Sure, you probably skip the credits at the end of a movie - in fact, most people leave the theater right when they start! But the credits - for every last contributor - scroll after every film, without exception. And top-level contributors are always included during the opening minutes of a film.
So why is it that this level of crediting is almost always missing from iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, Amazon, Rdio, and almost every other music service, with little exception? That's the basis for a metadata movement being spearheaded by producer, mixer and engineer Count (aka Mikael Eldridge), whose 'credits' include artists like DJ Shadow, Radiohead, The Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, New Order, No Doubt, Galactic, Zoe Keating, and Tycho.
Count wants his name included in these artists' digital works - just like physical formats - which is why he's pushing to properly credit performers, producers, and engineers on all online music services. Here's the argument...
"Before I begin, if you think performers, producers, and engineers should be credited on interactive music services like iTunes, Pandora, and Spotify, click here to 'like' our campaign so we can show there is a real demand and change this once and for all.
Over the last few years we've seen an explosion in interactive music services. iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, Soundcloud, and dozens of other platforms are touted as groundbreaking services, but if you really think about it, it's all on the backs of the people who actually created the music; the performers, producers, and engineers. These services are nothing without music creators and at the very least they need to finally give music creators credit on screen.
There is no excuse. Its the right thing to do, it would create a much richer user experience, and it would improve these music services by turning people on to new music. That's why myself and a crew of dedicated folks at the Grammys are tackling this issue once and for all. But we need your help to show there is real demand.
There are many obvious reasons why credit must be given to music creators, but these are a few important ones that I haven't heard discussed enough.
It's a win-win and in most cases it costs nothing. It's one of the most obvious ways to turn people on to new music and it has thus far been a completely missed opportunity. Obviously if I like Radiohead or the Roots, I would want to know who produced them, what other albums they've done, and who's performing on the recordings. Chances are I might like their other work. Duh.
Also, if I'm a Radiohead fan, I would want to know that Thom Yorke sang on an UNKLE song. Chances are, I might like it. Again, DUHHHHH.
Now that we have these amazing products like iPads to experience music, we should be demanding a much richer experience than what iTunes, Pandora, and all the others currently offer; something deserving of the amazing new screens these music services are displayed on. Seriously, iTunes looks like the spreadsheet I use to do my taxes. We should be having a better, deeper experience than we used to have holding a CD booklet or a cassette; not worse.
But let's set aside the obvious moral or social reasons for acknowledging music creators. If you are a music service, just consider the marketing potential. This is just basic marketing 101. It's something Amazon, the late Tower Records, and all decent indie records stores have been doing for years. Yet you will hardly find any internet music services cross referencing by producer, engineer, or performer.
We have these amazing interactive screens just begging for music to be experienced in much more meaningful ways. It's an opportunity for these companies to share and sell more music.
Let's also look at this from the perspective of another similar, slightly less damaged industry, so we can see how this issue should be handled. How long do you think Netflix or movie theaters would last before being sued or shut down if they stopped rolling the end credits of movies? The Screen Actors Guild, Directors Guild, and Writers Guild would never stand for it. If the credits were not there, the studios would sue. And if that didn't work, there would be so much bad press and outcry form the general public that it just wouldn't be worth it.
But this is the music business, and for some reason music services think they don't need to bother crediting us. We've all seen iTunes and noticed their failure to credit music creators on screen. But go to the iTunes Store and look up any movie. You'll see right at the top of the screen next to the movie poster a list of actors, screenwriters, directors, and producers. We must demand this for music immediately not only for iTunes, but all other music services.
Most people might think this issue of not crediting music creators is a minor formality that merely irritates us. But this is not about stroking the egos of music creators. People need to understand that producers, engineers, and musicians need these credits in order to survive in this business.
We get our work by word of mouth, and without credits, nobody knows the work we've done, we don't get new work, and pretty soon, we don't have a career. Companies like Pandora and Spotify get a lot of credit for their achievements. It's time for them to give credit to the people who made their services even possible.
Somehow the issue of credits has for years been relegated to relatively closed discussions in rooms full of the nerdiest engineering geeks you've ever seen in your life at audio conventions like AES under the discussion topic of "METADATA". This is one guaranteed way to put everyone to sleep and prevent anyone from caring about this issue. So please, don't utter the word METADATA in relation to music creators' credit.
This issue is far more straightforward than that. It's not a complicated tech issue for nerdy engineers, and it's not something that should take more than a few minutes to resolve for all future music releases. Adding a field of data on a site like iTunes or Pandora takes a few seconds. I know because I've made databases before.
All we need is for all internet distributors to simply require the following info for all releases: list all performers, producers, engineers, mixers, and mastering engineers for each song and provide their preferred web link. Without this data, the release simply shouldn't be accepted by distributors.
