Tagging for Podcasters

Podcasters are notoriously bad taggers. Love the guys but they just don’t complete them and it’s annoying. I am constantly cleaning up after them.

Here I’ve discussed the relevance or irrelevance of all the tags in the iTunes Get Info dialog (Info tab) as they relate to podcasts:

  • Name: The name of the episode. Best when it’s descriptive. Some podcasters include the episode number, which is useful for me to complete the tags when they don’t!
  • Artist: A moot point, but it’s got to be some entity. I would use my own name if it’s a known brand, like C.C. Chapman or Anji Bee. I would use the name of a company if it’s published in their name, like HBO. Some podcasters use the address of their podcast site, like http://www.site.com. I don’t mind, really, as long as it’s always tagged and consistently named.
  • Year: Really, guys, it’s not hard to put this in.
  • Album Artist: Don’t use.
  • Track No. of Total Track No.: I think there’s a time to use these and a time not to. If you’ve got the type of show that rolls on, day after day, I think episode numbers (reflected by track numbers) are unworkable. There are too many shows. Examples of this type of show are Rocketboom and The Onion Radio News. If you have “official” and “unofficial” episode numbers, then don’t use a track number for unofficial episodes. It also doesn’t make sense to use the Total No. tag unless your podcast has a finite number of episodes, like a Podiobook.
  • Album: This should be the name of your podcast.
  • Disc No. of Total Disc No.: The only time you would use this would be for a finite podcast and usually it would be 1 of 1.
  • Grouping: Use if you like. Immaterial in this instance.
  • BPM: Hardly useful, even for a music podcast, as it would probably change over the course of the episode.
  • Composer: No use whatsoever. You’re the artist. Tagging yourself as the composer as well is not useful.
  • Comments: You can put notes here, but iTunes embeds the show’s RSS description in the file, and this is more useful in the Podcast library and on the iPod.
  • Genre: Okay, this one drives me nuts. I suspect that most of you define no genre for your podcast because if one is not tagged, iTunes will tag it as Podcast. This used to be useful because you could quickly find all podcasts in the combined music/podcast library by clicking Podcast in the genre pane. With iTunes 7, this is now redundant. iTunes knows a podcast when it sees one and segregates it into the podcast library. I notice almost all of the podcasts coming off an iTunes feed since the release of 7 have meaningful genres like Music, TV & Film, Comedy, etc. Please use this tag.

Special Note on Artwork

I’ll let all you video podcasters off because iTunes gives your podcasts “album art” by taking a frame a few seconds into the video and using that. Bonus points to video podcasters who bother to tag their episodes with custom album art.

As for you audio podcasters, here’s what an episode without art is saying to your public: “I’m amateur”, “I’m too lazy to create album art”, “I don’t know or care about it”. Some of you have already created album art. I know because you started using it early on, then stopped. Some of you have readily convertible artwork in your site’s design that could be used.

I know that the vast majority of consumers and even podcasters are unaware or uncaring about certain details like this. As a perfectionist I can’t stand it. The fact that it wouldn’t take a lot of effort to include artwork makes it all the more frustrating. I even offered to pay for stock images and design artwork for one podcaster’s show, which I would have also formatted for use on his site but he didn’t even respond. He still doesn’t use album art. That makes me mad. You might get offers like this and you would be mad to turn them down.

If you don’t want to listen to an obsessive who doesn’t have a life, then consider this somewhat more business-oriented viewpoint: If you develop a brand for your podcast, which includes a visual design, don’t you think it would strengthen your brand if your podcast looked like your site? Think about it.


4 Responses to Tagging for Podcasters

  1. tunegardener says:

    As I haven’t done it, I don’t know, but I imagine it’s part of the registration process with iTunes. It must be, actually, because often I’ll see artwork for a podcast in iTunes, then once downloaded, no art. It must be a separate process.

  2. theruckus says:

    I’ve got a question. How do I get my album art to show up for my podcast listing in itunes? Not the artwork that shows up while the episode plays, but rather the artwork that shows up in my itunes listing?

  3. tunegardener says:

    You’ve sent an image to your hosting provider. That’s a separate action. The only way I know how to attach album art is to drag the file into iTunes, then Get Info, click the Artwork tab and drag your image into the pane. While you’re there, make sure your other tags are present and correct in the Info tab.

  4. atkpodcaster says:

    I have a podcast, i’ve made an album art cover using photoshop, i’ve uploaded the image to switchpod as my avatar but it won’t show up as the album artwork in iTunes, any suggestions

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