An open letter to MP3 bloggers - Give credit where it's due!

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Joined: 02/12/2009

[ If you've been asleep for a few years, you missed a kickass way for music fans to spread the love. "MP3 blogs" (aka musicblogs, audioblogs) and Podcasts are the latest-greatest. Since this open letter is to the creators, I'll spare you the definition. (Newbies can read this and this.) ]

I'm a big fan of tons of MP3 blogs and podcasts. They rule. If you're in charge of one, here's what I'd like you to know:

1) We love you, don't stop.
2) You'd better be creating your MP3 files with full credits, or you might be karmic-ly negligent.

I mean really, I agree that you should get some recognition for tipping us off to the cool rarities. Go ahead and put your own info (URL, blog name, shoe size, whatever) in the "comments" field. But, why would you put your own name in place of the artist, or your URL instead of the album title? That's just bogus. This isn't like the old days when we'd obscure our LP labels to block trainspotters. You're giving the song away, so pay respect to the artist.

Since the whole point is to turn people on to this music, and you've already done the research for your web page, PLEASE take the last step and put the details into the MP3's ID3 tags. Despite it's faults, has the basic info so look it up. At least fill in what you know.

OK, so you've got arguments against taking the 5 seconds to do this. Here are my readymade rebuttals:

Quote:"But I already post the info in my blog."
•) True, you put all the info (and often way more) in the blog. But the MP3s are disconnected from the blog instantly. If you took a survey of your readers, you'd find that all of them have to wait until the download finishes, and many can't listen to the track until well after they've finished reading the blog entry (particularly those poor souls without broadband).

Many blog visitors end up with a folder of unnamed MP3s that they don't listen to until later. By that point, they have no idea which of the half-dozen blogs they visited that day provided that particular MP3. Most won't take the time to return to the blog again, and there are some uneducated slackers who don't even read the blog, and just cherry-pick the files.

Quote:"I already spend a lot of time doing this as a labor of love."
•) It only takes 5 seconds or so to cut-and-paste the info, even easier than posting a blog (in iTunes just select File-> Get Info). iTunes or any player app makes it simple to add info. Yes, that's 5 seconds more of your time, but multiply that times the thousands of folks who read ya. It's a bonus multiplier for the greater good.

Quote:"ID3 tags? Say wha?"
•) ID3 tags are embedded inside MP3s and many other file formats. The most important ID3 fields are Song Title, Artist, Album, Year and Album Art. The rest are icing on the cake: Songwriter/Composer, Track Number etc.

Also flesh out the filename itself; don't leave it as a cryptic track01.mp3. I like artist-songname.mp3. Of course no sane human goes to the lengths that I go to.

Keep the link back to your blog in the comments field, and maybe even make it the full trackback link to that particular day's entry? That'd be sweet. The comments field can handle hundreds of characters (as long as the ID3 tag isn't the old version 1), so go crazy in the comments field.

Quote:"It's not like I'm getting paid for this. I do it to spread the music I love."
•) Giving more info in the file supports your no profit-motive goal of selling back catalog and putting out of print music back in rotation. Remember when FM radio DJs used to back-announce? Oh, you don't even remember FM? Well, it's... never mind.

Quote:"What's in it for me?"
•) Your own personal mp3 collection would be much more useful, searchable etc. I'm sure you've saved them long after their 10 days are up on the blog... And if you ever start an MP3 stream, you could have automatic links to buy the album, based on these ID3 tags.

So here's a chance for you to save face: technical ignorance. Tell yourself that you just didn't know how to change the ID3 tags in the MP3 file. That's perfectly understandable, and it might even be the real reason why you've been dissing the artist.

Here's a longwinded geek-o-riffic article I wrote on how to tag files:


Why am I so interested in this? As a recording engineer, I've been uncredited on a few releases, and it burns. It's rude as hell.

As a DJ, I love to turn others on to music, and as you know nothing beats that. Knowledge begets knowledge.

And as a producer, I advise new bands to get their name out there anyway they can; free MP3s without their name is a waste.

Anyway, thanks for reading my rant. Regardless of what you do next, thanks for turning me on to loads of lost music!