"Sort by" Headers are Missing in Search

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The site looks beautiful...nicely done and thank your for years of great data! I remember when you were a Gopher site and I had an account with logon creds over 10 years ago to now! Now for the critiques...I feel that your are missing the "sort by" headers like "Years Active" and "Genre" etc...but this next suggestion could be an enhancement topic as well...for example:

Lets say I did a search for the song "Gypsy"...I dont recall the band...but I know the approximate year - it would be more efficient to click a "YEAR" or RELEASE DATE" header to sort all dates by either ascending or descending to find what I'm looking for.

The same goes for having a header for "Artists", "Albums" & "Songs"...it makes it easier to navigate withe headers that give you the option of ascending or descending searches. Unless I'm missing something here...?? I'm always willing to learn...please let me know...and thanks again

Mike Mc
(wizmac)
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Mike McCormack

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Posted 7 years ago

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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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Hi Mike,

Refining search results is a big (exciting/terrifying) project. We're doing some of that around Albums (if you know there is a Jazz album called "Gypsy" we can help you refine that search:
http://beta.allmusic.com/search/album...


Or a Country guy named "Tom" something something:
http://beta.allmusic.com/search/artis...


But when we get into songs...the year is sometimes tough to pin down (were you looking for when Simon and Garfunkel's "The Only Living Boy in New York" came out on 'Bridge Over Troubled Waters' in 1970? Or when it came out on the Garden State soundtrack in 2004...so which date does that get? Also, is it a Pop/Rock song? A Folk song? Or a Soundtrack song?

We're still working on this stuff. Let us know if you have any good ideas around how to solve it.
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rootsmusic

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Zac, Mike asked about sorting but you answered about filtering.
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Tom McEvoy

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Perhaps the year would be easier to pin down if the question were phrased more clearly. What year was it when the artists recorded the song in the studio? In the given example, the performance that appears on Bridge Over Troubled Waters is from 1970 (or maybe 1969), not 2004. The Garden State soundtrack is from 2004.

Maybe there could be a clickable expanding plus sign next to the songs that were subsequently rereleased on compilations or soundtracks, that when clicked reveals the full release history of the recording as sub-results in outline form. Now if the same artist records more than one version of the same song, all versions should appear in the search results as primary results.

In other words: each time a new version of a song is made, it is a primary search result. Each time an existing version is reissued, it is a secondary result, the entire list of which can be expanded or collapsed by clicking a + or -. IMO.
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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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Hmmm...well, the purpose of our Search results here is more to navigate the user to the location with the information (as opposed to using search results as a way to display/investigate more data).

In our ideal scenario, uses would spend almost zero time on these search results pages: They would do a search, find the result (hopefully in the first page, if not the second) and then get to the page with more info.

The info you're looking for "revealing the full release history of the recording as sub-results in outline form" is (at least in some part) available on the Song page: http://dev.allmusic.com/song/the-only...

The name of the song, a sound sample, and a sortable list of all of the albums that song appears on (including the year). It shows the 1970 first appearance and then the 2004 soundtrack appearance further down the list.

[This gets technical for anybody still with me]: Regarding sorting (especially for songs) the simple truth is that the data that we receive around songs in our song search results does not contain year information.

We do not have the ability to sort by artist name since the song request we make is for 20 results at a time based on Relevance and Popularity. If we needed to sort the song "Love" alphabetically, we would need to make a request for the 597,756 songs (which is only delivered in popularity order), put them into an array, order them alphabetically and then present them to the user. This would take longer than anybody would ever wait for.

As an example, take a look at Nat King Cole's "All Songs" list.
http://beta.allmusic.com/artist/nat-k...
We take the list, alphabetize it and present it to the user. This is only ~4,000 songs and it still takes longer than we'd like.

I think that some of the research/investigation/"How many albums does this song appear on" may be better served by another tool we can build. For Search Results, we're really just trying to get the user to the destination.

