Whenever some panelist at a music industry session or workshop starts talking about metadata, most attending songwriters’ eyes glaze over and the yawning begins. But tagging your songs with data is absolutely crucial: it’s the only way to ensure that when your music is used, it’ll be recognized as yours, and you’ll get paid for its use. Here to explain, from the perspective of a music supervisor – who decides what music goes into a movie or TV show – are Valerie Biggin and Sian O’Byrne of The Song Rep.

As music supervisors, we get a massive amount of music sent to us on a weekly basis. Typically, we don’t get a chance to listen to everything, but if a certain song catches our ear, it will ultimately end up in our iTunes library for later.

The saddest thing I come across is when, as I’m listening for a TV show or movie placement and I find a great song that would fit the scene, I hit “Command  I” and, to my dismay, I find  only the song title. No contact name, no artist name, nothing… Sadly, I then delete the song and look for something else.

Our turnaround time for a film or TV program can be less than two weeks. There’s simply no time to try and find whoever sent me that song. And this happens far more frequently than you’d imagine.

Why would you spend so much time writing, playing, recording and shopping your song, only to trip at the finish line because an additional five minutes wasn’t taken to tag your metadata on the song?

We are very often asked, “How do I tag my song?” Here’s how to do it:

  • Select the song in iTunes
  • Press “Command I” (with Mac) “Control I” (with PC)
  • Select the “Info” tab (“Details” tab in the new iTunes)
  • Write the composer, performing rights organization (SOCAN), and share percentages in the “Composer” tab
  • Write the publishing and master contact info in “Comments”
  • Add any extra info you may have (e.g., Beats Per Minute [BPM], genre, etc.)
  • Press “OK”

The reason we ask for writer and publisher info, along with share splits, master info, performing rights organization – and contact for each – is that this lets us know what approvals, and how many, we need in order to obtain (or “clear”) all the permissions required to use the song. That can also be a factor in whether or not we decide to use it or move on, because multiple approvals can take up time that we just don’t have.

We’ve provided a couple of examples below.

Here’s an example of the perfect tag:

And below is an example of one that’s not up to our standards:

We hope you find this information helpful! Happy Tagging!
The Song Rep is a music supervision and music services company with an understanding and appreciation of the need for client confidence, unparalleled service, professional etiquette and a “Can Do!” attitude.