I just recently finished a CD, but I haven’t yet decided where to distribute it online. I did press 100 CDs at a local disc duplicator for my release party last month, though, and I’ve sold 50-some already. I was freaked out briefly today, however, when I put one of my lovely new CDs in the computer so I could rip the tracks to MP3s for some promotion I am planning AND ALL THE TRACKS CAME UP TRACK 1, TRACK 2… etc. Had no one noticed this? Why had I not noticed this, for goodness sake?
I know we embedded the metadata in the mastered files for each of the tracks (for hopefully licensing later) – because I made sure that I made a big deal out of this with Stevie’s good friend Garey Shelton, who did the mastering. So what did I fail to do? And OMG, I thought, are all these CDs floating around now WITHOUT THE PROPER TITLES? And what’s worse WHERE WAS MY ALBUM TITLE AND ARTIST INFORMATION??? Have I communicated yet how freaked out I was? I’m a marketing person. I know bad data when I see it. So Stevie was on the phone immediately to Garey and this is what I learned.
It turns out that, after you’ve pressed your CDs, it’s important to take one more step and upload your stuff to the Gracenote CDDB (Compact Disc Database), so that all your identifying information (album title, artist, and track titles) is available to everyone else. You can do this using third party software (Winamp or QMP), or you can just use iTunes (and an internet connection). It’s not very hard to do. Here are the steps:
- Insert the CD (whether homemade, replicated or duplicated from a master image) in your computer CD drive
- Do not import the CD yet
- Select all the tracks, right click and select Get Info
- Click the Info tab and enter the album title, artist name, year and genre
- Right click in each song title fields (Track 1, Track 2, etc.) or double click to edit to the individual track names. Double-check for typos and make sure you have the track order correct.
- When you are all done, click, OK.
- If you want other users to also be able to see the correct album title, artist information, and track titles, highlight all the tracks again, go up to the top menu bar, and click Advanced / Submit Track Names to upload them to the CDDB Database. That’s it.
- If you want the database update to happen a bit faster than a few days, repeat this process from another computer/iTunes account. This speeds the Gracenote “verification” process up because you are essentially “verifying” the database entry from another computer.
Note that entering the title and track information does not “encode” that information on the CD. When you enter the artist and track information for a CD in iTunes, that data is kept in a file on your computer, and when you reinsert that CD later, your computer recognizes the CD and supplies the data in iTunes. If you have followed the instructions above to upload this data to the CDDB website, others who insert the CD – or an exact copy of it – in their computers can see the data if they are running software that can access that database (like iTunes). CDDB matches the data to the CD when the CD has the correct number of tracks of exactly the correct length, so if you edit the CD, you’ll need to upload the data again.
Here’s another tip: In the process of recording a song, you may make multiple versions of the same track. When you are uploading these preliminary mixes of a song to iTunes in order to listen to them, you can use the technique above to enter the correct song track title and artist name, but call the album name something like Mix or Demo instead of the final album name. This avoids confusing all the non-final versions of the same track with the final version. It’s way better than having a billion Track 1 files, too.
I hope this will help you avoid the same sinking feeling I had when I put my CD in the computer today!