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ID3 is a metadata container most often used in conjunction with the MP3 audio file format. It allows information such as the title, artist, album, track number, and other information about the file to be stored in the file itself.
Although ID3 is sometimes referred to as a standard, the term applies only in the de facto sense, as no standardization body was involved in its creation nor has such an organization given it a formal approval status.
- 1 ID3v1
- 2 ID3v2
- 3 Editing ID3 tags
- 4 Non-MP3-implementation and alternatives
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
After the creation of the MP3 standard, there appeared a problem with storing data about the file. Standalone MP3s didn't have any special method of doing this. In 1996 Eric Kemp had the idea to add a small chunk of data to the audio file, thus solving the problem. The method, now known as ID3v1, quickly became the de facto standard for storing metadata in MP3s. The format was released by Damaged Cybernetics, an underground group that specialized in cracking console gaming systems. There was no identifying information for any of the ROMs,[clarification needed] thus an ID tagging system was created to make tracking easier. Eric and associates carried this over into MP3 files. This format was used for a number of file formats unknown at that time.
The ID3v1 tag occupies 128 bytes, beginning with the string TAG 128 bytes from the end of the file. The tag was placed at the end of the file to maintain compatibility with older media players. Some players would play a small burst of static when they read the tag, but most ignored it, and almost all modern players will correctly skip it. This tag allows 30 bytes each for the title, artist, album, and a "comment", four bytes for the year, and a byte to identify the genre of the song from a predefined list of 80 values (Winamp later extended this list to 148 values).
One improvement to ID3v1 was made by Michael Mutschler in 1997. Since the comment field was too small to write anything useful, he decided to trim it by two bytes and use those two bytes to store the track number. Such tags are referred to as ID3v1.1.
Strings are either space- or zero-padded. Unset string entries are filled using an empty string. ID3v1 is 128 bytes long.
|title||30||30 characters of the title|
|artist||30||30 characters of the artist name|
|album||30||30 characters of the album name|
|year||4||A four-digit year|
|comment||28 or 30||The comment.|
|zero-byte||1||If a track number is stored, this byte contains a binary 0.|
|track||1||The number of the track on the album, or 0. Invalid, if previous byte is not a binary 0.|
|genre||1||Index in a list of genres, or 255|
The extended tag is an extra data block before an ID3v1 tag, which extends the title, artist and album fields by 60 bytes each, offers a freetext genre, a one-byte (values 0–5) speed and the start and stop time of the music in the MP3 file, e.g., for fading in. If none of the fields are used, it will be automatically omitted.
Some programs supporting ID3v1 tags can read the extended tag, but writing may leave stale values in the extended block. The extended block is not an official standard, and is only supported by few programs, not including XMMS or Winamp. The extended tag is sometimes referred to as the "enhanced" tag.
Note: The extended tag is 227 bytes long, and placed before the ID3v1 tag.
|title||60||60 characters of the title|
|artist||60||60 characters of the artist name|
|album||60||60 characters of the album name|
|speed||1||0=unset, 1=slow, 2= medium, 3=fast, 4=hardcore|
|genre||30||A free-text field for the genre|
|start-time||6||the start of the music as mmm:ss|
|end-time||6||the end of the music as mmm:ss|
List of genres
ID3v1 pre-defines a set of genres denoted by numerical codes. Winamp extended the list by adding more genres in its own music player, which were later adopted by others. However, support for the extended Winamp list is not universal. In some cases, only the genres up to 125 are supported.
|14||0E||Rhythm and Blues|
|29||1D||Jazz & Funk|
|78||4E||Rock & Roll|
|127||7F||Drum & Bass|
|136||88||Christian Gangsta Rap|
|185||B9||Neue Deutsche Welle|
In 1998, a new specification called ID3v2 was created by multiple contributors. Although it bears the name ID3, its structure has virtually no similarity with ID3v1.
ID3v2 tags are of variable size, and usually occur at the start of the file, to aid streaming media. They consist of a number of frames, each of which contains a piece of metadata. For example, the TIT2 frame contains the title, and the WOAR frame contains the URL of the artist's website. Frames can be up to 16MB in length, while total tag size is limited to 256MB. The internationalization problem was solved by allowing the encoding of strings not only in ISO-8859-1, but also in Unicode.
Textual frames are marked with an encoding byte.
$00 – ISO-8859-1 (LATIN-1, Identical to ASCII for values smaller than 0x80). $01 – UCS-2 (UTF-16 encoded Unicode with BOM), in ID3v2.2 and ID3v2.3. $02 – UTF-16BE encoded Unicode without BOM, in ID3v2.4. $03 – UTF-8 encoded Unicode, in ID3v2.4.
However, mojibake is still common when using local encodings instead of Unicode. In particular, some Japanese editors are known to use Shift JIS encoding, which usually has disastrous effects: it will assuredly not work with any standard-compliant software regardless of local settings (since it is not supported by the standard), assuredly not work outside Japan (since Shift JIS has very little support outside of Japan), and will not even work on all Japanese computers even with a specifically non-compliant reader (as it is software-dependent and settings-dependent).
