From our experience at Reprtoir, managing years' worth of audio files and completed albums is a never-ending challenge for successful record companies. As streaming platforms and audio software change, the music metadata that these services and software collect need a defined structure. Otherwise, managing any music catalog will become a time-consuming, wasteful task.
Musicians, publishers, artist development professionals each create data that doesn't necessarily integrate into one system. What ends up happening is that record labels use a menagerie of tools, trying to lash together one strategy out of several different software.
Unfortunately, this strategy can do more harm than good because disorganization and easily avoidable mistakes become a serious issue over time. To make things easier, we've put together these four tips for audio file management.
Maintain a clean catalog
First things first: what do we mean by maintaining a clean catalog? Just like any official documentation, a music catalog can swell into a disorganized mess.
The key is to include all relevant information about a track or album, even if it's not useful at the moment. Attaching raw documents, such as contracts and financial files, to audio files isn't a feature in many software.Remember the long game before creating more files and haphazardly storing them on various hard disc drives, cloud services, and audio software.
We've seen contributors and rights holders not get their fair share because of poorly structured music catalogs, which bloat over the years. The information is lost in the shuffle, sometimes permanently.
In our digital age, it's tough to stick to a consistent file-naming standard. The results are lost productivity and disorganization at the file level, which is untenable for quality labels who publish in volume.
A clean catalog keeps track of all audio data, albums, tracks, and documentation for royalties and rights. That's the standard right now. And these are the guidelines we followed, working on Reprtoir’s Software.
Find ways to aggregate metadata across platforms
The popularity of streaming platforms is fantastic for budding musicians, but for their record labels, these services have put them in a bind when it comes to catalog management. The same track will appear on different platforms like Spotify, SoundCloud, iTunes, or YouTube if it's a music video. For the artist, that's a phenomenal benefit.
On the other hand, the challenge for labels is that each platform collects and reports metadata differently, and there aren't many tools that can merge all information into one software.
In our experience, some record companies don't report well on each track's metrics on each platform. There might be gaps no one notices until it's too late.
Using a tool that can scrape the metadata and organize them in one software would be ideal. And by the way, we do offer this possibility for our customers with Metadata Collector.
Include rights and royalties data
The business side of the music industry is arguably the most difficult to execute. Most artists don't receive substantial royalty checks, but they will hold on to their rights long after, depending on their relationship with the label.
A quality, professional music catalog includes all business and financial documentation linked to each album or track. We've seen some labels successfully use multiple platforms, but the issue is that they don't share information. Data is essentially siloed in each tool.
Manual processes used to work before the age of streaming accelerated full steam. Today, most labels need some system that includes all information related to rights and royalties.
The idea is to develop a schema to retrieve data quickly and accurately. And again, we got you here. Not only our users can link their musical works to their tracks in catalog, but we also are running a private beta to add a royalty accounting solution to our software suite.
Use a professional music CMS
Based on our own needs as licensing professionals, we created our music catalog management platform – Audio Manager – to make it easier for record labels to track and store critical data across various platforms.
We know how arduous and time-consuming tracks and metadata management can be. We developed a tool to make it easier for record companies and music publishers to work as a team – and use it within one platform.
The Audio Manager tool, which integrates with our other solutions, has several capabilities that others don't feature. For example, our platform can manage split royalties at the track level so that everyone can receive their fair share.
We built the software to allow for bulk importing, so with Audio Manager, record labels can upload and organize their entire catalog.
Our metadata collector even refreshes data daily since we programmed it as a smart bot that also scrapes algorithmic data. This kind of feature is critically important for professional music catalog management.