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August 14, 2005


(the other) Chris Anderson

On Music For Dozens, the site I'm building, we rely on artists to create and maintain helpful metadata about their own music. Accurate tags and descriptions help tremendously in our search-engine listings, so it pays for artists to care for their metadata.

Getting a high level of involvement is much harder for sites, like Rhapsody, which republish the standard catalog of major-label music, because the artists themselves don't have a stake in (or perhaps even knowledge of) their presence on the site. When a music site is built around community, then artists know that tending to their listings and making contact with fans is what will help them stand out in the Long Tail.

At Music For Dozens we're thinking about implementing a wiki-like system for listeners to contribute lyrics and other information about the bands they're following. Our philosophy is that any kind of feedback an artist receives from fans will encourage them to upload more music and otherwise keep up with the site -- personal interaction is clearly the glue that keeps communities like this vital.


I was surprised to see no mention of All Music Guide (allmusic.com). That's where I always go when I want information about a band or artist, including their styles, influences, album and track recommendations, etc.

But I agree that a Wiki-style setup could be ideal.



Still not exactly what you're asking for, but a few days ago the Last.FM site relaunched, and it's a really really exciting service (www.last.fm).

The Audioscrobbler plug-in for iTunes will remember all the tracks you have played so far and store them in your (anonymous) profile. Then, through matching/collaborative filtering you can get recommendations.

And here's the sweet part: you can get a personalized internet radio stream based on these recommendations (or based on any set of artists, if you want to listen to something different).

Tried it out over the weekend, and it works great. Check it out.

Gen Kanai

Discogs.com has a very strict editing policy and while the data that is in there is very, very good, the bar to get the data in there in the first place is very high. I've tried submitting many things and you cannot have even one mistake or mispelling. It's an incredible resource for the user, but quite challenging as a contributor. I assume the Discogs.com guys just want to have the best data, which is why they are sticklers for data accuracy.

One of the challenges why I think discogs.com does not link to any of the download services is that the major services do not cover the niches that make up the bulk of the discogs.com database. You have to go to specialized, niche services like beatport.com to find a catalog that even comes close to matching the discogs.com database. Also, discogs.com covers most of the vinyl for club music, which is obviously not downloadable in it's original format.


There are strong rumours that Apple and Google will shortly be announcing a 'partnership'. Apart from the obvious, I would suspect that what you've just outlined will be part of a joint roadmap that these two are currently developing.

David Sabel

Ultimately, its a lack of meta data that holds everyone back in music, especially related to long-tail artists.

IMDB is so great because they pay a staff of editors to spend their days reviewing the info submitted by their site users, some of whom are movie industry folks.

For music, as Alan mentioned, while All Music Guide does have a lot of what's on your wish list - they are most decidedly not about user submitted content or the long tail. From their own FAQ "While there is definitely a place for user reviews, and many forums, for those reviews, the AMG websites are not that place."

When we started upto11 we looked at all of the available sources of artist info to suplement our P2P user collection based recommendations. Wikipedia was the obvious hands down choice not only because it was free, but becuase given its model (open access to user submissions, peer review), it had the best coverage at the time (mid 2004) of the long-tail artists.

Over time, we expect that to just keep getting better and we are hopeful to be able to integrate full robust links from our site into an on-demand, full-length listen service.

Eric Elia


Have you seen Pandora (formerly SavageBeast), the "Music Genome Project"? They're a local Bay Aera company that is doing some amazing categorization work - including description of the actual music itself, not just the metadata.

From their new site it sounds like there's a private beta in place right now.

Highly recommend you check them out. http://www.pandora.com/radio/corporate/index.shtml


Gavin Suntop

Just for the record, eMusic does allow searching by record label, which is a very useful feature indeed. I wholeheartedly agree that much more meta information and bridging sorely need to be incorporated. I would recommend that all of the "cast and crew" of an album should be crosslinked using the IMDB analogy. Engineers, studio musicians, programmers, producers, should be included. Basically everything in your standard liner notes should be readily available. There really is no excuse for such basic information to be neglected in the crossover to digital distribution.


You're right, there isn't enough metadata. Even so, lists and recommendations from Amazon, iTunes, and music blogs might be more powerful than fully searchable music databases. IMDB has great information, but all that data doesn't lead me to make movie choices nearly as much as recommendations from trusted sources.

Anyway, here's a flash visualization of Amazon's "related artist" info: http://liveplasma.com/

John "Z-Bo" Zabroski

Chris, could you calrify what you mean by "Active Years"? From a database design standpoint, someone could take the year of the artist(s)' first album and last album using a database query, rather than store it in an additional field. However, if by "active years" you also mean touring years, that information would not only be harder to come by most likely, but also more work for researchers.

alex dante

MusicBrainz is one of the better user-editted music dbs I've encountered...but they still use formatting to embed way too much metadata, such as insisting that feature artists be listed as part of the title. A more open, extensible method is definitely needed.


Peer Impact the first pay p2p network is using All Music Guide but they are still ingesting contnent becuse they are new service they currently have over half a million songs .
No Music Discovory service yet but it is probably in the works


They have also recently announced a consumer ingestion platform so anyone who is a artist or Podcaster can submit contnent to the network.


BBC Radio and New Media guy Dan Hill wrote about just such a system a while ago. While I think Amazon-style user-generated lists can go a long way here, Dan considered the issue in light of something called "faceted classification", an information organization technique that can accomodate this sort of arbitrary groupings. As I remember he talked about wanting to make groupings like "bands with great second guitar players" or "great beards in rock."

See Dan's post "Music's Rich Facets":


Another interesting way of relating music is via the history of samples: http://jessekriss.com/projects/samplinghistory/

matt g

Chris --

One of the big reasons the major services like ours (Rhapsody) don't provide much of the info you're asking about is that it's not provided to us as metadata by our label partners (either majors or indies). Indeed, in these heady days of direct digital feeds from the labels, in many cases we don't even have copies of the actual CD on hand to consult the liner notes if we wanted to enter it by hand. Further complicating the issue, the labels would need to standardize on a way to track and provide that info; if 1,000 labels provided that data but did so in wildly different ways, it would be nigh impossible to offer it through Rhapsody. Just some perspective from the frontlines. :)


Jan-Willem Janssen

Hi, I think that www.progarchives.com is a good example of a user driven, nice music service. People that like progressive rock can find complete info on artists and albums that can be categorized to this kind of music, and you can discover all kinds of new groups here. This is a kind of 'online community' model. To bad that I can't download the songs I read about, because then this would be a almost perfect music service for me

Taylor Ford

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What didn’t work to well for you on the “browse” feature on Twiturm or maybe why didn’t it would be a better way of wording it.

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The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Notes and sources for the book

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