ID3 is a metadata container most often used in conjunction with the MP3 audio file format. It allows information such as the title, artist, album, track number, and other information about the file to be stored in the file itself.
There are two unrelated versions of ID3: ID3v1 and ID3v2. ID3v1 takes the form of a 128-byte segment at the end of an MP3 file containing a fixed set of data fields. ID3v1.1 is a slight modification which adds a “track number” field at the expense of a slight shortening of the “comment” field. ID3v2 is structurally very different from ID3v1, consisting of an extensible set of “frames” located at the start of the file, each with a frame identifier (a three- or four-byte string) and one piece of data. 83 types of frames are declared in the ID3v2.4 specification, and applications can also define their own types. There are standard frames for containing cover art, BPM, copyright and license, lyrics, and arbitrary text and URL data, as well as other things. Three versions of ID3v2 have been documented, each of which has extended the frame definitions.
Many artists share their music as mp3 files via WhatsApp and other messaging applications. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing this as it’s an effective and low cost way to share your music. What happens when you do this is that an application like WhatsApp renames the file even though the ID3 metadata stays unaffected.
So what does this mean to you as an artist?
Well, let say you sent me one of your songs via WhatsApp, the name changes to something like, AUD-20171015-WA0067 and if the song in particular has no ID3 tag then your song gets lost amongst all the other files that were sent to me via WhatsApp and when it is played in the media player it will show the name as updated by WhatsApp instead of the actual song information.
Songs that are tagged, however, will still show the actual song information in the device’s music player. The file may have been renamed and show the AUD name in the file folders, but you can actually see what you’re listening to so if I feel like listening to the song you sent me I don’t have to spend 10 minutes liking for it going through the file system or go to our chat and scroll up to the song.
We all like to see people sharing the screenshots of them listening to our songs, and we’d like those screenshots to look more like the one on the left instead of the one on the right (below).
I encourage all artists to start tagging their music. It is in inexpensive, quick way of ensuring that your data is saved with your songs. Note, this also works well for producers when sharing beats or other music files.
There are numerous applications that can be used for this. The one I use is MusicMatch Jukebox, since it is also a media player I keep it around.
Here is a list of ID3 tagging applications that are cheap/free as compiled by lifehacker:
- Foobar2000 (Windows)
- MusicBrainz Picard (Windows/Mac/Linux)
- MediaMonkey (Windows)
- TuneUp (Windows/Mac)
- ID3-TagIT (Windows)
- Foobar2000 (Windows)