Essential Tagging and Labeling
Proper labeling is important; people know what they’re getting. In this case, when you tag your new mix or track, your audience (as well as labels and supporting artists) get the correct info they need to spread the word, give you credit, and as an added bonus your hard work looks professional. Let’s take a look at some often overlooked elements.
There are an unlimited amount of programs for editing ID3 tags (ID3 is the metadata format holding info such as the title, artist, album, track number, and other information about the file to be stored in the file itself). Personally I use iTunes to add this info, but then I also cross check that the info shows up through other players. Although I haven’t tried it yet, Jaikoz looks pretty badass and runs on Mac, Windows and Linux. Here is the most widely accepted (and understandable) standard I’ve seen for file naming:
Artist X – Track Title (Artist Y Remix)
For ID3 tags, at very least, I add to the following fields:
- Name (Artist – Track Title)
- Comments (for website info / email / AIM etc.)
Important Note: If you are shopping your tunes to be signed: include your email + AIM in the file name in brackets as well as in the ID3 tag. This applies for sending tunes to labels or artists via AIM / sendspace etc. I’ve read about label bosses unable to play or press tunes because the artists neglected to send the proper contact info with digital tracks.
I will readily admit that this is personally a gigantic pet peeve – people uploading tracks with improper tags and expecting that Soundcloud does tag editing. Soundcloud does not rename your mp3 files for you automatically! The title for your track you see on screen is not what people will see when they download it. The exact same copy you upload is the exact same copy you download.
The labeling you do online is just for the screen on Soundcloud, and your mp3 remains untouched. Also, clean up titles that include “MASTERED”, “Copy of”, “unfinished”, track or bounce numbers, and the like. This may be useful to you for sorting, but is unnecessary for your audience. All tracks shared publicly should be complete, finished and mastered. This applies to tracks uploaded anywhere, not just on SC. Also, be sure to use SC’s own tagging system (including adding a genre tag). You can be creative with the genre tag if you like, but having it nonetheless catches the eye. People using search can find your track via tags and this can help your exposure.
Unless you are playing a set of entirely your own material or are premiering dubs that artists would not like identified yet, then you should be putting up tracklists with your mixes. If you’re playing someone else’s tunes – please give them credit. Would you want them doing the same for you? Here is how I’ve written out tracklists for the last 5 years (and I believe to be the most well regarded way):
- Artist X – Track Title [Label Name]
- Artist Y – Track Title (Artist Z Remix) [Label Name]
note: replace “label” with release details if necessary, or unreleased (dub)
Here’s an example of a nice TL for an old d+b promo mix.
Pro Tip: In iTunes, use “Right click > get info > lyrics tab” then write out your tracklist and it will show up with the cover art all fancy like. You can get even more advanced with tracklists in mp4’s.
Embedding Album Art
It surprises me how few people embed photos in their mixes. Visual impact is an important part of branding and when a mix comes up on your screen or iPod it has an infinitely larger impact then absolutely nothing at all. I like to do pictures with my tracks (pictures of artists you are remixing work well) but would never post a mix without some kind of cover art. Even just your logo is better than nothing.
- Download some of your own tracks from your Soundcloud, blogs etc. and see how well presented they are.
- Use at very least, a (high quality, square) photo for artwork, or better yet, commission some cover art
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