Thursday, September 1st, 2022

How to Format Song Titles

Your Guide to Success

Alright, I’ll level with you: metadata formatting isn’t the most interesting thing in the world. But! You’ve come this far! You want to get your music on Spotify, Apple Music, TikTok, YouTube, etc., so let’s make sure you do it right.

Why does title formatting even matter?

First, it’s important to know the stakes: those platforms require song titles to be formatted in a certain way. What happens if they’re not formatted that way? Well, largely, the platform will just ignore any creative capitalization and display it the way they prefer. But as with all things in the indie music game, the more you put out there that doesn’t fit the guidelines of the platforms and your digital music distribution service, the less interested they are in hosting your work. It’s the artisan market metaphor from our article about how long distribution takes. If you keep trying to sell stuff that breaks the market owners’ rules, they’re gonna be less inclined to let you have a booth in the market.

But proper title formatting is also important for your branding and image. Correct song-title capitalization and formatting keeps your music looking professional and official so that your fans can easily find and identify it. Having correct song-name capitalization and formatting sets your official releases apart as professionally released music, rather than just-another-user-uploaded-TikTok-audio.

So we get the why; let’s move on to the how.

How to format your track titles

For song and album titles in English, you’re going to use what’s called Standard Title Casing. This Means Each Word Has a Capital Letter at the Beginning Except Small Words Like as, a, or, and the Like. You can view a more complete list of those small words here in Soundrop’s Help Center. Basically, articles (words like, “a,” “an,” and “the”), prepositions (words like “with,” “on,” “to,”), and short conjunctions (connecting words like “and,” “but,” “or”) need to be in all lowercase. But the rest of the words should start with a capital letter. This kind of capitalization is actually based off of the Chicago Manual of Style (fancy!).

Other languages, however, have different capitalization styles! Swedish, French, and Italian song titles should be in what’s called sentence casing. This means the very first letter of the title should be capitalized, but the rest should be in lowercase letters like you would with any other sentence.

German song titles should be in sentence casing except the first letter of every noun (person/place/thing word) should be capitalized.

Spanish song titles and Portuguese song titles can be in either sentence casing or Standard Title Casing! Your choice!

Smart alternatives to “incorrect” formatting

But what about song titles in all uppercase or all lowercase? Unfortunately, most of the music platforms really don’t love those. Now you may be thinking “But wait a minute, what about XYZ famous artist’s song?!” and to that I say: yeahhhhhh. Unfortunately, major-label artists can sometimes get away with stuff us independent musicians can’t. It’s a bummer, but it’s the reality of the situation.

If you’re hoping to format your titles in all lowercase or all uppercase, I would suggest first figuring out what your intention is. Why do you want to do that? Want your title to seem aggressive in all caps or super chill in all lowercase? Want it to stand out because of the unique formatting? Want to emphasize certain words in your title by making them different from the words around them? There are creative ways to do all of those that still totally fit within the casing requirements. Here are a few of my personal ideas:

  • Creative punctuation: Use punctuation to your emphatic advantage. If you want to emphasize something, instead of popping it in all caps, surround it with parentheses! End it with an exclamation point!
  • Spell it out: If you’re really dying to have an all-caps title, spell out the word with periods or hyphens between the letters instead (think “D-A-N-C-E” instead of just “Dance”).
  • Make the whole title vibes: Don’t just think with capitalization! Make sure your word choice evokes the emotions you want your audience to feel.

While there are guidelines to work within, remember that, overall, the creative freedom for your title belongs to you. Get crafty with it!

Ready to start titling? Click here to make a free Soundrop account and get started today.