How to Give Away MP3s

Since my band of the day thing is all about bands from whom you can download officially sanctioned songs, I thought I’d give a suggestion to every musician/band/record label that is freely offering up MP3s. Fill out the freaking ID3 tags!!! Seriously, this is wildly important. Consider the use case. Someone like me has a folder full of MP3s they consider interesting enough to download. Some of them stick around forever, some get deleted. Over time, all of them get separated from their original context and become like the box I have of unlabeled cassettes. If the file has no info in the ID3 tags and is named “Song7526.mp3”, it is impossible to pursue it further. If I run back across this and decide “Damn, I love this. I want to buy this CD”, you the label and the musician are screwed. I have no way to do that. If I’ve forgotten where it came from and who it is then the game is over. It remains an unidentified mystery clip for the rest of eternity and you’ve lost business.

If you are using tools that don’t make it easy to edit or create ID3 tags, take the extra step and find some tools. There are little freeware programs that do nothing but edit the tags. WinAmp does this for free, so do others. Take the extra step. Fill out everything! Put in the band name, the album name, the year, the copyright information. Don’t abbreviate crazily, fill out the V1 and V2 tags. There is more stuff in the V2, and fill out every bit that you can. Put in the URL (pay the $8 to or some other registrar and get a permanent domain that you control too, don’t put in some “” URL that will change the next time you move.) There is one driving force behind all these suggestions, something that sadly many artistic minded folks forget: Make it easy for folks who like your stuff to give you money. I couldn’t count the number of musicians I know who bust their asses to write songs, get them recorded and then completely fall apart on the details of getting them into fan hands and taking their money. People like you, people want to support you, give them the information they need to do that.

Also, assume that at some point these files will be travelling down paths you didn’t intend. Someone is borrowing a friends computer, or they saved your files to their Kazaa shared directory or whatever. Someone is going to get your song on their computer entirely separate from you and any context. If this person likes you, you want them to find out more about you. For gods sake, make it easy to get new fans. Seriously. This shit is important. Fill out the tags, friends.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father.

2 thoughts on “How to Give Away MP3s”

  1. hey speaking of Mp3s we have a live mp3 on our site now from our july 4th show. I dont think the tags are filled out, maybe I should do that!

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