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ARSCLIST  January 2012

ARSCLIST January 2012

Subject:

Re: Interesting Article on iTunes and Classical music in yesterday'zs WSJ

From:

"Nelson-Strauss, Brenda" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 6 Jan 2012 15:56:19 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (49 lines)

"Perhaps someone within our organization, or a group of us, might plan a model"

I would point again to www.classicalarchives.com as mentioned in the article - an excellent model. 

On the other hand, nothing worse than sites like Spotify for finding classical music. Composer? What's that?  

Brenda

-----Original Message-----
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Alex McGehee
Sent: Friday, January 06, 2012 10:21 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Interesting Article on iTunes and Classical music in yesterday'zs WSJ

Tom, a little late commenting on your fine analysis of the problems with iTunes, Gracenote and the like. I've been building a classical library of some 15,000 items from scratch. I can barely use Gracenote for an indication of where the particular work is. And of course as you mentioned, everything has to be rewritten. Despite the small sales in classical records, I would bet someone in these companies would get the fact that they are hurting any potential marketing growth they might have by employing this worthless system. Perhaps someone within our organization, or a group of us, might plan a model and a approach for the big boys, saying in effect, "Take a little time, get this right, and your sales will improve because people will be able to see the sense of why the music is organized as it is, and especially have easier access to it. Most people wander into classical completely unaware of how to go about finding what they want. This is what happened when the well-informed record clerk vanished from sight. Ah, Technology! You giveth and you taketh away, but you taketh away a lot!

Across the board, merchants, dealers and on-line purveyors, classical magazines (perhaps with the exception of the Gramophone Archive) due a lousy job of organizing their wares. Stupid! And bad business.  Maybe there's an opportunity for ARSC to gain some publicity and attract attention with a newly announced standard for universal adoption that comes with an ARSC seal of approval? Otherwise, we are going to continue along the path of a moribund journal that appeals to a very narrow band of members. Nothing risked, nothing gained.

Thanks for your great thoughts as always.

-- Alex McGehee

On Jan 5, 2012, at 4:58 PM, Tom Fine wrote:

> Hi Steve:
> 
> Thanks for the link. I missed this article.
> 
> This ties in to my general complaint about the sorry state of the "auto-metadata" databases like Gracenote/cddb (used by iTunes) and freedb. Aside from having inconsistent naming of composers, conductors, soloists and vocalists, these databases are inconsistent about basic things such as punctuation and the use of modern or Roman numerals in titling symphonic movements, and are inconsistent in how titles in non-English languages are treated. The whole thing is a hellish mish-mash.
> 
> iTunes is basically a "dumb robot" that just loads in rips from CD's or the equivilent, using Gracenote to fill in the data fields. The reason all these problems arose is that Gracenote started out as one of those low-quality "online group effort" things and then turned into a for-profit company, and was all the more profitable by not hiring editors and metadata specialists to bring all of this disparate information into standardized rules and structures. I can say from the experience of loading all the Mercury Living Presence CD's into an iTunes library that I had to do some sort of tag correction (ie metadata correction) on every single CD to make things like artist names, composer names and the way sections of classical works were titled into a consistent and easily-searchable/easily-sortable mass.
> 
> As to the issue addressed in the WSJ article, the "dumb robot" just breaks classical works into "tracks" from the original CD. So you wouldn't pay $2.50 for a full performance of a symphony, you'd have to find all the movements (hopefully they are named consistently -- but no sure bet -- so they can be found together on a list generated by an iTunes store search) and buy them separately, then put them into a playlist in order to play the symphony front-to-back in order. This whole system is set up for buying single pop tunes. By the way, this system also hurts sales of full pop/rock albums, so the record companies should be fighting this on all fronts.
> 
> When classical CD's first came out, I thought that movements should have been handled as sub-chapters, which the higher-end players could separate if someone really wanted to skip the second movement of a symphony, for example (and of course the record companies should have spent the extra few dollars during the Red Book authoring sessions and put in CD Text based on some agreed-upon naming/spelling/numbering structures -- a Red Book Stylebook -- and then these sloppy auto-fill metadata problems wouldn't exist). Each work should have its own "main cut" or chapter on a disc. So a typical CD might include two Rachmaninov piano concertos and then maybe a few short pieces to fill out the 74-80 minutes (almost all classical CD's did not cheat the buyer as far as fill out the time limits of the new medium, whether one thinks that's good or bad is a matter of opinion, suffice to say the first thing I do in iTunes is make playlsits of the original LP sequence or of individual works that I would want to sit through). The way that typical CD should have been partitioned is that each work was a chapter and the movements would be subchapters. So the first concert would be "track 1" and each movement would be 1.1, 1.2, etc. This is enabled in the Red Book definitions, but seldom used, and thus most players were never capable of skipping to and among the sub-chapters. But I'd bet most users just don't go skipping around with movements within a work. Because the industry unimaginatively divided classical works into "cuts" just like on an LP, they ended up with this handicap of each movement being an individual "track" in iTunes. I would bet, given the minimal sales of most classical recording on iTunes, it would be impossible to go back and make the "dumb robot" smarter at this point.
> 
> -- Tom Fine
> 
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Steve Ramm" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Thursday, January 05, 2012 8:45 PM
> Subject: [ARSCLIST] Interesting Article on iTunes and Classical music in yesterday'zs WSJ
> 
> 
>> _http://tinyurl.com/6udz8kp_ (http://tinyurl.com/6udz8kp)
>> 
>> 
>> Steve Ramm

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