The largest community for DJ and producer techniques, tutorials, and tips. Traktor secrets, controller reviews, a massive MIDI mapping library, and more.

Producers: Please Label Your Tracks ID3 Tags Correctly

As DJs, we collect lots of music, a significant part of which is downloaded as promo material on Soundcloud, music blogs, Toneden, Drip.FM, Bandcamp or any number of other sources. But seemingly one out of every ten songs downloaded has confusing or incorrect metadata that makes it difficult for DJs to quickly read, find, or sort by. This article is for producers and DJs putting out music: take five minutes right now to learn how to properly label your tracks.

There’s a very simple formula for success when it comes to properly labeling (and thus, promoting) your tracks:

Title: Title (Remixer Name [Remix/Bootleg/Edit])
Artist: Original Artist

This might seem like the most obvious labeling to everyone, but there are so many producers that put out material that completely fails at this very basic test. Here’s what properly labeled tracks should look like (naturally Claude VonStroke, who has been DJing and producing for a long time, has everything in order):

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at Aug 21.39.38 AM

Let’s look at some of the most common labeling mistakes and why they make finding tracks more difficult for DJs who want to play your tracks:

Putting Your Name In The Artist Field For Edits and Remixes

artist-wrong-id3

This is probably the most common issue when downloading tracks off of the internet (bootlegs, edits, remixes). A producer in this instance puts their name in the Artist field, and resigns the original artist to the Name field – often with something like “feat. Missy Elliott” or “(Missy Elliott bootleg)” appended to the name. Some producers will eliminate the original artist name entirely!

We know you’re proud of your remix, but this is frustrating if a DJ is browsing by artist – they won’t be able to find that one really cool Missy Elliott remix they have that you made because it’s not under “Missy Elliot” when sorting by artist.

Also remember, you are not Missy Elliott. Your bootleg is great, but you aren’t the original artist of the track.

Putting All The Metadata In The Title

title-loading

Hey everyone, it’s not 1999 anymore. Since we’ve all moved beyond the original Napster era of music acquisition (where file names were full of every bit of information about a track), there’s absolutely no need to front-load all the information about your track into the Title tag. This looks unprofessional and more importantly gives no sorting information to the person who grabbed your track.

The WAV Trap

Related Articles on DJTT

lossless-audio-no-id3-label

Here’s a catch-22 situation: you want to send someone a promo version of your track as a lossless WAV file. Unfortunately, WAV files don’t let you store any metadata (this is why so many audiophiles are advocates of the FLAC lossless format), so any information in the title file / file name will be the only thing that carries over.

You might want to consider doing a different format – especially if you’re going to be giving this track out for free.

Read More: A DJ’s Guide To Audio Files and Bitrates

Excess Info In A Track Title

TMI

If you’re giving a track out to the public, it’s probably best not to note too much additional info unless you really think it’s pertinent. Many tracks come labeled “MASTER2” or “final mixdown3” in the title tag, or note the bit rate of the track. I’m not sure where these weird practices started, but if you’re prepping a final version of a track to give out to DJs and fans, clean it up!

Repeating Artist Name Twice

double-artist-name

Too much name recognition isn’t a bad thing, right? This might be true in elections, but in this case it’s another case of adding too much information to a track – but all too commonly we see producers that double up on the artist name in their tags. To label ID3 tags correctly, you’ll want to just include each artist once.

How To Score Bonus Points: Key, BPM, Cue Markers

If you’re really making a track that particularly designed for DJs, you can go the extra mile and really make a DJ happy by running it through a DJ software, analyzing the key and BPM, and even adding a few cue points to the track if you think you have some good ideas for where DJs might want to jump to in the song. It’s incredibly exciting as a DJ to open a song in your DJ program and see that someone has already thought about using it for mixing! We see this a lot in DJ pools, as well as on Serato’s Whitelabel.net site.

DJs: Do you have other suggestions for producers labeling their ID3 tags correctly? Share in the comments. 

