When songwriters and performers create a song, they are likely thinking about how the public will receive it and how it will do on the music charts.

Of course, these creators also think about protecting the content they make. They might establish the proper protections, but there is a new issue involving metadata that is preventing hundreds of creators from protecting their music as well as their rights to royalties.

What is metadata?

Musicians and music producers can embed music files with specific metadata that identifies the content. It is information within the music file itself that reports:

  • The song title
  • The album
  • The artist
  • The songwriter
  • Copyright information

In the age of technology, metadata is essential to help computers, streaming services and fans alike identify their favorite songs. It is also supposed to help ensure that music creators obtain their royalties, but flaws in this metadata are preventing artists from receiving thousands—or even millions—of dollars in royalties.

Artists missing rightful royalty payments because of metadata

Metadata identifies when someone plays, downloads or purchases a song, which should transfer to royalties for those who created the content. However, The Verge reports that several issues surround the use of metadata, specifically :

  • The lack of regulations for how to collect metadata
  • No standards for how to list metadata in music services
  • Different ways of storing data for different databases
  • Incorrect information entered into databases

Because there are no standards for how streaming services, labels and artists use metadata, critical information is lost in the transfer between these entities. And the fact that fans and listeners across the world have several different options to listen to music makes this matter even more complex.

Regulations could help, but a solution could be far off

Establishing consistent standards and regulations for metadata usage could help protect creators’ rights to royalty payments. However, there is a severe lack of regulations across the music industry to protect artists’ rights, aside from metadata. And it could take time to reform regulations across streaming services, companies and countries.

There is still much that artists can do to protect their rights in the meantime, such as:

  • Establishing the proper trademarks
  • Claiming and registering copyrights correctly
  • Determining where and how to stream the music
  • Tracking the music’s online presence

The problems surrounding metadata are not likely to disappear anytime soon. However, being aware of these issues can help artists protect their content.