Student Tony Brooke Blazes Trail in Defining Entertainment Industry Metadata Standards
Tony Brooke

Student Tony Brooke’s work as an audio engineer gave him a front-row seat to observe changes in the music and other entertainment industries in recent years, including the technology used to record, store and share media. So with a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree under his belt, he’s added digital media asset management to his skills and now helps companies handle their large audio and video collections.

“For a lot of my career I’ve been creating media, and I see a lot more opportunity for curating and handling media than creating it,” Brooke said. “There’s a lot of media being created, and not many people are addressing what to do with it after it’s created.”

Brooke, who graduated in May 2014, is working to establish a new metadata standard for the music industry. According to Brooke, credits listing people who worked on recording projects used to be printed on album liner notes, but in a digital environment, that information doesn’t get passed along to the consumer. “When you download a track today, you don’t get any information at all,” he said. “So I’ve been helping to further this work to create a schema for how information is transmitted.”

Brooke received the Shirley Hopkinson Award in the Organization of Information, one of the awards given to graduating SLIS students who demonstrate academic excellence and professional promise. He conducted research focused on media asset management and audiovisual data while in the MLIS program, and his article titled “Open Source Integrated Library Systems in Public Libraries” was published in January 2014 in the SLIS Student Research Journal.

He’s also had an article published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Digital Media Management. Titled “Descriptive Metadata in the Music Industry: Why It Is Broken and How to Fix It,” the paper grew out of a report Brooke wrote for a course assignment and continued researching after completing the course. It extended previous research in this area, and showed “that richer metadata in library catalogs spurs discovery and increases circulation,” he said.

In addition, Brooke completed an independent study project titled “The Media Asset Management (MAM) Marketplace,” consisting of a database, website, screencasts, and report about this audiovisual subset of digital asset management. The resulting MAM systems guide is now public at www.silentway.com/mams.

Brooke said his research “has opened many doors” for him professionally. These include acceptance as a full member of the DDEX (Digital Data Exchange) standards consortium; being asked to serve on a national Credits Committee of The Recording Academy – the organization that awards the Grammys – and elected to its San Francisco chapter’s board of governors; and being invited to speak on a panel at the SFMusicTech conference. He’s also signed two consulting agreements for music technology companies.

Brooke, who earned his bachelor’s in psychology from Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., has been an audio engineer in San Francisco since 1992, specializing in remote multitrack recording. Through his company Silent Way, he has more than 90 releases in his discography -- including two Grammy-nominated albums -- and 500 clients. He started our school’s MLIS program in fall 2011, and worked for two years as a student assistant on the SLIS Web team.

Over the last few years, Brooke sometimes has felt he’s “trying to bring two worlds together, because the entertainment business hasn’t been very proactive at information management, and information professionals don’t typically have a background in the entertainment business. So I kind of wanted to be that person who’s part of both worlds.”

Influential Classes

“LIBR 282 Digital Asset Management was very instrumental to me, and LIBR 259 Preservation Management was very good as well. It gave me a lot of perspective on how well we’re doing at keeping what we’ve got, and the answer is not very.”

Career Tip

“It would be good for people to think outside the box and look at other industries, and you may find they need help with their information as well. The MLIS program really stressed the fact that these skills cross all industries. If you start talking with people about how they’re managing their information, they’ll say, ‘My company doesn’t do a very good job of doing that.’ Everybody needs it in a certain way.”

Tech Tips

“Whenever possible, stick to open standard file formats. Proprietary software is so short-lived. You don’t want to box yourself in to any particular format, because in a few years, that format will change. Open standard file formats would be things like pdf or txt files, rather than Word or Excel. That way, it has a little more shelf life.

“Also, if you’re writing papers, a free citation management website called https://www.zotero.org/ handles all the formatting for you. It’s really helpful to not have to do that manually.”

Professional Affiliations

National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (aka The Recording Academy); DDEX (Digital Data Exchange); Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC)

Best Conference

“A local conference here called the SFMusicTech Summit. I’ve attended that a few times, and was asked to speak on panels a few times. It’s a cross-section of the music industry and the Bay Area/Silicon Valley tech industry. Silicon Valley is a much bigger part of the music industry these days. Nowadays, the music industry is mostly a tech industry.”

Favorite Websites

www.musicbrainz.org; https://www.zotero.org/