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April 18th, 2005  (Updated Nov 14th, 2005)

Formatting ID3 Tags for your listeners by Rob @ podCast411

Some of you may wonder what are ID3 Tags and why should anyone care?

Well ID3 tags are the information in an MP3 file that is displayed in iTunes or on your listeners iPod or MP3 player.  Because the vast majority of people using a MP3 player are on an iPod we will limit our discussion to the iPod (well that and the fact it is the only type of MP3 player we own � So if iRiver or Sony or anyone else wants some publicity send an e-mail to rob@podcast411.com and we will tell you where to mail that free MP3 player).  For adding/editing ID3 tags we will talk only about using iTunes � As it is a free program for both Windows and Mac.

Below is a screen shot of my iTunes window.   The first item highlighted is our podcast from the 26th of March.  You will notice in the lower left our logo is showing up.   Next you will see a Box around a podcast with a song name of �Unknown� and finally there is a box around 6 podcasts of the MacCast.  We will refer back to all of these.

Adding a Logo

First lets look at how to add in your logo to the ID3 tags.  From iTunes if you right click (cntrl click) on the podcast you want to add the logo to and then select �get info� � You will get a pop up window where you can edit the ID3 Tags.

From there choose Artwork.  You can upload a picture (jpg or gif) into the ID3 tags by simply clicking "ADD".

After you have uploaded the picture click ok and you are done.  That is all you need to do to add your logo onto the MP3 file. 

 Editing Names and other Fields

Lets refer back to the Podcast with the Song Name of Unknown, with no other information about what the podcast might be.  Many listeners to your podcast are going to be subscribed to many other podcasts.  So when something like this comes in � there is a good chance it is going to be ignored.  So all your work to clean up audio and script out a show and everything else you did will be wasted because your listeners did not even know your podcast had arrived.  Below you can see that Artist and Album are blank.

If you were to right click on this and get info here is what you would see under �info�

Well at least she labeled it as a podcast (and yes this was a she � and yes she is getting an advanced copy of this tutorial).  But unless I start playing the podcast I would have no idea what it is and who it is by.   This is also the screen where you will be editing your ID3 Tags.  We recommend you enter as a minimum information for Name, Artist, Album and Genre.  We also add in some information in Comments.  Below is a completed form from one of our recent podcasts.  Also per comments from Owyn - we would also suggest you add in the Track number - have it be the same as your episode number.  So below this was the 27th show we did.

In addition to filling in the information above it is important to keep the descriptions in information in Album, Artist and composer the same from show to show.  Why is this important?  Well if you are using an iPod to search for a song.  Your options are to start with Playlist or Browse (see below).

Your options if you choose Browse are per below

By keeping your Artists, Albums & Composers names the same from podcast to podcast, it will make it much easier for your listener to find your latest podcasts.


Designing the Name Field for iPods

Below is a list of podcasts from the Twisted Pickle as they appear in iTunes

Now lets look at this list of Podcasts on the iPod.

As you can see you have no idea on the iPod which podcast is which.

(Note:  I would like to thank Corby for being a good sport and letting us use this info � and he has since changed his format.  Please check out his very funny podcast at www.thetwistedpickle.com )

If you refer back up to the box with the 6 different Podcasts from MacCast � The name fields look like this in iTunes.

Below is what the MacCast podcasts look like on the iPod.

Why did Adam choose this format.  Because Adam knew that on the iPod you only have 16 characters that will display in the menu (Actually if your name is exactly 17 characters long they will all fit, if however the name is 18 characters or more in the spot of the 17th character there will be a ���).  We would suggest taking the date field to six of those characters.  In this format YYMMDD.  This will allow for sorting by name that matches the date. 

There is no reason to go with 2005 (Although it does read better � so I guess that is actually a reason but I digress).  We are well past 1999 and at this time it is safe to say you do not need to worry about 2100.  So a simple 050415 to represent 2005, April 15th.  Will work.  This leaves you with 10 characters for your podcast name.  (It should be pointed out that up until April 11th � we had not followed this advice as we used a 15apr05 format � But that format does not sort well and we have switched to the format of YYMMDD going forward.)

Remember these podcasts will end up on someones iPod with 5, 10, 100+ other podcasts from you � You need to make it easy for the listener to pick out your most recent podcasts. 