(Man I love talking about this stuff. Keep it coming!)
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Tom McEvoy

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Thanks for the detailed response, Zac. A few thoughts:

It feels like a moving target, as first the problem was "the year of a song is hard to pin down", but now it's "we don't actually have the year associated with individual songs in our database". Without knowing how your database works or how the site is coded, my insights will probably be limited. But I'll give it a shot.

Problem: the database is too big.

Solution 1: Make the database less redundant (song titles).

I went to the Nat King Cole's all songs list, which contains supposedly over 4000 songs. Maybe part of the reason is that permutations and manglings of a song title are counted as discrete entries. Therefore 'Deed I Do and 'Deed I do (capitalization of "do") are two different songs. Check out the madness for this song:

(Get You Kicks On) Route 66
(Get Your Kicks On) Road 66
(Get Your Kicks On) Route
(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66
(Get Your Kicks) Rte 66
(Get Your Kicks) on Route 66
(Gets Your Kicks On) Route 66

That should be one entry and it's seven. A quick scan of the page shows this happens on at least every third song. Literally. Though most are just doubled or tripled, not multiplied by seven. (Septled?)

Solution 2: Make the database less redundant (reissues).

This is essentially the idea i pitched in the last post. Each recording of each song should only get one entry in the main searchable database. By "each recording", I mean each different interpretation by an artist. To my knowledge Nat did four different interpretations of that song between 1946 and 1961. Of those seven entries for Route 66 above, incredibly, none of them redirect to a bona fide original release by Nat Cole. They all go to compilations, the earliest of which is dated 1990. I have to assume that an entry without the parentheses (of which I can only imagine there are dozens) links to an original recording. But the point is, all of these entries could be omitted from search results and "all songs" lists, and reserved for song pages for the user who wants to find their preferred method of acquiring certain material. In my mind the material organizes best thusly:

First level: one result, Route 66. Search results and "all song" lists.
Second level: four results. 1946 take 1, 1946 take 2, 1956, 1961. Song page.
Third level: the scores or hundreds of reissues. Reissue page.

Solution 3: Tiered functionality based on how many items are returned by searching.

"Love" gets half a million hits, even with a non-redundant database? Great, return them the easiest way possible. My search for "route 66" got 1481 hits, and "nat king cole route 66" returns 75 items. Perhaps a search with 1500ish hits could have limited sorting, and a list of 75 should be sortable in every way imaginable. But then again if ideas #1 and #2 were implemented, i think the list would be much shorter than 75.

Problem: Individual songs do not have dates associated with them.

Solution: They do have albums associated, which have dates, right? Just return the date associated with the album. The original album, not the reissue.

I probably will have more ideas but I'm fried for the moment. Thinking about this stuff is a brain drain to be sure!
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Tom McEvoy

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Just for fun I scanned the rest of Nat's "all songs" page for Route 66:

Get Your Kick on Route
Get Your Kicks
Get Your Kicks (On Route 66)
Get Your Kicks On
Get Your Kicks on Route 66
Get Your Kicks on Route 66!
Route
Route 66
Route 66 (Get Your Kicks)
Route 66 (Nat King Cole Version)
Route 66 (Troup)
Route 66 Kicks
Route 66, (Get Your Kicks On)
Route 66, (Gets Your Kicks On)

Fourteen, plus the seven from above = 21 entries total for one song. That is madness. The more I look at this, the more I think would be solved by correcting and streamlining the database.
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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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Tom,
You seem to enjoy digging in the data as much as we do. A man after my own heart!

A lot of this boils down to time, effort, and resources. In the past we've done multi-month projects where each of our editors will be given a portion of the database to cover and have them merge duplicate songs/albums/artists and split songs/albums/artists that are really the same person or work but got munged together. These processes are rewarding for us and our users (as is any task that helps us clean up the database) but ultimately the dupes creep in again occasionally, or a budget label release will misspell/mis-identify a track and we'll have another outlier in the database.