While we are at it, we should somehow be adding songwriting info to these services. Imagine being able to right click on any track in iTunes to see who wrote it and even link directly to the publisher. Imagine how much easier licensing music would be. Imagine how much easier payment for performers would be."
performer, producer, engineer, and random dude just trying to make things better
Pete Friday, April 20, 2012
I work in digital music retail and this issue may sound trivial and easy but in fact isn't. You need to consider the complete data flow around the music supply chain - something various groups are looking at solving / improving right now. Adding extra metadata to certain sites like iTunes will only work if that is the only retailer you have your content on.
You compare it to Hollywood & films - the one limitation you have with music is the lack of real estate to display this additional information especially as mobile devices gain market share. It is difficult enough fitting artist & title sometimes!
I agree with your other points highlighted and the sentiment expressed in your post.
Soniquarium Muzika Monday, April 23, 2012
I am an Artist/Producer and Label Owner. We have many vocalist on our tracks and they are listed on not just the Track Listings but incoded on the MP3 tag, so it scrolls across ones "ITUNES, etc.
And you can also add such info on the covers.
And I call bullshit on this PRODUCER/ENGINEER. Very few people looked at those small and super small printed names on Vinyl.
Comparing this guy to JIMMY PAGE is non sense.
All you clowns do on this site is bitch about Digital stuff all day long.
Go press EPs with Vinyl. Let me keep making money in the digital world.
tiredofstupidpeople Wednesday, April 25, 2012
You're an idiot. I'm sure if your releases came out without your name on it you'd be pissed. You clearly have no understanding of what other people contribute. Obviously you are a DIY artist/"label owner" (it's hardly a label when you're the only one on it) with no clue what a real recording experience with qualified, talented, experienced people is like. Everyone deserves to get credit for their work. It's how they continue to work!
mdti Friday, April 20, 2012
I always take a lot of time putting info in the mp3 tags, such as who wrote, played, produced etc.. as well as bpm, sometimes lyrics or other info that are in the standard mp3 tags....
are those tags kept after sending the files to the aggregation service ? not sure (i haven't bought my own mp3 :-)
they are clearly not available online, but they could be if someone makes a web app nice enough to display mp3 tag infos.
I don't care that this info is not available on every page of every site where you can find those files. it is only info for those who care to look at the mp3 tags (0,00000001 % of the population i think :-)
but i can understand that some people want more exposure.
I feel that it is possible technically (to retrieve tags and display them on site), but just not available at any service yet.
ashraa Friday, May 04, 2012
I see it is useful to read your informations , I am interested sharing , thanks bonsai
Matt Singleton Friday, April 20, 2012
I think this is brilliant, and long overdue. If nothing else, at least from a marketing standpoint, as he pointed out. It is a cross marketing gold mine.
I am sure there could be technical issues, but I am also sure those could be mitigated.
This seems to be a no-brainer. Sign me up.
Zac Shaw Friday, April 20, 2012
Perhaps every album release should have a corresponding movie-style poster, now that album art has been relegated to thumbnail images.
Steven Corn (BFM Digital) Friday, April 20, 2012
Many distributors do not include such tags in their metadata deliveries to the services. But the xml schema for most services do actually include places to insert producers and players. Some services do allow these to be searchable even if they are not displayed prominently.
A very easy solution, that unfortunately only is ubiquitous on iTunes, is to make a simple 4 page PDF booklet for each album. I am an old-school guy who loves to read credits. It's never been easier to add a PDF booklet to an itunes delivery. We do it all the time and I wish that more would do it. (BTW, we don't charge anything extra to upload a pre-formatted PDF file.)
On a 4-page booklet, there is plenty of room to properly credit everyone and include some photos.
Clark Sorley Friday, April 20, 2012
I agree with this completely. Information on music sites is sorely lacking. I invariably arrive at Wikipedia to find out who wrote a song or who produced an album. And although I doubt the majority care much it is still a good idea for all the reasons Count puts forward.
The tech people like to gain kudos from helping music-makers. This would be another good opportunity for them to do just that. Being able to link to all kinds of related information about the individuals who work on records - producers, engineers, songwriters, arrangers, programmers, graphic designers, studios et al - could be a really useful resource. It would have considerable cultural value apart from anything else.
There are many back-room people who feel they are being slowly and quietly wiped off the map. This initiative could help give them back a little presence.
@chris_camilleri Friday, April 20, 2012
YES. This type of service has been in the back of my mind for years.
@dougscripts Friday, April 20, 2012
How many technical and performance credits should a digital download list?
Me Tuesday, April 24, 2012
As many as it takes.
@helienne Friday, April 20, 2012
I've been pushing for this for a while.