  • Manuel

    I use Mp3Tag app (Windows). It has a function to write the file name on the labels and vice versa. Also actions to format the fields on automated way. For example I use these settings:

    – All fields in upper case

    – Replace “_” to ” ”

    – Replace “feat.”, “feat”, “FT”, “featuring” to “FT.”

    – Replace “(” and “)” to “[” and “]”.

    – Trim blank spaces of the end.

    – Change year format from YYYY-MM-DD to YYYY.

    Personal settings: https://www.dropbox.com/s/xmt410lmnqp6e57/Mp3tagSettings.zip?dl=0

    How to use: http://forums.mp3tag.de/index.php?showtopic=976&view=findpost&p=4088

  • Nikolay Popov

    A program called Media Monkey does give u access to correct WAV and FLAC files, also U can add Artwork strongly (doesn’t dissapear when u edit track with some soft like Adobe audition for example)

  • DJ AUDIO1 ?

    All you DJs need to get over yourselves. As long as you have an artist name, and title, That is all you truly need. It is your job as a DJ to do the rest. Sure, It is nice to get the extras, such as BPM, Genre, MIK tag, Cue points, but honestly, That is your job as a DJ, to sort and organize your own music.

  • DJ AUDIO1 ?

    Shoutout “Unknown”. I play a lot of his or her tracks.

  • InkedNetwork

    Oh man this is so on time. its spooky. ive been trying to properly tag ID3 v2 of all my files. Clean my library add proper covert art not ony on the files the Album, EP folder that contain all the files. And man o man what a repetitive and annoying tasks. Even using softwares like Beatport Pro, the new Itunes, TuneUp, Traktor, J3, Metabliss, Transpotting id3reader.py and whatever relevant app i get my hands on. i am never satisfied.
    Uploaders of mp3 EPs and whatnot do you really need to tag your website on the cover, and 5 times inside the metadata of a track? what is the point? i wont name any sites but i think everybody recognize itself. here
    All Hail to those proffessionals who at least include an album covert art inside the folder, as one application in particular sole purpose is to put the art cover on the blue generic folder.
    Comments sections are usually a mess. Its crazy. it seems so simple to create a logical workflow, that will cut our time so much using the right script or simply the proper automated app. But so far we still have to do it one by one in 90% of the time.
    It is uber annoying, I just created a GitHub to address it once and for all.
    So we can me plus whoever wants to volunteer coding or create a work flow infrastructure that is painless and one click away from Fixing any DJ entire collection.

    I have over 39000 relevant LPS and EPs most 320kbps but most of the app mentioned above were just not created to cut time in this ultra long process of discovering and downloading tracks that matters, enter proper cue points automatically (MIK 7 forget it it is the worst and is so slow)…

    Do anybody got a solution to organizing the libraries of working DJS with all the proper tags, Metabliss is another nightmare. everytime i talk to Yakov. about implementing my ideas and come up with an upgrade its dont worry wait until you see what i got coming. and im sure it is the same for all the so called “Developpers” out there licensing some half ass algorithms from Sonic, Izotrope or whoever and put their name on it. I swear people got life backwards , priorities upside down. They want to make it all about them instead of all about serving the community. No surprise why all of you are failing at this.
    CEO wants to be coders and rockstars celebrity DJs, famous and rich when their job is to delegate all tasks and see through it the job gets done and exceed expectations with no Glitch. Gosh can wait to learn all the tricks around coding so that i can DO IT MYSELF and collaborate with those that know more and better than me so we can serve up the next generation with a product 100% SOLID, again I have something up on Github hit me up if interested in participating. i know the flaws in all soft mentioned. and what needs to be done. Im lacking the know how. Get it? Got It ? GOOD!

  • I like year and genre as well

  • Paul van Groove

    I really appreciate your initiative. Great and very much needed.

