If one googles “Music Metadata”, the first results talk about ID3. This is not what this article is about. It is about money.

Metadata Collects

The term “metadata” became really popular in the last years, though very little has actually really changed. But the term became popular because creators, publishers, and labels realized that it is the “metadata” that collects royalties, not “music”.

We should really talk about “metaprocess”, the process of how metadata gets created. I’ll explain why. But, for some reason, we rarely do. I’ll explain it as well. But first, I will explain what music metadata is.

When we talk about music, we really talk about two things, musical works (compositions and lyrics) and recordings (which includes “live” streaming of performances). Recordings are based on musical works. Sometimes finished musical works are recorded, sometimes they come into being at the same time, but in all those cases, musical works are the foundation, not the other way around. This is important.

Metadata of a musical work includes the data about the work itself, title at least, and data about the authors. It can also include data about other right-holders (mostly publishers), as well as agreements (contracts) between them. There is a similar situation when it comes to recordings. With one huge difference. Recording metadata should include metadata about the underlying musical works. Not the other way around. And this is also important.

Recordsings Must Reference Works

The reason why it should be this way and not the other way around is that the data, at least in it’s basic and unchanging form, about the underlying musical work(s) could exist at the moment the recording is made. For musical work metadata to include the data on all the recordings it is going to be used in the future, one would have to know the future. So, recordings can and should reference works, not the other way around.

So, the big question, for the writers and publishers at least, the penultimate question, why this is not the case, should be asked. And then what we should do so it would be the case ASAP. And the answers to both questions are quite simple: Someone has been f***ing up. Make them stop doing that.

But, as we don’t live in a world where simple answers are taken seriously, I’ll have to do it the long way. For my standards, not the usual ones. It will still take several articles. If you are interested in the “who”, just have a look at my other articles. Or just follow the money.


I’ll get back to this as well, but these articles will mostly be about the “metaprocess” - the proper process of metadata generation. And specifically, what it should look like and how (relatively simple it is to) make it work from an IT perspective. And who stands in the way of making it work.

Still, the simple version should go like this. Metadata gets created as music gets created. Whether it is blockchain or central ledger once it is created and hits the market and new interested parties are added to various chains, is really not that important. But I’ll get back to this as well.