In short, an ID3 tag provides information about your podcast to the listener. To expand on this, here is an explanation from the ID3v2Easy...
ID3v2 is a tagging system that lets you put enriching and relevant information about your audio files within them. In more down to earth terms, ID3v2 is a chunk of data prepended to the binary audio data. Each ID3v2 tag holds one or more smaller chunks of information, called frames. These frames can contain any kind of information and data you could think of such as title, album, performer, website, lyrics, equalizer presets, pictures etc.
Without proper ID3 tags, your podcast will look unprofessional when synced on a player, and your listeners will not have the information they desire about your podcast.
Here is an example of some podcasts on my iPhone. Can you tell which podcast is missing complete ID3 tags?
The EVworld.com does not have what is called "album art" in the ID3 tags. When this podcast is played, I see that ugly default image. Not good. Fortunately, that podcast does have other ID3 tags like the title of the podcast. Without proper ID3 tags your podcasts will not sort properly on your listener's devices, and could be very annoying.
Creating Proper ID3 Tags
There are many ways to do this depending on the software you use. I will show you how do this using iTunes, which can both be done on the Mac and PC.1) Drag and drop or open your MP3 podcast file in iTunes.
iTunes actually has a very good ID3 tag editor built in that makes updating your files easy. Unfortunately, applications like Garageband for the Mac do not put complete ID3 tags in your files so that is why this step is necessary. 2) Select your podcast and press play
. If you podcast is not selected you will not be able to drag your album art. I have found that only if I am playing the podcast in iTunes then I could drag the artwork 100% of the time.3) Drag your artwork or "album art" to the space provided in iTunes.
It is easiest to have your album art on your desktop for this. Should a .jpg image exactly 300x300px.4) Right click on the podcast name and select the "Convert ID3 Tags..." menu option.
5) Select the "2.3" version of the ID3 tags. Currently, this version is the most compatible with all current Mp3 players. If you choose 2.2 or lower, you will miss out on album art in iTunes. If you choose 2.4, it will not be compatible with many Windows-based players.6) Now drag your podcast from iTunes to your desktop.
This is your completed podcast file with the proper ID3 tag formatting.
Advanced ID3 Tag Settings
The above example showed the basics. If you are using Garageband or similar podcasting software that does allow you to set basic ID3 tags (like title of podcast, author, etc.) then this all you need to do. However, if you really want to add loads of information to your podcast, including lyrics (or in the podcasting world, "shownotes"), simply right click on the podcast in iTunes and select the "Get Info".
There you will see the option of setting many ID3 tags. Be sure you drag the new file to your desktop after you set the tags.
Once again, just about any good podcasting/MP3 playing software lets you set ID3 tags. If you are not using iTunes, do a Google search for how to set ID3 tags with the software you do use.
Bo Bennett, PhD
Social Scientist, Business Consultant
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