    To the bonus section I would like to add:
    + Year
    + Label
    + composer

    While it would be a big step forward to receive tags with nicely edited meta data (not only from promotion pools, but also from shops), I feel the need that the industry as a whole has to work for more standardized meta-data representation. So we find:

    + incompatible rating formats betweens platform (none (e.g.Serato DJ – except workarounds), half star (e.g. Mediamonkey) vs. full star (e.g. iTunes, Traktor), various technical formats),
    + applications that can’t handle multi artists (a pointt hat you omitted in your article, Traktor Pro is such a candidate)
    + for DJs useful additions like “mood”,”vocal”, “energy” that are not supported by others (Traktor Pro, Serato DJ, iTunes etc.)

    I would really lik eto see that we overcome those limits rather sooner than later with a true standard everybody adheres to.

  • Landy Delossantos

    UFF I hope DJs and Producer are listening. There is nothing more time consuming than cleaning and organizing music specially when getting music for a gig a the last minute or because someone would ask you for a song in the middle of your set. Another big no no is the fact that many time the put the wrong genre or generalize the genre. If it is not house music do not called it house just because if feed that category. I see this be a large problem on the Latin music. Except for the site “Promo Only” and maybe “ProlatinRemix” actually classify Latin music with the proper genre. Every body else call any music that is in Spanish “Latin” and that is a mayor problem. Latin music include: Bachata, Merengue, Salsa, Ranchera, Banda, Dembow, Reggaeton, latin Club, etc….. calling it just “Latin” as genre is wrong. I hope some people take notice of this discussion and start to make changes when putting ID tag in their music.

  • CK

    Also very important: Don’t forget to add the picture to the track!!!

  • sinesthetix
  • Fayek Helmi

    the mistakes that you were referring to with master2 and what not comes from people exporting multiple drafts of their work during their process as a means of reference or testing, for the producers the easiest way to add information you need to have on hand regarding your export is going to be in the filename. but that is in no way advocating keeping this mistake, i usually create a duplicate of whtaever track im happy with to post online and edit the ID3 tags properly and upload that…

    also regarding adding cue points, what kindof dj software you’re talking about because i seriously doubt that traktor can read cue points made on another computer, no?

    • If you are a producer, you can run your track through Mixed In Key, for instance, and have it auto-generate cue points for a number of different DJ software packages at once. Cue points are metadata and can be read across devices.

      • Fayek Helmi

        ive bought mixed in key specifically for using it with autohot cues and it was the worst experience i ever had. demanded a refund right away and got it. it might be great for analyzing (i personally use keyfinder) but not for the hotcues.

        • Roy Bear

          Plus: David G. promotes this Tool. There’s no way I am getting me this tool…

    • Paul Muller

      Traktor tags are portable across computers. You need to embed the tag data into the file by unlocking and then relocking the track. It’s something I do periodically with all my tracks as a fail safe in case my library file gets blown up.

      • Fayek Helmi

        ive tested this just now because i was wondering if it were true or not but had never actually tested it. recently i went/am going through my entire dj playlist and fixing grids and locking it. i also am putting in 8 hotcues and unlocking and relocking like you said just in case, but never tried to see if they get remembered. so i decided to try it. here is my process:

        find a song with a locked beat grid. put a hotcue on it. unlock it then relock it so it writes to file.
        add a new song to the deck.
        readd the first song and the hotcue is there. perfect.
        now delete that hotcue without unlocking and relocking
        switch songs
        bring back the old song, result: hotcue isnt there.

        Conclusion, locking and unlocking doesnt affect hotcues only the beatgrid.

        • I could be wrong, but I thought Traktor changed this behavior and now writes all changes directly to the track, making locking and unlocking only relevant if you want to avoid accidentally making changes. When you deleted the hotcue without the track being locked, that might be why when you reloaded it.

