How to properly add ID3 tags to audio podcasts – TAP052

ID3 Editor

What are ID3 tags?

When play a song in any program or portable player, you've probably noticed information that displays with that track:

  • song title,
  • track number,
  • album title,
  • artist name, and
  • picture of the album.

All of this information displays no matter what the file name is.

This is called metadata. It's attached to the file through ID3 tags.

There are several versions of ID3, each offering an additional set of tags or ways to contain information. Older ID3 versions (1.x) couldn't hold many characters in a single tag. But newer versions hold a lot more information in each tag and offer more tags.

Why are ID3 tags important?

If it wasn't for your ID3 tags, then someone who downloads “podcast001.mp3” would never see important information:

  • the name of the episode,
  • chronological order of the episode,
  • the podcast it belongs to,
  • what the episode is about, or
  • the podcast cover art (what displays when an individual episode is played).

Some of this is auto-generated by iTunes when it downloads your file from your RSS feed. But it's always best to manually tag every file so you can be the most compatible.

Software to edit ID3 tags

Popular media players like iTunes, Windows Media Player, and VideoLan Client (VLC) Player can edit ID3. But they don't do it very well. Each uses their own version and this means some information may not show up for your listeners. You can sometimes convert the tag version in these media players, but they won't write in that right version by default.

The following software works great across all platforms and uses the more compatible ID3 version 2.3.

ID3 tagging for Windows

ID3 tagging for OS X

ID3 tagging for Linux

Thanks to “Curbuntu” for sharing these.

What to enter in which ID3 tags

Don't be overwhelmed by the number of fields you can fill out. Only a few are the most important (some may not even be included in your tagging application).

  • Track: your episode number. This will help sort episodes chronologically if a player doesn't read the published or modified dates.
  • Title: your episode number and title, just like your blog post. For example, “AYJW027: Courageous (2011).”
  • Artist: the name(s) of the episode host(s) or name of your network.
  • Album: the title of your podcast (remember, this is your whole show, not just an individual episode).
  • Year: the year of release.
  • Genre: pick what is most appropriate or “Podcast.”
  • Comment: a short summary of your episode. This could be the same as your WordPress excerpt, or simply the web address to your shownotes.
  • Copyright: your copyright information. I recommend writing it like, “© 2011 D.Joseph Design”—note that “by” is not necessary, and the symbol should aways precede the year. Not all tagging programs have this.
  • URL: your shownotes web address. Not all tagging programs have this.
  • Cover / picture / album art: your podcast cover art. If you don't have any, hire me to design it for you!

If you have the option to copy the data from the above version 2.3 tags to the version 1 tags, do it. In ID3 Editor, this is as easy as pressing a little button. Other programs will do this automatically.

iTunes overwrites some tags

You may notice that you edit your tags in a certain way, but iTunes changes them to something else. That's because iTunes will differ to the RSS feed for some information.

Overriding this is easy, and sometimes optimal for customizing exactly what you want shown.

  1. Use Blurry PowerPress Podcasting plugin.
  2. In WordPress admin, go to PowerPress > Basic Settings.
  3. Under “Podcast Entry Box,” checkmark the additional fields that you may want to change with each episode.
    • Keywords
    • Subtitle
    • Summary
    • Author
  4. Click “Save Changes.”

Again, iTunes will automatically pull these from your feed if you don't manually change the data.

Changing the iTunes episode summary

The most important of these, and maybe the only field you need to care about, is the summary field. By default, this will be the entire contents of your blog post or your excerpt, depending on how you publish your RSS feed (Settings > Reading > “For each article in a feed, show”).

If you use WordPress's “More” functionality to display “excerpts” instead of writing separate excerpts. Then iTunes would still grab the entire blog post.

Overriding this by enabling the Summary field would let you write a more optimal summary for iTunes, iPod, and iPhone listeners.

  • Bullet-point list of topics
  • Short or memorable links to off-site content
  • Feedback information

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About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his son live near Cincinnati.

44 comments on “How to properly add ID3 tags to audio podcasts – TAP052

  1. Wallys Modcast says:

    Ok ok ok, So i finished with everything, Got my tagged mp3 onto a media host put the link into blog. Player on blog post works. got feed burner working and my feed validated. When i sumbit to itunes i get the error there is no episodes in this feed… Now what?

    1. You're using the Soundcloud player. Your posts have to link to an actual media file, not use embedded code.

      If you're not using PowerPress to insert your podcast episodes, then you should use Feedburner > Optimize > SmartCast > "Create podcast enclosures from links to any rich media file." But this still requires that you post link directly to the media file.

      PowerPress and Feedburner will take the media and turn it into an enclosure, which is a specific tag iTunes and other podcatchers need in order to recognize the feed as a podcast.

