Is classical music asking the right questions?
What will have more impact on the future of classical music? Roberto Alagna’s latest “squeeze”, or our ability to organise, search and access digital music files? My view tends to the latter, which is why in a comment on a recent post I said “It has long puzzled me as to why the subject of metadata about music recordings is so neglected”. Now reader Mike has responded with the following comment which justifies a post of its own:
Music metadata has been a small bugbear of mine ever since I started digitising music in the 90s. In particular the metadata databases used by Apple's iTunes and Microsoft's Media Players are quite awful when you move out of pop/rock music to classical/jazz/world. I don't let either bit of software touch my collection, especially as you can't trust either to honour their metadata settings, and the penalty for them breaching the trust is the loss of hundreds of manhours of labelling.How can classical music bet the farm on a digital future when the basic data needed to organise, search and access digital music files is not available?
It's also sad that a great many digital downloads have poor to no composer metadata. Even when browsing iTunes, Spotify etc this information is nowhere to be seen. So many times I've seen a recital disc full of etudes, nocturnes and other no clue as to the composer. The rear disc information is rarely available to browse (although so many releases of more contemporary classical music eschew any clue as to the contents - is it vocal?, chamber?, musique concrète? - the label has decided to make it a secret). One of the online music stores I buy from said that because iTunes doesn't display composers, the publishers simply don't provide that information any more to *any* online stores.
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