If you do not like Dates � You can simply have a number at the end such as

TT Pickle 001

TT Pickle 002

TT Pickle 003�

Finally � We are not saying you have to limit the name of the podcast to under 17 characters.  You actually have 255 characters that will scroll in the display.  But it is the first 16 that show up in the menus.  So you could do something like this for the name of the podcast.

�pdCast411_050209  On todays show our guests will be Paul and Jeanette from the PK and J show.  This is a great show and we recommend you check out their show at www.pkandjshow.com, you can also send them an e-mail at jeanetteandpaul@gmail.com.�

The entire text would scroll on the iPod as the podcast is playing.  But in the menu view they would just see �pdCast411_050209��

Update � November 14, 2005 � iTunes issues

The above ID3 tags work great for all of your subscribers not using iTunes.  However iTunes has decided to take your ID3 tags and replace them with other information from your feed.  Specifically � The Name tag is replaced with the Title Tag from the Item in your RSS feed.   The Album tag is replaced with the Title Tag from the Channel in your RSS feed.  See the picture below,  The first item is from iTunes subscription the second one is from iPodderX.  The ID3 tags are correct for the second one.


When you are playing a song on your iPod (that has a display), you will see the Name, Artist and Album information displayed for a podcast downloaded with an aggregator other than iTunes and Name, Album and Date for a podcast subscribed to in iTunes.  See Pictures below.


Subscribed through iPodderX



Subscribed through iTunes

Name --> From Item Title in RSS Feed
Album --> From Channel Title in RSS Feed

Below is part of the RSS feed.  In there you can see what we are talking about when we talk about the Channel Title and the Item Title.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

<rss xmlns:itunes="http://www.itunes.com/DTDs/Podcast-1.0.dtd" xmlns:pp="http://www.pupuplayer.com/ppexplination-rtf" version="2.0">


    <title>podCast 411 -  Learn about Podcasting and Podcasters</title>



    <copyright>Copyright 2005</copyright>

    <lastBuildDate>Tue, 08 Nov 2005 01:00:00 -0500</lastBuildDate>

    <pubDate>Tue, 08 Nov 2005 01:00:00 -0500</pubDate>


    <itunes:author>Rob @ podCast411</itunes:author>


<title>411 Item 103 Small World Podcast Interview - Voicemail line 206-666-4357 </title>


<enclosure url="http://libsyn.com/media/podcast411/411_051108.mp3" length="11314671" type="audio/mpeg"/>


<pubDate>Tue, 08 Nov 2005 01:00:00 -0500</pubDate>

<itunes:author>Rob @ podCast411</itunes:author>

<itunes:category text="Technology">

       <itunes:category text="Podcasting"/>





When you are picking your Item Title for your RSS feed you need to name it as you would for your Name in the ID3 tags. 

One additional recommendation would be that if you have a Call in number for your listeners to leave feedback such as a k7.net account.  You should include the number in your Name tag for ID3 tags and your Title Tag from the Item section in your feed.  This will allow a listener on an iPod to easily find your call in number to leave feedback.  Remember chances are if the listener is listening on an MP3 device they do not have access to email, but they should have access to a cell phone.  So while they are thinking of giving you feedback, by putting the number where they can easily find it should help increase your listener feedback.  I had thought about recommending that you put the call back number in the Artist field on the ID3 tags,  but with iTunes that would also mean putting it as the Title in the Channel of the RSS feed and that is not something you would want to do.   

I am not sure why Apple decided to replace some of the ID3 tags with information from your RSS feed.  Maybe they felt some people (ie. The Governor of California) would not put in any ID3 tags and this was a way to populate those fields.  Whatever the thought process was it was wrong for Apple to replace the information in your ID3 tags.  But they are the 800 pound gorilla and we must try to get along.


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If you have comments / questions you would like to add please send an email to the address below and we will post comments / questions on this page.

rob  AT  podcast411  DOT  com

Comments / Questions

April 18, 2005 12:18 PM EDT

Name: Peter da Silva

Comments: I would like to suggest putting more detail in the album and less in the track name, it will still scroll in the display but it won't clutter up the track listings as much.

April 19, 2005 11:24 AM EDT

Name: Keeme

Comments:I love this section!!!! I redid all mine lastnight and uploaded them (I hope I did not screw up too many folks). I COULD NOT WAIT TO FIX THEM ALL! YOU ROCK!

May 17, 2005

Name: Owyn
Comments: Very good tuturial.

Two comments.
- Put episode number in track number. It will help with default sorting in playlists.

- Keep album the same for a show in a feed.

Should be mandatory reading for all podcasters.