          • Fayek Helmi

            i deleted the hotcue while the track was locked, not sure if the steps clarify this properly, however perhaps this is a new behaviour that was added to 2.9 because i’m still running 2.8 right now…

            I would actually love to be able to delete the hotcues and still retrieve them next time i load a track in the deck.. i have 8 loop hotcues set up on each track but sometimes i’ll want to change something on the fly live and id hate to ruin all the work ive spent properly hotcueing my song library. it was a long ass process! (still have around 90 songs to do still)

          • Paul Muller

            Ah, I misunderstood. If you manually delete a Hotcue then yes, I assume you will lose it (whether the track is locked or not), UNLESS the file itself is locked for read/write and you re-import using Consistency Check. Worth a quick test. My method is/was to ensure that if I lose my library XML files that the cues themselves are still in the track.

  • This article is a long time coming, and I hope it gets spread widely in order to support the ecosystem between producers and DJs. Two more tag requests:

    1) Please stop with the all-caps. I really don’t like loading up a track and feeling like I’m being yelled out.

    2) A lot of software doesn’t understand how to render or sort special characters. Easing up on the kaomoji would be nice! ¯_(?)_/¯

  • Anal Reader

    “naturally Claude VonStroke, who has been DJing and producing for a long time, has everything in order”

    Pfft, everything in order. yeah right. One track says ‘ft.’ then it says ‘feat.’, and then it says, ‘featt.’ You call that being in order? puh-leasssse. xP

  • Nice one DJTT…Adding some more emphasis from Label perspective and what could be why no one hears your demos;)…Over here at the Juice HQ we use similar guidelines for demo submissions and definitely when receiving deliverables for a signed release…if artists fail at that, it’s usually a sign that the rest of the experience with them will be problematic;) While it’s the labels job to double check final packaging before release, IMO the label is not a baby sitter…such attention to detail is definitely the artists shared responsibility from day 1 and helps the label do it’s main job, getting music sold, charting, exposed, etc…

  • Out of that.. getting cue info with the track really jumped out at me..!? Must confess never really had came across it, albeit it makes sense… what sort of editor could I use to make my cues and have it saved with ID tag?

  • What about the following:

    Label
    Album
    Album Artist
    Genre

    While I don’t advocate that Beatport is the sole decider of Genre, I would think that their Genre mapping is standardized to the point that most labels rely on it to tag the Genre of a song. I can’t tell you how many times I get song with either no genre or some variation thereof. I’d love to see labels and artists adhering to the Genre set by Beatport and spelled lowercase and caps correctly. It’s “Deep House” not “deep house” or “Tech House” not “techhouse”

  • Funk Hunk

    personally, if i am releasing a free track.. your cost for the track might be a little tag clean up. Otherwise, its the record companies job to fix that before they release it.

  • Krystian Szymula

    suck a dick

  • mczanetti

    Everytime I download some tracks at soundcloud I look onto these mistakes. Theres is nothing that looks soo unprofessional as download a track and in the name section it contais ‘MASTER 3 FINAL’.

    great article guys

    • Dan White

      Yeah, aside from it being a pain when you’re adding tons of tracks into a DJ library, it really does look unprofessional. Good ID3 tags = everybody wins.

  • Audio Units

    Here’s a little video tutorial on a few tools that can help ease this process.

  • We are spending a lot of time to tag all our edits correctly, and we are adding the cue points as well, that way you are making sure that the track could be played by DJs… We all hate to recieve promo music with no id3 tags..

  • This is a great article it would clear up all my list instead of me taking tons of time to fix it

  • Supercapital

    If you can’t follow this then stop using the word “Producer”

  • Sjerk

    I personally prefer to have the ‘featuring artist’ in the ‘artist’ tag as well.

  • AIF files allow you to embed not only ID3 info, but album artwork as well. I always recommed that over WAV if you need to make sure that info is part of the file. iTunes can add ID3 tags and artwork just like you’re working with MP3s too.

    • Dan White

      Great point. Featuring your comment so everyone sees it!

    • Alex Favilla

      Wow, thats a great plus over WAV. Never knew that one.

      • I’ve converted all of my dj tracks to aif for just this reason, no more losing album artwork!

    • ???????

      Thank you

  • here_comes_the_sheik

    Now all piracy websites read that article as well 😉

    • ShiftFunction

      Good luck with that! I’ll settle for Beatport getting it right!