How does your CD player know what the track title is? Or more importantly, how to ensure that song titles are displayed correctly. There is confusion as to where this track information is stored. The answer depends on how you are listening to your music. When a CD is played in car, the CD player will read information that is hidden in the disc as ‘CD Text’. CD Text was a method developed in 1996 as an extension to the audio ‘Red Book’ standard. Information such as the artist, song title and other data is encoded along with the music when the disc is manufactured. When you insert a CD that has this metadata, it will be displayed. Support for CD Text is common but not universal. This means that even though the information has been embedded, not every player will display it.
If you are mastering a new CD, then you must add the CD Text information when you create your new disc. Most of the current software for creating CDs such as Nero, Roxio, Toast and even iTunes have the ability to add this information. Information on how to include CD Text information is included in the software manuals for each of these programs. Bbecause this information is encoded in your master, if you decide to change the name of any tracks after the ‘master’ is burned, then a new master will need to be re-made with the updated information.
However, when you play a CD that you know has CD Text on your computer through iTunes, Windows Media Player, WinAmp or virtually any other software player, none of this information is displayed. The reason is that that none of the software players actually use the CD Text information. Rather they collect key data from the CD and then compare it to an online database. Different media players use different databases – Itunes uses Gracenote. Windows Media Player uses AMG.
One of the most popular online database is Gracenote. Gracenote recognizes a disc by analyzing the sequence of tunes on the disc and their lengths. This isn’t foolproof. Occasionally you may see album information from the wrong CD and you have to manually tell it which CD is in the drive. For individual tracks, Gracenote generates a “fingerprint” of a portion of the music file, and thereafter identifies the track with that section.
This information is usually then stored on your computer by your media player as well as the online database for others. It is not encoded on your disc.
Album data can be extensive, and includes album title, artist name, record label, year of released CD, genre, musicians, producers, ISRC, and even label website. Track data include track title, artist name, record label, year of album-released song, credits, genre, subgenre and more.
Tthe information in the database can actually come from anyone: the record label, the artist, or even a fan. Whoever uploads the info first. When someone puts the CD into their computer, if their media player doesn’t find it in the database, the program will ask the user to enter the album and track information and then uploads it to the online database for others to then download when they play their copy of the CD.
How do I submit my CD track information?
There are currently 3 different competing online databases. Gracenote, AMG, and FreeDB. You should at least submit to Gracenote and AMG, but while you’re at it, you might as well do the other. Every database has a different submission procedure.
1. Never submit info completely in capitals or completely lower case, if there is no special reason for that.
2. For bands that have a leading “the”, simply leave out the “the” (e.g. use “Rolling Stones” instead of “The Rolling Stones”)
3. Names of people should be written “first name last name” – NOT “last name, first name”. (John Doe)
4. Use the name of the artist repeated on the “title” field if there is no title (usually seen on an artist’s first major label release, such as with the B-52’s)
5. For a sampler or compilation, you should include the track-artist in the track-name, using the syntax “artist / track-title” and set the CD-artist to “Various”
Gracenote is perhaps the easiest as the information can be uploaded through a routine built into your software player. For instance, the following procedure works with iTunes:
Put your CD into your computer. Click on the first track and select ‘file’, then ‘get info’ and enter the track information (You can also click in the edit fields or, on a PC, hit [ctrl]+[I].) When you have entered all the track information go to ‘advanced’, ‘submit CD track names’, fill in the requested information and hit [OK].
If the CD is not identified, you will be asked if you’d like to submit the information. To submit the information, type the following information in the required fields then click the Submit button.
Once a CD track listing is in the database, anyone playing that CD in a Gracenote powered player (listed above) will have it recognized. It can take up to 48 hours for a new submission to show up.
Full submission of all data (including audio and graphics) are only accepted through the avenue of specialized accounts. This is how songs appear for on-line sale through the various providers. For iTunes, product is only accepted via their iTunes Producer software that does the rip, encode, and meta data formatting, and submits as a full single file uploaded to that labels account. To learn more about CDDB, visit Gracenote .
AMG does not offer any on-line method of adding this information. Instead, send one copy of the product along with any relevant promotional materials, such as press releases and artist photos to:
All Media Guide
1168 Oak Valley Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
Your CD or DVD will go through a data entry and scanning process in which everything from credits to track and chapter listings to cover art will be entered into the database. AMG editors may also assign descriptors such as genres, styles, and moods to the title. Your product will then be stored in our archive in case there is a future need to review, add to, or correct the data. Your product should appear on our web site within 4-6 weeks after we receive your materials.
For more information can be found here.
You will need a freedb-aware program supporting submit. For Windows you can use MAGIX Music Manager, Feurio!, CDex or Audiograbber, for Linux you can use Grip. A longer list of freedb-aware applications can be found on their site. www.freedb.org
Making CD Text Information Readable
It is possible to get software players to read the CD Text information through the use of plugins. The links below will direct you to plugins for iTunes and Windows Media Player that will add this capability to your computer.