There are 83 types of frames declared in the ID3v2.4.0 specification, and applications can also define their own types. There are standard frames for containing cover art, BPM, copyright and license, lyrics, and arbitrary text and URL data, as well as other things. There are three versions of ID3v2:
- ID3v2.2 was the first public version of ID3v2. It used three character frame identifiers rather than four (TT2 for the title instead of TIT2). Most of the common v2.3 and v2.4 frames have direct analogues in v2.2. Now this standard is considered obsolete.
- ID3v2.3 expanded the frame identifier to four characters, and added a number of frames. A frame can contain multiple values, separated with a null byte. This is the most widely used version of ID3v2 tags. 
- ID3v2.4 is the latest version published, dated November 1, 2000. Notably, it allows textual data to be encoded in UTF-8, which was a common practice in earlier tags (despite the standard, since it was not supported yet) because it has several noticeable advantages over UTF-16. Another new feature allows the addition of a tag to the end of the file before other tags (like ID3v1). 
Windows Explorer and Windows Media Player cannot handle ID3v2.4 tags in any version, up to and including Windows 8 / Windows Media Player 12. Windows can understand ID3v2 up to and including version 2.3.
ID3v2 rating tag issue
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (February 2014)|
There is a loose de facto standard for implementation of song ratings. Most apps will display 0 to 5 stars for any given song, and how the stars are expressed can vary. For instance, when rating a song in iTunes, the rating is not embedded in the tag in the music file, but is instead stored in a separate database that contains all of the iTunes metadata. Other media players can embed rating tags in music files but some software creates its own tag frame or method. As a result, a song which is rated on one media player sometimes won't display the rating when played on other software or mobile device.
However, there is a "Popularimeter" frame in the ID3v2 specification meant for this purpose. The frame is called POPM and Windows Explorer, Windows Media Player, Winamp, foobar2000, media monkey, and other software all map roughly the same ranges of 0–255 to a 0–5 stars value for display.
The following list details how Windows Explorer reads and writes the POPM frame:
- 224-255 = 5 stars when READ with Windows Explorer, writes 255
- 160-223 = 4 stars when READ with Windows Explorer, writes 196
- 096-159 = 3 stars when READ with Windows Explorer, writes 128
- 032-095 = 2 stars when READ with Windows Explorer, writes 64
- 001-031 = 1 star when READ with Windows Explorer, writes 1
Windows Explorer uses the following syntax:
Windows Media Player 9 Series | 255 | 0
The 0 is the play counter portion of POPM as per the ID3v2 POPM specification, which is not to be confused or conflated with the PCNT frame, which is a separate frame meant entirely for playcounts. If an app supports granularity however, it should write 1 for one full star, and then 2–31 would be granular points under one full star. Notably, the ID string Windows uses is not an email address, as called for in the specifications. Further, Windows Explorer and Windows Media Player up to and including Windows 7 and Windows Media Player 12 (possibly beyond)[clarification needed] contain a bug such that, if one were to use them to rate files, any Replay Gain tags one would have will be corrupted.
The ID3v2 Chapter Addendum was published in December 2005 but is not widely supported as yet. It allows users to jump easily to specific locations or chapters within an audio file and can provide a synchronized slide show of images and titles during playback. Typical applications include Enhanced podcasts and it can be used in ID3v2.3 or ID3v2.4 tags.
ID3v2 embedded image extension
The metadata can also contain images of the following types:
$00 Other $01 32x32 pixels 'file icon' (PNG only) $02 Other file icon $03 Cover (front) $04 Cover (back) $05 Leaflet page $06 Media (e.g. label side of CD) $07 Lead artist/lead performer/soloist $08 Artist/performer $09 Conductor $0A Band/Orchestra $0B Composer $0C Lyricist/text writer $0D Recording Location $0E During recording $0F During performance $10 Movie/video screen capture $11 A bright coloured fish $12 Illustration $13 Band/artist logotype $14 Publisher/Studio logotype
ID3v2 frame specification (Version 2.3)
|ENCR||Encryption method registration|
|EQUA||Equalization||replaced by EQU2 in v2.4|
|ETCO||Event timing codes|
|GEOB||General encapsulated object|
|GRID||Group identification registration|
|IPLS||Involved people list||replaced by TMCL and TIPL in v2.4|
|MCDI||Music CD identifier|
|MLLT||MPEG location lookup table|
|POSS||Position synchronisation frame|
|RBUF||Recommended buffer size|
|RVAD||Relative volume adjustment||replaced by RVA2 in v2.4|
|SYTC||Synchronized tempo codes|
|TBPM||Beats per minute (BPM)|
|TDAT||Date||replaced by TDRC in v2.4|
|TIME||Time||replaced by TDRC in v2.4|
|TIT1||Content group description|
|TOAL||Original album/movie/show title|
|TOLY||Original lyricist(s)/text writer(s)|
|TORY||Original release year||replaced by TDOR in v2.4|
|TPE4||Interpreted, remixed, or otherwise modified by|
|TPOS||Part of a set|
|TRCK||Track number/Position in set|
|TRDA||Recording dates||replaced by TDRC in v2.4|
|TRSN||Internet radio station name|
|TRSO||Internet radio station owner|
|TSIZ||Size||deprecated in v2.4|
|TSRC||International Standard Recording Code (ISRC)|
|TSSE||Software/Hardware and settings used for encoding|
|TYER||Year||replaced by TDRC in v2.4|
|TXXX||User defined text information frame|
|UFID||Unique file identifier|
|USLT||Unsynchronized lyric/text transcription|
|WOAF||Official audio file webpage|
|WOAR||Official artist/performer webpage|
|WOAS||Official audio source webpage|
|WORS||Official internet radio station homepage|
|WPUB||Publishers official webpage|
|WXXX||User defined URL link frame|
The version 2.3 of the standard prescribes that some fields can contain multiple values separated by the "/" character. The fields that can contain multiple values are:
TPE1 TCOM TEXT TOLY TOPE
ID3v2 frame specification (Version 2.4 – delta respect to 2.3)
EQUA replaced by the EQU2 frame IPLS replaced by the two frames TMCL and TIPL RVAD replaced by the RVA2 frame TDAT replaced by the TDRC frame TIME replaced by the TDRC frame TORY replaced by the TDOR frame TRDA replaced by the TDRC frame TYER replaced by the TDRC frame TSIZ deprecated.
