier for you to recall them into the next song and project. RIN-M grows as you use it.
One of the most important features of RIN-M is the inclusion of ISRC, ISWC and ISNI codes in the data stream. Tutorials on these codes and information on how to obtain them are linked to the bottom of the plug-in from the Get Codes button. The button takes you to Soundways’ website, where you can obtain a free e/iBook and product manual that helps you learn and understand more about DDEX, RIN, ISRC, ISWC and ISNI.
WHERE DOES THE DATA GO?
While RIN and the RIN-M plug-in represent a major development for our industry, there is still work to do at the label end. Major labels already use the DDEX ERN (Electronic Release Notification) standard. RIN itself is a new standard, just published in October.
I talked to Tony Brooke, RIN developer and Product Specialist Content Operations at Pandora, who said that some labels (including one of the majors) are working on the ability to ingest the RIN file, the same type exported via RIN-M. Although they have not given an ETA, the major label has been a significant part of the DDEX working group that developed RIN and is partway through development of ingestion.
Today, RIN can’t yet be ingested by the labels. However, they will collect and hold them for later ingestion. Data such as credits and services are often added well after the first street date of a release. For example, Pandora receives a constant flow of DDEX ERN “update messages” to adjust that information—change rights, correct mistakes and make other alterations after the initial delivery of an album/single.
Brooke’s educated guess is that we will see other players step up soon. The “mini-majors” have resources to improve their automated data ingestion and can move more nimbly than the majors can. Also, “artist aggregators” such as CD Baby, Distrokid, TuneCore, Believe and others have UIs that allow automated submission of albums one track at a time. This is a logical place to add the ability to upload a RIN. But all of these players have a vested interest in reducing their manual data entry labor costs, and RIN is a perfect way to do that. RIN can save labels money, which is the best incentive for making this all work.
WHERE TO NOW?
While RIN-M is free, there is a PRO version now in development that will contain additional options at a very affordable price tag. The point is to help Soundways offset development and marketing costs; RIN-M has been completely out of pocket for the Memphis-based company.
Downloading and using the plug-in is a must for all audio engineers, songwriters and producers—whether they’re involved in recording, mixing, mastering or post-production. Robust metadata collection from the beginning of the production path establishes a connection between the creators and the owners of the work, and the many streaming and sales services downstream. Get RIN-M, use it often, export your metadata, and get in the habit of sending it along with your session and files. How much can you hate money?