Descriptive Metadata in the Music Industry: Why It Is Broken And How to Fix It

Published Master's research, in the peer-reviewed Journal of Digital Media Management Volume 2, Number 3 and Volume 2, Number 4. To cite this, see below. It is available through your library, or download a postprint via the icon to the right:

Descriptive Metadata in the Music Industry: Why It Is Broken And How to Fix It
(2014, 67 pages)

Independent high-level summaries have also been written for Part One and for Part Two.

pdf icon

Abstract:

This extensive report examines an ongoing problem with descriptive metadata in the music industry. Stakeholders agree that there is a problem with descriptive metadata (popularly known as credits or liner notes). But consensus has not been reached regarding how to fix it. The report first covers the issue’s background, showing evidence that descriptive metadata in digital downloads today is no more detailed than on audio cylinders of 1899. Then it examines two keystones to a solution: a standardized descriptive metadata schema, and a Globally Unique Abstracted Persistent Identifier (GUAPI). While previous discussions of this topic have concentrated on authority, this report will show that a standardized schema is the first step to a solution.

First, the landscape of music descriptive metadata silos is detailed and the proprietary and open systems are compared. Next, persistent identifiers are examined to gauge their suitability as a GUAPI. A study is proposed to quantify richer metadata’s ability to increase music sales. Potential arguments against richer metadata are also examined.

Finally, a proposal is made that brings together the component issues. A standardized schema is proposed by combining two current schemata, CCD (Content Creator Data) and MusicBrainz. A method of achieving a GUAPI is suggested by increasing the coordination of current identifiers. By creating a fully abstracted model built upon these components, digital downloads would be more easily enriched with metadata. Benefits would flow to all parts of the ecosystem, including business, technical, creative, and consumer. Business would be enhanced through a more powerful platform for innovation and a richer consumer experience. Technical advances would be fostered. The creative community would be properly acknowledged, and consumers would gain a deeper knowledge of the art they are supporting.

Table Of Contents:

Abstract (p. 3)
Introduction (p. 4)
Descriptive Metadata: Now And Then (p. 5)
Terminology (p. 8)
Reasons for the Lack of Descriptive Metadata (p. 17)
The Silos (p. 20)
The DDEX Suite of Standards and CCD (p. 30)
Part Two (p. 33)
Why Hasn’t This Been Fixed Yet? (p. 33)
Toward A Globally Unique Abstracted Persistent Identifier (GUAPI) (p. 39)
Proposed Study: Quantifying Descriptive Metadata Value (p. 48)
    Research Questions
    Participants
    Data Collection Instrument
    Procedure
Conclusion And Recommendations (p. 51)
References (p. 58)
Appendix: Acronym Reference (p.66)

Note: If you don't have time to read it all, don't miss these sections:
For an executive summary, see pages 4-16 and 51-57.
For more technical detail, see pages 17-47.

How To Cite This

Brooke, Tony. 2014. “Descriptive Metadata in the Music Industry: Why It Is Broken and How to Fix it—Part One.” Journal of Digital Media Management 2 (3): 263–282. Link 1

Brooke, Tony. 2014. “Descriptive Metadata in the Music Industry: Why It Is Broken and How to Fix it—Part Two.” Journal of Digital Media Management 2 (4): 359–374. Link 1/p>


If this is thought-provoking, let me know what you think.

Also, see my other research, and my resume.

Share this