metadata comments and genre fields

Is the information I put into the COMMENTS field viewable by the public? Does it depend on what kind of device they’re using to hear the song? Would that information show up, for instance, in an ASCAP database? Would it show up on SoundCloud or CD-Baby?

Related to this question is the matter of how to label the genre of the song: Audacity (I’m using 2.3.3 on Windows 7) allows entry of any word in the GENRE field but also offers a drop-down menu of over 200 micro-genres. It seems to me that these pre-set choices are either too vague or too microscopic. Is it possible to put more than one term in the GENRE field? I believe I can add terms to that drop-down list in the metadata editor; but I never think in terms of “genres” when I’m writing and arranging and recording.

The main question here is how can I (as composer and publisher) accurately and specifically promote my songs? How can I help a potential music user find something by providing very specific information about the song instead of just jamming it into some pigeon-hole? I’d be grateful for any illumination of these dark corners. –

Bob at TwoBlackCats

Unfortunately, for most audio formats, metadata is notoriously incompatible from one application to another. For example, for MP3 there are two main versions of metadata (ID3v1.x and ID3v2.x), and hundreds of app specific variations. If your main audience is likely to use a specific media player, then it is generally best to use the tagging facility in that media player. For example, if you want the metadata to look right in iTunes, then use iTunes to create the metadata.

An exception to this is FLAC and OGG format. These both use “Vorbis tags” (“vorbis comments”) which is a well defined standard. Any app that supports FLAC / OGG should display the metadata the same way.

MP3Tag is a good, free, metadata editor that supports many of the most common forms of audio file metadata, including vorbis comments.
As MP3Tag is an app specifically made for managing audio file metadata, it is a lot more powerful and versatile than Audacity’s metadata editor.