Podcast metadata MP3 ID3 tags

If you have a consumer or business podcast on iTunes or any other distribution website, you should definitely consider embedding ID3 tags into your final MP3 file.  MP3 metadata is the most important element in producing a high quality, professional podcast; second only to your great content and quality audio production.

Even if you don’t use a 3rd party distribution channel, embedding metadata into your MP3 is essential.  First, let’s talk more about podcast metadata and what it is.

What is Podcast Metadata?

Podcast production requires a lot of time and effort gathering your facts, preparing the script and carefully recording and editing all the elements together.  But it doesn’t end there.  Today, the vast majority of podcasts are being distributed as MP3 audio files.  These files use an ID3 metadata container to store information such as artist, album, title, track number and even an image file (cover art).

All current music distribution services that sell MP3 files use the ID3 tag.  If you’ve ever purchased a song from iTunes.com or other music download site, you’ve most likely noticed the artist, album, and title information being displayed in the iTunes player on your PC or MAC.  But even more interesting than that, you’ll hopefully notice the gorgeous digital artwork that is the modern manifestation of the album cover.  If you’re like me, a visual component in what is supposed to be an audio-only format is exhilarating!  More about that in a minute.

ID3 tags are not just for the podcasts that aim to entertain. If you are a business person, consider the millions of people who have downloaded music and have seen these elements.  What happens when these same people download your business podcast and these things are missing?  Trust me, your brand will suffer.  The perception may be that you are subpar, or worse yet, incompetent in your field.

Which ID3 Tags Do I Use?

Let’s quickly breakdown the main tags that iTunes and other podcast distribution sites want you to include in your MP3 file.  The title, artist and album tags are pretty self-explanatory.  The title of your podcast will be obvious, and you most likely will have already chosen one before you even start production.  The artist tag is usually your brand name if you are a company, or your personal name if you are an individual.  But the album name sometimes gives people trouble.  Think of this as a category, or several podcasts grouped together under one name.  Consider what categories best fit your podcasts?   For example, if you are a Public Relations company, a good choice for an album may be the name of your client.  So you’d have an album named Pepsi, another named Nike and yet another named Walmart.  If you have a sports podcast, maybe you’d categorize them by sport: football, baseball, hockey, etc.

Next, I also recommend filling out the year, the genre, and the comments tag.  The year tag is normally the year you are releasing the episode.  The genre can be virtually anything so feel free to experiment in this field.  We at AudioFile Solutions have some clients that even use custom names here such as Medical Education or Best Podcast Ever.  In the comments tag, we suggest explaining in more detail what your episode is all about.

But, by far, the image tag is my favorite ID3 tag.  I love seeing a visual component in podcasts, especially when I’m not expecting it.  Not only will this image show up on most media playback software on a PC or MAC, it will also carry over to your Apple i-device, Android smartphone, you name it.  As long as the playback software supports the ID3 tag, your device should display the image you’ve embedded into the metadata.  Keep in mind that there are always exceptions to this rule and every manufacturer handles the image tag a little differently.

While this is by no means an exhaustive discussion of the topic, it is hopefully enough to convince you to start using MP3 tags for your consumer or business podcast.

For our existing clients, if you don’t have anything suitable for your image file, contact us and we will create one for you at no extra charge.  To create one yourself, make your graphic 1400 x 1400 pixels, keep it to only a few hundred KB, and format as a JPEG.  Forward the art to us along with the title, artist, album, genre, year and comments and we will take care of the rest.

Happy podcasting!