Monthly Archives: November 2013

Music metadata: A product with a future

Metadata_ByFrankly242_CST Published 11/14/2013

By Jean-Robert Bisaillon

Held May 6-7 in Los Angeles during Music Biz 2013, the first Music Industry Metadata Summit was attended by some 40 participants who discussed the future of music on digital media from the perspective of metadata. One of the event’s participants, DDEX’s Kirit Joshi, stated that while music continues to be what our senses perceive, metadata have become the real product.

What exactly does that mean, and what is music metadata?

Music metadata comprises sets of data that describe and provide information on an audio file, just as the vinyl record jacket or CD case and liner notes used to do. Without the descriptive information that comes with the “sound,” it is impossible to identify a musical work or recording online. In fact, none of the new music services – including streaming, downloading, and recognition or recommendations systems such as Shazam or Apple Genius – could operate without metadata. Consequently, your album would be very hard to locate or to discover online unless the proper music metadata have been used by such services in the first place.

This being said, there is still the problem of doing it right. How can you make sure that your music is properly indexed and sampled in today’s globalized networks? Interestingly, the DDEX people also claim that the current music metadata mess is impossible to clean up without the collaboration of multiple players and the help of our entire industry’s value chain. We are all aware of the intricacies of the copyright world. What happens if you add the interests of audio equipment firms and telecom and web actors to the mix?

More than ever before, we now have to deal with matters of musical diversity promotion, online equity, copyright application and royalty payments. The state and quality of music metadata may prove to be the key for all musicians and creative content.

I have been working since 2009 on a metadata research project whose findings can be found by downloading the Livre Blanc TGiT, my report (available in French only at http://tagtamusique.com) on the TGiT software project.

Broadly speaking, my contention is that creators must take their future in their own hands by making sure (personally or through a trusted agency) that their musical works and sound recordings are properly indexed. I am currently creating a new tool that will make this an easy and even fun task for the first owner of such works: you, the songwriter!

In the end, the chances of ending up with information that refers to a non-existent music genre, or spells your name wrong, are greatly reduced when the music creator himself or herself is involved in the tagging process. After all, for a web robot, all it takes to derail a whole train is a single misplaced comma.

Stay tuned!

Why youth are embracing vinyl again

Vinyl_ByJamesBarker_CST Published 11/11/2013

By David McPherson

Digital, move on over; analog, move on in.

Just when you thought the LP’s death knell had rung for the final time, vinyl is cool again – especially among the young. Yes, the record, which not so long ago represented a relic that your parents and grandparents had stored in milk crates in the attic, is now hip for a whole new generation. Youth, a demographic you would expect to reject vinyl as archaic and cumbersome, are driving the vinyl record’s resurgence.

Look no further than the latest stats from Nielsen SoundScan and Nielsen BDS that reveal the mid-year U.S. music sales figures for the six-month period of Dec. 31, 2012 through June 30, 2013. For the first six months of 2013, sales of digital albums and track equivalents were down 4.6 percent versus the first six months of 2012. For the same time period, CD sales declined 14.2 percent and vinyl LP sales were up 33.5 percent.

Why is vinyl back? And who’s buying it? Here are a few answers.

First, music lovers seek a return to a less watered-down sound. They don’t want polish. They want to experience that scratchy sound that’s warmer, purer, and truer to the original studio recording. You get a closer glimpse of what it would have been like to hear these musicians live.

Nostalgia also factors into this newfound love for the LP, and curiosity is also at work. Youth want to latch on to a bygone era. They hope to discover what made records so popular with generations that came before them. It’s this curiosity that leads today’s teens and twenty-somethings to beg mom or dad to bring down that dusty crate full of music from the attic and ask for a record player for their next birthday.

When it comes to an LP versus an MP3, vinyl packaging offers so much more. It often includes lyrics from the artist (sometimes hand-written), photos of the band, 12” x 12” artwork, and sometimes liner notes that include the stories behind the songs. Today’s youth, while tech-savvy – and definitely purchasers of digital music, too – also want the enhanced visual experience vinyl offers.

As for the act of buying an LP versus an MP3, there’s no computer “genius” algorithm suggesting what music you might like. Instead, there’s a person behind a counter – a music-lover just like you – with a store full of titles to discover.

Which leads us to the sense of community that goes with collecting vinyl: It’s fun to talk records with others. You know that those who are into vinyl are into music. The third Saturday of April each year is now officially Record Store Day. On this day, LP lovers and independent record outlets across North America celebrate the resurgence of vinyl with limited-edition LPs, and other sales and activities. A pair of Ohio photographers even had a successful Kickstarter campaign to create a book that explores this trend, calling this phenomenon “The New Face of Vinyl: Youth’s Digital Devolution.”

With the rise of DJs, hip-hop, and other forms of music that rely on spinning records at a nightclub, or at music festivals in front of thousands, there’s a whole set of aspiring artists that require a vinyl collection of their own.

Every day, it seems, another record lover is born and the vinyl revolution carries on to the next generation.