Creating order from chaos
April 16, 2008 9:51 AM   Subscribe

Do we know of a web service where I can feed a song title and artist in the front, and get one single canonical answer to the question of when it was first released?

I'm trying to sort out a large (several thousand tracks) music library for an EU-based non-profit radio station.

An alarmingly-high percentage of the tracks in it don't have dates attached to the recording. That's annoying for a number of reporting reasons, but also because there's probably enough songs released before 1957-12-31 in there for them to put together an internet-only oldies station and not have to pay the record companies for the privilege. Most of those songs won't have ISRC numbers either.

I've looked at scrobbler, musicbrainz, and a few other services. Everything I've found thus far either a) doesn't have a date or b) has the date of some much-later CD reissue or c) returns a large number of results, which would require human intervention to decide which is the right answer. Obviously I'm not keen on doing that seven or eight thousand times.

Web services, downloadable databases, command-line programs or scripts... I'm doing most of this work in Linux against a database with shell scripts so any of those would do.

To recap: I want a match on artist and song title, and the earliest release date, and nothing else.

I doubt I'm the first person to have this problem. Any ideas from the collective?
posted by genghis to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Their site is a bit wonky at times, but it's the resource you're looking for.
posted by Koko at 10:24 AM on April 16, 2008

Response by poster: Got a link which would demonstrate that?
posted by genghis at 12:03 PM on April 16, 2008

I don't know of any more authoritative site than Allmusic. I know they are not as comprehensive as the print catalogs that record stores used to have access to.

On the flipside, I don't know of a better service than Musicbrainz for attaching the information it has (which is even less, and of lesser quality, because it's user-submitted and user-massaged) to MP3s. If you get into the Musicbrainz forums you quickly discover tagophiles with more spare time and more specific knowledge of releases (on a per-artist basis, anyway) than anyone you've ever met in person.

That's been my experience, anyway.
posted by dhartung at 12:17 PM on April 16, 2008

Got a link which would demonstrate that?

Scroll down to bottom

Basically the site works as follows:

type song title in the search box
select "song" from the drop-down menu, click "go"
select the song title you want from the list of possible hits (ordered from most likely to least)
this will bring up a page listing info about the song, including all albums it's appeared on, and their release dates
It may take a bit longer to get to the specific song page you want, depending on how many artists have recorded the song.

It's a bit more info than you asked for, but you'll definitely get accurate release dates.
posted by Koko at 12:30 PM on April 16, 2008

Response by poster: Well, thanks.

But having been there before, the need for major manual intervention (eight thousand lookups, remember), the lack of any artist+title search, and that the search results still don't list any artists (requiring one to open a new page for each and every possible result), and that page still doesn't -- for example -- list anything within sixteen years of the right answer for the original version of 'Tainted Love'), and that there's no web service or API at all... why I came here asking for something more useful.
posted by genghis at 3:52 PM on April 16, 2008

This looks promising: Music APIs and Mashups Dashboard
LastFM's API.
posted by signal at 10:20 AM on May 16, 2008

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