It may well have passed you by, but The Music Business Association have just launched the Metadata Style Guide Version 2.
The Metadata Style Guide is super import to the evolution of metadata, and how we use it as an industry. Previously, it was just iTunes that had set out their style guide, but the MBA are working with many different companies across the industry – including Google, The Orchard, Spotify, CI, iTunes and Harry Fox Agency – to create a single style guide for the whole industry. This is great, since everyone is agreeing on how metadata should be formatted, it makes it far easier for labels supplying this data through to DSPs to know how they’ll be using that data.
The guide also includes a lot of technical points about the usage of certain aspects in the DDEX XML standard. Currently, there are quite a few different implementations of the DDEX standard, with the standard allowing for different ways of structuring the same information, so the MBA’s attempt here to spell out exactly how data should be structured I’m sure will be well received by newcomers to the DDEX standard.
What Does it Actually Say?
So getting into the nitty gritty of the Style Guide, what does it actually tell us? It covers everything from the very simple – ensuring Label Name an P Lines are included – to the more complex in structuring titles and artist names to ensure your releases are properly presented at DSPs.
We see that there are three key areas for rights holders to really get to grips with from the Style Guide – once you’ve got these nailed, you’ll just need to
- Titles – one of the most difficult areas to get correct, there are a lot of rules and exceptions that you should ensure whoever is managing your metadata knows like the back of their hand
- Artists – avoiding compound artists and knowing where and when to use Various Artists is essential in making sure your artists and releases are properly displayed and go live in store on time
- Asset Management – making sure you’re storing everything in reusable formats. The Guide gives some in depth analysis here
Interestingly, genres have never been tackled by any of the standards, instead leaving it to retailers to manage these themselves. This does make some sense though, as managing something that’s as fast moving as genres by committee would mean that some genres would have been and gone by the time the committee got to adding them.
The Metadata Style Guide follow suit here, and simply points to the Wikipedia music genre page for genre guidance. We do think that there is room for at least a headline 20 primary genres list to be standardised at some point, leaving room for the the much more nuanced sub-genres to sit alongside them.
What Does This Mean for You?
This updated Style Guide doesn’t bring with it huge changes, there are some slight alterations and additions, but it won’t require you to drastically change the way you’re currently managing things. If you’ve never actually read any of the previous style guides, now may be the time for you to start to get familiar.
For our loyal Metable users, you’ll see an update to our metadata scoring system. This has been in beta for a little while on the site, and we’ve collected a lot of data from it’s usage, on what’s worked and what hasn’t. With this launch of the new Style Guide, we are going to tackle a major update to the scoring system, getting it updated with the new rules, and get it flagging your fields as you go.