  2. Wallys Modcast says:

    So how do I post directly to a media file? And still have it create a player on the post? sry

    1. Install the Blubrry PowerPress plugin and follow its instructions to setup. Then, copy the URL of your media file into the Podcast Episode box in your post window. I think they have some video tutorials, too.

      BTW, it may be easier to track this conversation if you click Reply to keep everything threaded.

      1. Wallys Modcast says:

        Although the blubrry plugin, Or any plugin does not work with a .wordpress site….

        1. Wallys Modcast says:

          Soundcloud allows you to share directly with WordPress so I tried that as well as putting the direct link into my post. Both make a player in the post. Both didn't work. Looks like I will have to wait till I can get a self hosted wordpress so I can use that blubrry plugin. Thanks again for all the help Daniel!

          1. Define "doesn't work." Feedburner caches things, so you may have to Resync under Troubleshootize.

          2. Wallys Modcast says:

            Yeah, I did try the resync. Dosent work like in Itunes when you go advanced-subscribe to podcast and enter the feed url. then it shows my podcast but can not play. I see the description and episode # but no album art or ability to play. This is Itunes way of checking to make sure your feed is valid to submit…. Other than that i have followed everything you have said to do from converting to mp3 and adding tags.

          3. The problem is that the link you put in is still not a direct link to your MP3 file. It goes to… which is a web page, not an MP3 file.

            You still need a directly downloadable link. If SoundCloud doesn't provide this, consider using or DropBox's public folder to host your files for now.

          4. Wallys Modcast says:

            OK ill give it a go. Sorry for the trouble.

          5. Wallys Modcast says:

            Ok i figured it out. The link has to be to a .mp3 not just to a url where you can listen. I get it now <—-Noob Thanks daniel, Kepp up the great work. I owe my (now submitted) podcast to you!

          6. You're welcome! I'm happy to have helped.

  3. Good post, Great looking site – Thanks

  4. Brenda Talbot says:

    Thanks for the helpful info, Daniel. Wonder if you can shed light on this problem. Our website has an RSS feed generated by a PHP template, with the iTunes podcast metadata added by FeedBurner. The podcast works great, except the individual episodes don’t show any artwork, just the generic podcast icon. The custom artwork for the podcast as a whole appears in the iTunes Store, and that’s what I’d like to see also with the individual episodes. I don’t want to have to tag each episode by hand, though, since it’s the same artwork for every episode. Any ideas?

    1. Hi, Brenda! Actually, you will have to tag each episode by hand. That’s the only way to do it for each episode. However, ID3 Editor ($15 for Windows or OS X) makes this easier by allowing you to quickly copy and paste from one MP3 to another, or load the tag data from another MP3.

      1. Brenda Talbot says:

        Thanks for the quick reply.

  5. Just wanted to let you know, ID3 Tag It ( can copy and paste tags and is a free option for those on Windows 🙂

    1. Thanks! But it looks like that developer has ceased progress on the app.

  6. Thanks for the ID3 lesson. But how in the world do you type the “proper” copyright symbol in ID3 Editor? [ALT]+0169 and [CTRL]+[ALT]+C do not work, they both give the keyboard error “Ding” sound.

    1. Nevermind… [ALT]+0169 does work when you use the number keypad instead of the number row below the function keys.

  7. obisgirl says:

    I did a quick google search for Mac and found it’s open source 🙂

  8. Operation Cobra Cast says:

    Hey, Daniel!

    I’ve updated our images, but since we normally post as enhanced .m4a files, I’m still having trouble getting our artwork to show up in iTunes when using the .mp3 format (which we’re using for the summer).

    I tried the iTunes option of adding the artwork as well as And, while it added the artwork to the file on my drive, the artwork isn’t showing up in iTunes. Does it take a while to update or am I still doing something wrong?

    Would love your input if you have suggestions. Thanks!

    – Rebecca

    1. Hi, Rebecca!

      It sounds like you’re changing the cover art in only one of the three places.

      Check out “How to add or change your podcast cover art” for more information, or watch the following YouTube video.

      1. Operation Cobra Cast says:

        The weird thing is that I have already have my 144×144 and 1400×1400 images updated.

        I use Feedburner and and have this 144×144 image in the Feed Image Burner tab:

        And, I have my 1400×1400 ( in the SmartCast podcast image location.

        1. Yes, I just checked your RSS feed and it looks fine. It can sometimes take iTunes up to a day or so to update.

          1. Operation Cobra Cast says:

            Your video was so helpful and easy that I got confused when it didn’t work 🙂 I figured it might be a time-related thing. I’ll keep an eye on it.

            Thanks for taking a look!

  9. Gus says:

    I recommend always setting Genre to “Podcast”. Some devices will not recognise the file as a podcast without doing this, and may not organise the podcasts correctly (treating the files as music).

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