Why Is Song Metadata Important?

View, add, or change your metadata for better organization

Music services like iTunes, Apple Music, and Spotify make it easy to create and organize music libraries of your favorite songs. Each song in your library has music metadata, which categorizes information about the song's title, genre, when it was released, and more. Here's a deeper look at how to view and edit music metadata.

This article uses iTunes and Apple Music to give examples of viewing and editing music metadata. These processes are similar to other music services, such as Spotify.

What Is Music Metadata?

Music metadata is also referred to as ID3 tags, which are the containers that hold metadata information. These tags hold data such as a song's title, artist, the album it came from, track number, genres, songwriter credits, and more.

Metadata is at work whenever you search for a song on services like Spotify or Pandora, when a recommended song pops up for you, or when a record label pays an artist royalties, to name a few examples.

ID3 tags technically refer to MP3 file metadata, but other music files, such as AAC, WMA, and Ogg Vorbis, also have metatags.

View and Change Music Metadata in iTunes and Apple Music

The music metadata in iTunes should be correct. If you notice an incorrect album title or other error, or if you're copying CDs into iTunes and want to add metadata, here's how to view and edit your metadata.

If you have an iTunes library and a Mac with macOS Catalina, view your iTunes media library in the Apple Music app. With older macOS versions or Windows computers, use iTunes.

Back up your iTunes or Apple Music library before making any metadata changes.

  1. Open iTunes or Apple Music and go to your music library.

    iTunes or Apple Music library open to songs
  2. Right-click (or Control-click) a track name and select Song Info or Get Info.

    Right-click (or Control-Click) on a track name and select Song Info or Get Info.
  3. With the Detail tab selected, view or change the song title, artist, album, composer, genre, and more.

    With the Detail tab selected, view the song title, artist, album, composer, genre, and more.
  4. Go to the Artwork tab to see the album's cover art. If, for some reason, you want to replace it with a different picture, select Add Artwork.

    The Add Artwork button in Apple Music
  5. Go to the Lyrics tab to view the song's lyrics. If there aren't any, you can add lyrics by selecting Custom Lyrics.

    The Custom Lyrics option in Apple Music
  6. Go to the Options tab to view or change the type of media the track is associated with. For example, if a podcast is incorrectly labeled Music, change it to Podcast. View or change the song's start and end times, volume, and other details.

    Select the Options tab to view or change the type of media the track is associated with.
  7. Go to the Sorting tab to see how iTunes sorts the song. If there are any mistakes, adjust the information here.

    Select the Sorting tab to see how iTunes sorts this song.
  8. Go to the File tab to see where the track file is stored on your computer.

    Select the File tab to see where the track file is stored on your computer.

View and Change Metadata From Other Sources

If your music library consists of songs obtained from sources other than iTunes or Apple Music, particularly unofficial sources, you won't have the metadata and artwork you may want. Metadata also may have been lost when you transferred music between file formats.

Adding metadata to these types of music files makes the files easier to organize and filter. To do this, use an MP3 tag editor or an editor that covers multiple file formats, including FLAC, OGG, M4A, WMA, and WAV.

Popular choices include MusicBrainz Picard, MP3Tag, TigoTago, MusicTag, and Kid3, which also converts music files into other formats.