CD Masters and Metadata

A vitally important part of the mastering process involves ensuring that your masters are encoded with the proper metadata.  There are three main types of metadata for CD masters:


The CD-Text specification allows for the storage of additional information (e.g. album name, song name, and artist) on an audio CD.  This info is viewable on compatible hardware cd players.  Currently it is most often seen as a scrolling display on automotive cd players. 

Contrary to popular belief CD-Text is NOT what makes artist/album/song info appear on computer media players like iTunes.  That requires additional work once the manufactured cds are in hand, usually handled by the record label or independent artist themselves.  To that end we have created this short guide.

ISRC Codes

An ISRC is a unique and permanent 12 character alpha-numeric code assigned to each song on an album (or single).  Encoded ISRCs provide the means to automatically identify recordings for royalty payments.  Although it is not a requirement to encode ISRCs on your master, they will be needed to place your songs with digital distribution services like iTunes or CDBaby.

ISRCs are assigned by the master rights owner of the recording, usually the record label or independent artist.  You will need to supply your ISRCs to us during the mastering process if you wish to have them encoded on your masters.   

Independent artists may apply online to administer their own ISRCs (it's fast and free).

Click here for more detailed ISRC info from CONNECT Music Licensing.

 UPC/EAN Barcode

CDs destined for retail sale will typically require a UPC or EAN barcode displayed on the outer artwork or packaging.  This number can also be encoded on the cd itself, though it is not a requirement.


Digital Masters and Metadata  

Digital masters are typically tagged with the following info at minimum:

- artist name
- album title
- song titles
- year of release

Other optional tags you may want to consider including:

- genre
- album front cover artwork (jpg, 1400x1400)


Vinyl Masters

Vinyl masters require a Matrix Number.  This number is inscribed into the dead wax at the centre of the master lacquer, and identifies the record as it makes its way through the manufacturing process.

Typically it is the label release code followed by the side designation (A, B, etc).   

For example, Ant Records release number 16 would have the Matrix Numbers ANT016-A and ANT016-B for the A and B sides respectively.