What is metadata?
Metadata in its simplest form is data that describes information about other data. In terms of distributing your music, this refers to the individual parts of information that make up your release, such as the artist and track names, language, release date and rightsholder information.
When submitting your release through My Music Distribution Zone, you will be required to enter specific metadata about your release. This can be entered in two ways, firstly by going to ‘Releases -> New Audio Release’. The first method is to fill out each field of the form you are presented with. All mandatory fields are marked with an asterisk and accompanied by an information bubble which provides further details on what you are being asked to enter. If this is your first time submitting a release, we advise that you choose this method as it will help familiarise yourself with the required fields and how these should be formatted.
The second way to enter your metadata is to upload a metadata spreadsheet. The template for this can be downloaded by going to ‘Releases -> New Audio Release’, and should also be uploaded here once complete. The metadata spreadsheet is a beneficial tool if you already have experience in uploading releases as it can make the process faster and more efficient, especially when uploading a release with multiple tracks such as an album.
Key Detail: UPC
A UPC (universal product code), also referred to as a barcode or EAN (European article number), is the identifier of your release as a whole product. This is typically classified as a single, EP or an album. The UPC is essential for identifying the release both within My Music Distribution Zone and within DSPs’ systems. Horus Music provides UPCs for free which can be generated upon your submission by leaving the field blank. If you already have an existing UPC, make sure to enter this in the required field when uploading your release to our system. If you need to contact us regarding a specific release, always ensure to include the UPC so that we can efficiently locate your release and solve your query faster.
Key Detail: ISRCs and ISWCs
ISRC stands for International Standard Recording Code. This is the identifier that refers to the specific master copyright recording of a track. ISRC’s are used to identify a specific audio file, i.e the master copyright recording, so if you had 5 tracks on a record, each of these would be assigned their own individual ISRC. Horus Music provide ISRCs for free for our distribution clients which are generated automatically upon your submission by leaving the field blank. If you have already been assigned an ISRC, make sure to enter these in the required fields before submitting your release for distribution.
ISWC stands for International Standard Musical Work Code. This is the identifier that refers to the composition of a track. A Performance Rights Organisation such as PRS in the UK usually provide these. If you are not registered with a PRO, you can still distribute your music without an ISWC, however it is always advisable to make sure you are signed up with a PRO to maximise your royalty collection in other avenues outside of standard distribution.
What’s the difference between an ISRC and an ISWC?
As mentioned previously, ISRCs and ISWCs identify different elements that make up a track.
For example, if you released a studio version of a track and an acoustic version of the same song, both releases would have the same ISWC because you’re playing the same song, including the same lyrics, melody, rhythm and so on. It’s important to note even if you are slightly altering the original track to accommodate the acoustic version, it is essentially the same composition and therefore falls under the same ISWC. However, each track would be assigned an individual ISRC as they are separate recordings, one studio and one acoustic. This rule applies no matter how many versions of the same song you do, every separate audio file must have a different ISRC.
This also applies for cover songs too. If for example you cover Ed Sheeran’s ‘Lego House’, your recording will generate a new ISRC, but the ISWC will be the same as Ed Sheeran’s because you’re using the same lyrics and fundamental composition.
Why is metadata important?
Music distribution would not be possible without metadata as it is the basis for storing, organising and finding your music. Without metadata, distributors such as Horus Music or DSPs like Spotify and Apple Music would not be able to identify releases.
Similarly, metadata is paramount for marketing. The marketing services we offer at Horus Music rely on the identification and description of tracks not only for ourselves, but for the teams we work with including radio stations, editorial playlist curators and PR campaign leaders.
Metadata is used in registrations of not only master recordings, but for publishing purposes too. Performance rights organisations such as PRS will provide ISWCs, and these will be linked to any streams on DSPs so that you can be paid publishing royalties. Whilst Horus Music collects royalties generated by the master copyright directly from the DSPs identified by the ISRC; the ISWC is vital for the efficient flow of publishing royalties also owed to you from streaming. Without metadata, you may be losing out on important income streams.
If you wish to transfer your releases to us from another distributor, it is vital that you submit the same metadata to us as any previous deliveries. Stream counts and playlist placements are linked to the release UPC and track ISRCs, and therefore these are important parts of metadata to have on record. For more information on transferring your music over to Horus Music from another distributor, click here.
If you have any further questions regarding metadata or the upload process, our team will be happy to help on email@example.com.