ASPI Audio seek point index EQU2 Equalisation RVA2 Relative volume adjustment SEEK Seek frame SIGN Signature frame TDEN Encoding time TDOR Original release time TDRC Recording time TDRL Release time TDTG Tagging time TIPL Involved people list TMCL Musician credits list TMOO Mood TPRO Produced notice TSOA Album sort order TSOP Performer sort order TSOT Title sort order TSST Set subtitle
Version 2.4 of the specification prescribes that the text fields (all the fields starting with a T except TXXX) can contain multiple values separated by a null character. The null character is the one represented by the termination code for the character encoding used.
ID3 tags may be edited in a variety of ways. On some platforms the file's properties may be edited by viewing extended information in the file manager. Additionally most audio players allow editing single or groups of files. Editing groups of files is often referred to as "batch tagging". There are also specialized applications, called taggers, which concentrate specifically on editing the tags and related tasks. Some, such as puddletag offer advanced features such as advanced batch tagging or editing based on regular expressions.
Non-MP3-implementation and alternatives
ID3 tags were designed with MP3 in mind, so they would work without problems with MP3 and MP3Pro files. However, the tagsets are an independent part of the MP3 file and should be usable elsewhere. In practice, the only other format which widely uses ID3v2 tags is AIFF, where the tag is stored inside an IFF chunk named "ID3". The same could be accomplished in WAV, but isn't. The only tagging system in wide usage for WAV is the Broadcast Wave Format, stored as a RIFF chunk. Windows media ASF files (WMA, WMV) have their own tagging formats but also support ID3 Tags embedded as attributes. MP4 also allows the embedding of an ID3 tag, and this is widely supported, especially in Apple's iTunes, which uses MP4 standards in its audio and video file formats. Other container-based formats use their own tagging formats. An example of this is Ogg, which uses Vorbis comments. Adding ID3 tags to these would break the container structure. Earlier versions of Winamp such as 2.xx have been proven able to add ID3v1 and ID3v2 tags to MP1 and MP2 files.
- ID3 History page
- Practical Common Lisp, p. 335.
- For an implementation of ID3v1 in Python, see Dive Into Python, Chapter 5. Objects and Object-Orientation
- The track number is stored in the last two bytes of the comment field. If the comment is 29 or 30 characters long, no track number can be stored.
- ID3 Tag Genre ID List
- Template:Title=ID3 Genre List
- ID3v2 Contributors
- id3v2-00 - ID3.org
- "ID3v2.4.0 Native Frames". Retrieved 2012-12-27.
- Nilsson, Martin. "ID3 Developer Information". ID3.org. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
- Template:Title=ID3 tag version 2.3.0
- Template:Title=ID3 tag version 2.4.0 - Native Frames
- Bright, Peter (28 October 2012). "Music and Video in Windows 8: a work in progress". arstechnica.com. Retrieved 2012-10-29.
- "Microsoft support community". 11 January 2011.
- Newell, C. (2 December 2005). "ID3v2 Chapter Frame Addendum". ID3.org. Retrieved 2008-02-06.
- ID3 Tag Version 2.3.0
- "Windows Media Developer Center: ID3 Tag Support". Microsoft Developer Network. Microsoft. Retrieved 2010-03-24.
- The 'MP4' Registration Authority
- Official site for ID3, including the format specifications
- List of genres in ID3v1
- ID3v1 Specification
- ID3 TAG and Enhanced TAG specification at the Wayback Machine (archived 10 March 2012)
- Side-by-side Comparison of ID3 Versions and Frames at the Wayback Machine (archived 20 June 2012)