Jason Miles Friday, April 20, 2012
100% correct. It is truly amazing that the producer,engineer and musicians credits are totally eliminated from the digital equation
When I was doing synth programming back in the day a great producer said to me.Your objective should be to get your name on as many great albums as possible. When I morphed into being a producer the same was true.Let folks know who produced it.Now since most of the music is anonymous and cookie cutter nobody cares who made it
We need a huge movement to get this changed.That's the only way it will happen
Nate Friday, April 20, 2012
My company HearJapan (a digital music store for Japanese music) just launched a new version of our service. We implemented something somewhat similar to what is discussed in this article. We have the composer, lyricist and arranger displayed for every song. For example click on any album and above the track listing is a "show more" link. Click that and you can see all the direct metadata:
It's very good to see what else they composed and for what other artists they made tracks for.
Michael Hunt Friday, April 20, 2012
Lack of songwriter credit is beyond absurd! The song is the experience that is being sold!
matthew king kaufman Friday, April 20, 2012
Agreed this is absurd and weird.
Tom Murphy Friday, April 20, 2012
It's refreshing to hear a music professional discuss how we should apply technology, instead of technology professionals telling us what we should do with music...
This discussion could yield the greatest step forward in music technology since the iPod (or Pro Tools, or the Les Paul...), and I look forward to helping any way I can.
Zaque Eyn Friday, April 20, 2012
The campaign is a worthy cause, TOO BAD it's only on Facebook. This would go a lot further if it wasn't exclusive to Facebook and in fact I can see it being dead in the water because of it even though I agree with the argument. What about the people who support it that DON'T use Facebook?
Sodacon Friday, April 20, 2012
You can add a PDF to a Bandcamp release yet I haven't found a way to do it on iTunes. However lately I haven't released through them for this reason and others. I don't like having to work my ass off promoting it for them to take 1/3. That doesn't fly with me anymore. And yes, put the credits and give the artist more room to display their art on the damn album please, people would like to know more about who produced it and get an experience out of it.
Visitor Friday, April 20, 2012
unfortunately, i don't think the large majority of consumers care. They don't car e where their food comes from, who made it as long as it has a picture of a farmer on it. it's the same attitude.
record collector Friday, April 20, 2012
Do you pay attention to who the chef is at a fancy restaurant? A lot of people do. People care more about what's in their food that you give them credit for. There are whole TV networks about it.
Do you think people care about who directs a film vs stars in it? Sure some people only care about the star, but a lot of people care more about the director than the actors.
crowder Friday, April 20, 2012
Many distributors do send in this information, but most services simply don't display it as it is a lot of data for each song and finding an aesthetically pleasing way to show it is difficult. A simple "more info" button would be nice, and I would be a huge fan of the aformentioned PDF in place of the old school liner notes.
wurd Friday, April 20, 2012
I completely disagree that it's a small percentage of music fans that want to see this data. It's clearly a small percentage of music technology people though who are extrapolating their own opinion to the world of music lovers.
There is no way to guage demand for this because no one's ever done a study to find out. Beyond that, not many people thought the iPad would be a device that people wanted at first go.
The fanatics, mavens and aficionados are the ones that discover music for the rest of the fans out there. They are the ones that plant seeds that drive sales. You might say that 1% of the music listening populations wants this, but that 1% might be responsible for a much larger percentage of music revenue than the masses the tech people claim don't care.
Tech people often claim that the internet is the new world where artists are better served and in control of their destiny. It seems that's not true and instead artists are now at the mercy of tech companies who say it's just too difficult to even acknowledge who made the music people listen to, let alone pay them anything for it. I'd say that's worse than what the labels have done over the years, except that the labels aren't demanding the artists get credit either...
Visitor Friday, April 20, 2012
i still don't want an ipad. and can you tell me who produced the new jason mraz record? cause there's a lotta people out there buying it who i'll bet don't care.
Collector Friday, April 20, 2012
who is jason mraz? i have a huge music collection, buy music all the time, and have never heard of him.
Walt Ribeiro Friday, April 20, 2012
Could you imagine how long credits would be for orchestras and large ensembles? Either way, this is long overdue. I'm all for this.
Lily L. Friday, April 20, 2012
I work at a digital distro boutique. And we encourage our labels to supply as much info to us as possible - AND producer, mixer are info we want to supply to digital music services.
I know some stores will not display that info now - but we can at least submit to the ones that does, and send in to the ones that keep that info - so one day when the technology comes, the metadata is already there. so encourage the labels/artists you work with to incl. that info when submitting metadata.
we all gotta start somewhere right? i'm all for small steps. =)
The Sage Friday, April 20, 2012
The major reason-
Unlike The Directors Guild and S.A.G.,
THE MUSICANS UNION HAS ABSOLUTELY NO JUICE WHATSOEVER.
