26.7.06

Finding Music info on the Web


As you know, I'm quite an enthusiast of both technology and music. So, I've decided to write a brief analysis of several music services on the Web. There are serveral services for several purposes, so I'll just talk about some of them, and I have no plan on which ones, I'll just let it flow... This first post on the issue is about "Finding Music info on the Web".

Google logoFirst of all, let's talk about services that let you find music, info about artist and so on. My personal and unfounded view on the way most people search for music is just based on the experience of some people I know, so I might be wrong, but since most people use Google to find info, they also use it when the info is on music. So, sometime ago, they decided to enhance music searches by creating Google Musicsearch, but it was a flop: if you try to go now to the Musicsearch page you'll get a 404, and the only way of seeing it is searching for music in the usual Google search. If you search, for instance, for "Marilyn Manson", the first result you'll get is a link with that goes to musicsearch and shows you what artists are known for that musician, what albums were made (whithout any order) and which songs are known. While this might be pleasant to see in general searches, I don't think this is of any use for someone searching for, let's say, an artist: since this info was crawled and indexed, is incorrect, incomplete and doesn't give the important data, but the known data instead. I'll only search on Google about an artist as a last resource (and for those Google does not know that that search key is an artist) or when I want to find it's official page, and Google sucks on that. I talked about Google Music Search last year.

Amazon logoSo, if Google doesn't fit, what does? I was between surprised and shocked to know that lot's of people use Amazon for their musical searches needs. But then it just came onme: if Google sucks on this, where will people search about music? The answer "in a music store" suddenly sounded quite obvious to me - after all that's what people do offline, right? But searching about music on Amazon also sucks. First of all, they only have info on stuff they have on stores. Then, you have no info on the band at all, only on their releases. But there are some things that are really annoying: searching on Marilyn Manson, for instance, will give me 226 results (which already annoys me because it seems that they have more CD's from Marilyn Manson than I do, oh the envy!), so I try to sort them by "release date": I'm not really interested in knowing what are the bestsellers in a band I already have lot's of stuff. So, I ordered the list by "Release Date: Old to New", and the results come like this: first an 2001 CD, then a 1994 one, from item 9 to 10 we have a leap from 1998 to 1996... Their "ordered by release date" is badly labeled, and in truth is "ordered by database insertion date". Sucks. Thenm from those 226 results are really valid? For instance, we get two entries for the same single...

Pandora Backstage logoSome time ago, Pandora released it's Pandora Backstage (as I reported earlier). Pandora Backstage works as a Music search engine - exactly what we were talking about, and works better doing it than the previous sollutions. You can do a general search, search by artist or by song. For instance, and to give the earlier example of Marilyn Manson, searching for it gives us a four paragraph (quite good!) biography of the band (from "All Music Guide") and a section of "selected discography", where they have a list of all CD's they have in their systems (since Pandora's business isn't "backstaging"), ordered by release date, but this time the real release date and in inverse order (from recent to old). Choosing a CD will lead us to another page with info about that CD. Unfortunately the "selected discography" doesn't link to all the CD's they have info about but only those they have songs from, so if you're looking for a specific CD it can suck. Thumbs up for having an easy way of hearing samples from some songs or from an entire CD, and to their section of one-click actions: create a pandora station around that song/album/artist, e-mail that info to someone, and/or buy that CD or track.

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