Great! So now what?
Today, we're going to talk about enriching the metadata of your label’s digital material. With metadata, you can go as deep as you want, providing as much detail as humanly possible, but as you assert more control over your metadata, the time you spend doing it increases. We know that a great many of you are busy people with busy lives, on top of working as the sole person behind your label, and don't the time to fully commit to a project like improving the metadata of your files. For some people, a descriptive file name is all they need. Others have set up spreadsheets with file names and directory paths of the material they want to record information about. The spreadsheet method, they say, allows you to decide what’s important about the files and record that information in an easy, low-impact method.
We get it. We commiserate.
We want to make it very clear that we do not advise these methods of recording metadata. In fact, we strongly advise that you do not keep track of your metadata these ways. For one thing, file names have a preset limit on how many characters they can have. On top of that, production hard drives are in a constant state of usage, meaning that any directory path recorded in a spreadsheet is impermanent. (Plus, all it would take to wipe out your metadata is the accidental deletion of a single file.)
By themselves, these methods are an eyelash above a waste of time. If you’re going to commit to enriching your files, commit to it by embedding your metadata.
Embedded metadata is exactly what it sounds like: information embedded within the file it describes, travelling with it for (hopefully) its entire life. The website Embedded Metadata Manifesto says: “In the online world, there can be many copies of a single image or video file, and with millions of images or videos on the internet, metadata is essential for identification and copyright protection. We should ensure this metadata travels with the content as a digital label, and remains with it over its lifetime.”
So, we’re going to embed our metadata -- problems solved, right? Nope. Different file types carry different methods and types of internal metadata. Sometimes, as we’ll see, there’s far more than a single useful method (or schema) in embedding metadata.
Next week, we'll show you different ways how to embed metadata into the major kinds of files that most labels use: audio files, photos, and PDFs.