An MP3 file contains not only the actual audio, but also information about that song called metadata. You can think of metadata as a small database associated with each song, within that database, there are tags that identify that Song's Name, the Artist, Album, Musical Genre, Release Year, and a lot more. Obviously those tags tell more about the file than a file name ever could. You can have an MP3 called jjbr#$.mp3, but as long as it has accurate tags your iPod will identify it as Electrolux by SNEW of the What's It To Ya Album.
The most common metadata fields added to MP3 files are the track title, the artist that recorded that track, which album the track belongs to, the track number from the album, the year that the track was published, the genre of the track like speech or rock or pop, additional notes about the track, a copyright notice by the copyright holder and a thumbnail of the album art or artist. In addition of these common fields other data can be included, such as web addresses, composer, conductor, orchestra, other things as well.
Although we mostly associate metadata with MP3s, it's also supported by Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, AAC, Windows Media Audio, and a few other file formats that aren't used that often. It's critical that the metadata be accurate, otherwise an MP3 player may not be able to sort or identify songs correctly. So make sure that you take the time to fill in all the metadata fields before you release your MP3 to the world. Even though there are plenty of MP3 editors that allow listeners to insert the data after the fact, wouldn't you prefer that it comes from you?
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