End of story.
Get The Recording Academy involved- they may help.
Jeff Robinson Friday, April 20, 2012
www.allmusic.com owned by Rovi Corporation can provide that kind of metadata, but they charge for their service to a site like Amazon which utilizes it. Allmusic, while pretty poor, is at least some kind of answer to this problem. A new company that is reachable through Sterling Mastering in New York is www.albumcredits.com. They take a feed off the allmusic database, but offer a tweakable (to correct all the allmusic.com mistakes) profile for a subscription fee of $12.95 a month. Way too much money to maintain a personal discography when you could really check in once every 6 months to fix the mistakes. A third source of information that could track this stuff, albeit, perhaps with the level of credibility of the previous two is Discogs.com. I have to say, that while all of this is annoying, producing records for independent musicians presents an even deeper problem in that they typically don't release legitimate product with ISRCs and Barcode and rely on doing the half-assed mp3 only online release. The system breaks down from there.
@keith_wilson Friday, April 20, 2012
This is long overdue.
@AlbumJacket Friday, April 20, 2012
This is something we would love to support.
@khapele Friday, April 20, 2012
Cliff Baldwin Friday, April 20, 2012
Every single I-tunes album I am on, have worked on, or have had anything to do with credits me properly. They have both LPs done in html and you can enclose pdf files with any song. The only reason you are not credited on your work is because you are either lazy or ignorant or both. Stop blaming everyone for issues you can solve yourself. Should these services make our names more visible? Yes. SHould we bitch about it like this? Not really.
Dan Friday, April 20, 2012
This will be of interest, as well:
@Terrafirmick Saturday, April 21, 2012
Giving credit where credit is due.
@StanHintzy Saturday, April 21, 2012
This is a good argument about fixing metadata in digital music.
@TomDavenport Saturday, April 21, 2012
Producers and engineers deserve clear credit on digital albums.
Savio Monday, April 23, 2012
The solution is named MPEG7 (descriptor format), but very few are using it. Labels have and can provide all the info needed, but the stores only use ID3 tags.
@tuneefy Monday, April 23, 2012
Metadatas again ! ...
@lindsaycasey Monday, April 23, 2012
Interesting read & compelling arguments.
@superTeV95 Monday, April 23, 2012
Sign the Petition!
joe Tuesday, April 24, 2012
"Adding a field of data on a site like iTunes or Pandora takes a few seconds. I know because I've made databases before."
And mixing an album is easy...I know because I've used Garage Band. While I agree with you points, do not trivialize this as an 'easy fix'.
Getting the data is hard, maintaining the data is hard, and displaying it across all the devices a music service might support is hard.
Moses Avalon Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Thanks for covering this. This is indeed long-overdue, and there're some great comments on this forum.
I handle the contract needs of more than a few producers, and the big problem is most producers simply don't know what to ask for when negotiating the contract. This issue used to be handled by insisting on credit on the outside of the album jacket. Now that we've gone to digital formats that clause has morphed into what I call a metadata clause.
Years ago, to my advocacy efforts, I try to work on this with the with the local 802. To no avail. And I doubt that will change in the near future. Producers simply must know what to ask for and how to phrase it in their contract to make sure that their name is included in certain tags and meta-data. It still won't show up in a lot of places but at least the meta-data is in there and they can use that data to get paid at or enforce their rights.
Tim Smith Wednesday, April 25, 2012
MyWerx V2.0 which will release tonight is also moving to help solve this problem. This is a 4 year research and development effort that has resulted in a multi-million dollard technology platform to begin the pain staking process of collecting this information in a manner that doesn't create an administrative nightmare for anyone.
Check out MyWerxV2.0 its for all participants of digital Werx. The site will be stablized by Saturday 4-28-2012.
We are developing an innovative cost savings approach to solving this problem.
@jameschilds Wednesday, April 25, 2012
A really important article.
John Landau Thursday, April 26, 2012
It doesn't matter that most consumers don't care (and it's true-- most don't, but this hasn't changed a jot from vinyl days.) What matters is giving credit where credit is due, and since the cost to everyone should be minimal, why shouldn't musicians, producers, engineers, songwriters, mastering engineers and all the other people who work so hard to make records sound great receive the recognition that they deserve?
tapesagain Thursday, April 26, 2012
When you create an MP3 file you can go into a screen that allows the input of all this information. However, on the other end it can be hard to find that info. This is not difficult or impossible, just a simple technical fix. And people do want this information. Most of what I know about music and who played it I learned from album covers and the booklets inside CDs, to lose that is really just not right.
Colin OOOD Monday, April 30, 2012
A good source of this data for many releases is www.discogs.com.