The Grammys organizer is giving artists a metadata gold mine to credit unrecognized music workers

The Grammys organizer is giving artists a metadata gold mine to credit unrecognized music workers

Screenshot by Dani Deahl / The Verge

The Recording Academy, the professional association that puts on the Grammy Awards, launched a new campaign today that it’s calling Behind the Record. It’s dedicated to helping spread awareness to various musicians, engineers, and other artists who contribute to popular music but often go unrecognized by the broader culture.

As part of the campaign, the Recording Academy has enlisted popular artists like Anderson .Paak, Billie Eilish, and Diplo to participate by creating a “credit cover” image and sharing it across public social media posts to help bring recognition to the people behind the scenes who made artists’ work possible.

The campaign is dedicated to giving credit to every person who contributed to a track

As part of this campaign, the Recording Academy has partnered with Australian music metadata and authentication company Jaxsta, which boasts more than 100 million officially sourced credits from music labels and distributors across its database. Jaxsta effectively compiles full song credits — who played the saxophone on one track or which engineers contributed to the production on another — and makes it easy to source that info, be it for sample clearance, industry analytics, or initiatives like Behind the Record.

“We are proud to be the data partner for the Recording Academy’s ‘Behind the Record’ campaign as it aligns perfectly with Jaxsta’s mission to give credit to the talented people who create the music we love,” Jacqui Louez Schoorl, Jaxsta’s co-founder and CEO, said in a statement.

Music metadata, which, in theory, should contain all of the underlying credit information for a track, has been an ongoing issue for the music industry in the streaming age. Technical roadblocks to syncing this data across various industry databases have resulted in artists and other key figures in the creation process of music not getting properly compensated for their work.

Here’s how The Verge’s Dani Deahl described the problem in a feature published earlier this year, titled “Metadata is the biggest little problem in the music industry”:

In the music world, metadata most commonly refers to the song credits you see on services like Spotify or Apple Music, but it also includes all the underlying information tied to a released song or album, including titles, songwriter and producer names, the publisher(s), the record label, and more. That information needs to be synchronized across all kinds of industry databases to make sure that when you play a song, the right people are identified and paid. And often, they aren’t.

The music industry is starting to do something about it, thanks to campaigns like Behind the Record and firms like Jaxsta, which, as of this summer, now includes tracks from Merlin, Warner Music, Sony Music, and Universal Music Group. The Recording Academy’s “credit covers” can be easily created on its website by any artist, and they resize automatically to include every person who contributed to the track.

The Behind the Record campaign arrives just a day after fellow Jaxsta partner Pandora launched its full music credits feature, so users on the web or those using its desktop app can click through on a song to see full credits for what Pandora says is “millions of tracks.”