How To Embed Metadata Using iTunes

how to embed metadata using itunes - decibel peak academy

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One of the easiest ways to start embedding metadata into your audio files is to use iTunes. I have to admit though, it’s an unconventional way of doing things, but I like the simplicity. That’s why I’ll be teaching you how to embed metadata using iTunes. It doesn’t require any additional tools, so it’s especially for those of us working with MacOS.

I’ve talked about embedding metadata using MusicBrainz Picard in other articles, but today I’ll be showing you how to embed metadata using iTunes. It’s installed by default on all Apple computers, so why not learn to work with it? Once you understand how simple it is, you may forget about downloading any other piece of software. Embedding metadata using iTunes is easy and suits my personal needs (which we’ll be discussing). Is iTunes good enough for your music’s metadata needs? Let’s discuss.

Step 1 – Adding your audio files into iTunes

The first thing you’ll want to do is to import your audio file(s). That function is located in the toolbar under File > Add to library or “⌘O” for efficiency.

how to embed metadata using itunes - add to library

If you’re working with multiple formats, I recommend importing one version at a time (so they won’t get grouped into the same album).

Since metadata can’t be embedded into WAV files, I personally work with AIFF and MP3. Both of these file formats can have metadata embedded permanently. This means that the metadata will “survive” any uploading/downloading.

Just to be clear, we’re not talking about ID3 tags (which can be joined to WAV files).

Step 2 – Embedding metadata using iTunes’ built-in editor

If you want to start embedding metadata, all you need to do is right-click your imported file and select Album info in the dropdown menu. That opens up iTunes’ built-in metadata editor.

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Now, you’ll need to manually fill in the fields… I know, it sounds boring.

Once you become more efficient, I guarantee the entire process will take you less than 1 minute. Also, you don’t need to worry about filling out ALL the fields.

The most important fields are:

  • Title
  • Artist
  • Album Artist
  • Composer
  • Genre
  • Year
  • Comment
  • Artwork

I usually use the comment field to add my P-Line/C-Line.

Embedding your album’s artwork is essential if you’re using certain platforms like SourceAudio. If you are using SourceAudio, just remember that it takes metadata from the MP3. I still make sure to provide my AIFF version with metadata though (for download purposes).

Step 3 – Exporting your audio file is easy

Before uploading another version of your track (other format and/or alt-mixes), I recommend exporting/extracting your file. I say “extracting” because there’s no button to export in iTunes…

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iTunes automatically creates another version of your original file and stores it in it’s database. That’s why iTunes used to take LOTS of storage space. We’re not using it for that though!

To find your files, you’ll need to go to Music > iTunes > iTunes Media > Music and all your embedded files will be nicely organized by artist and album. You’ll simply need to drag & drop your file onto your desktop.

You can also move directly to your original folder (which will replace the original file).

Step 4 – Cleaning up

The last thing I recommend doing is to delete each file from your iTunes library after “extracting” your embedded file. You can simply right-click and select Delete from Library from the dropdown menu. Don’t worry, it doesn’t delete the file once you MOVE IT to your desktop/anywhere else.

Screen Shot 2020 12 05 at 5.23.41 PM

Every once in a while, you may also want to delete the folders iTunes ends up creating. It’ll just make it easier to navigate in the long run. Make sure they’re empty before deleting!

Why would you want to use iTunes for metadata?

Nowadays, music isn’t being released physically (or nearly as much). That’s why embedding metadata into your files isn’t as important anymore. Unless you’re providing downloads, you don’t really need to worry about that at all.

For example, music distribution services require you to use their built-in editor.

However, you might be using platforms like SourceAudio that extract metadata from your actual audio files. In other words, you can’t upload album art manually using SourceAudio (unless I just haven’t seen how to do that).

Either way, the metadata you embed using iTunes is supposed to be basic.

It’s just useful if someone ends up downloading the actual audio file (which is rare).

The rest of the metadata is entered using SourceAudio or another software that has been designed to work with metadata exclusively. SourceAudio allows you to import these files.

Important information like…

  • ISRC/ISWC codes
  • PRO information
  • Tracking information

Those pieces of metadata are only required if you’re distributing your music online. That’s why you won’t need to worry about that until you’re actually uploading your tracks to one of these platforms. I’ll be talking more about this in my more advanced articles.

If you’re using iTunes, it’s just to have the essentials along with the ease-of-use.

There’s really no need to download any additional software for embedding metadata. If you’re still making physical releases though, you’ll need to look into software that’s designed for mastering audio files and metadata. You can also consider MusicBrainz Picard (it’s free).

On that note, I hope you found this article useful! If you enjoyed learning how to embed metadata using iTunes, make sure to share this page and leave us some comments.

If you’re interested in having your music publishing/distribution needs taken care of, Decibel Peak Studio is capable of providing reliable service. Alternately, Decibel Peak Academy can be useful if you want to learn more about the subject so you can do it on your own! We also provide 1-on-1 coaching sessions if you need guidance for any particular challenge you’re facing.

Thanks for reading, until next time!

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