The original album date for each song may be an easier one for us to tackle since it could be done programmatically as you pointed out. I know we (heck, even I personally) have done some initial testing in this area in the past but have gotten mixed results...

A Charley Patton blues demo surfaces on a 1998 boxed set and all of the sudden we've got all of his songs in the '20s and '30s with one in the '90s.

"Pink Moon" charts in 2006 since it is in a VW commercial and all of the sudden Nick Drake has song credits from the 2000s.

In our initial testing it works most of the time but the outliers make us skeptical to publish all of those dates for the whole catalog of 32 Million tracks in the database.

I think a solution is in there someplace and I think we can get there...we just haven't gotten there yet.
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michael.leeman

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Obviously, this (sorting, in general) is a major source of AMG's value and has to be at the top of the "keep working on this" list.
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m 00

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Absolutely agree that sorting is an essential feature.

I often resort to AMG when trying to find a song or artist with only partial information (e.g. chorus of the song, trying to deduct the title). It's much more difficult now.

For example, I just tried to search a band called "End.", which resulted in 58000 hits. Out of which 530 artists, with End somewhere in the title. ("End" without the period resulted in 350 hits). Genre classification can be hazy or subjective, so trying to narrow with them is cumbersome (especially since can't "check out" some genres that definitely don't apply, and can't checkbox several at a time).

Suggestions for what I'd love to see:
-Ability to sort results alphabetically by title or artist
-Ability to arrange by chronology (the release date of the album that the song version is found on)
-Ability to use quotes (and other boolean parameters) to narrow search (this would be hugely beneficial!)
-And more advanced functions would be very helpful in finding missing songs: ability to narrow search by including or excluding one or more factors at one time, if they are known (e.g. solo artist or band? Male or female vocalist? Decades active? Song language? Country of origin?)

Hope you'll have the time to hone in on this, would be greatly appreciated!
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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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We've been actively working on our search function and End. is much more searchable now. http://www.allmusic.com/searchtest/artists/End
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Jan Kooy

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I would really love to get the sorting by date functionality back on song search results.

It used to be a great way for me to do my research for original songs.

Which would most of the time be the first one released.
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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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Thanks Jan.
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Lisa

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There was a feature I thought was great that you no longer boast. I liked that I could look up a song and see in chronological order the artists that had covered it. This allowed me to easily determine the originator of a piece. Why couldn't you have left it there? I can go elsewhere if I just want a simple list, which is all that appears now after a song search.

This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
Sort by date.
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Lila Desatoff

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Without a sorting feature, your site becomes very cumbersome. Whether it be by date, artist, title, label, year or whatever ... it needs to be available. It used to be there. Why is it gone now, just to make a "pretty" page?
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Chrysta Cherrie

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Hi Lila,
Can you provide an example of not being able to filter search results? Our current search allows you to filter by album, artist, song and composition (see http://www.allmusic.com/search/all/ve...).

Thanks!
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Lisa

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It would be nice to be able to see the chronology of a song. It is no longer possible to sort a given song by date, which was nice. I liked seeing who all had covered a particular song, and who originated it.
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Jan Kooy

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Chrysta, one example you're lookin' for is this:

http://www.allmusic.com/search/songs/...

It clearly shows that you cannot sort the list (or even see the actual date the tracks were released).

As Lisa, I was using allmusic extensively for the same functionality.
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Lila Desatoff

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Christa,

You appear to not understand the difference between "sort" and "filter". They are two completely different functions.

Since this is the winter season for me right now, I'll use this example: baby+its+cold+outside (eliminating punctuation marks to get the most results)

The "filter" results were:
total: 1,031
artists: 0
albums: 38
songs: 992
compositions: 1

First, I find it funny that 992 songs fit on 38 albums and nobody performed them, but that's not the issue I am bringing up.

Without having a "sort" function, it will be so very cumbersome to look through the 992 songs, which are in random order, to find the one you are looking for.
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Jan Kooy

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Lila,

It is 0 artists with the name baby its cold outside
38 albums with the title baby its cold outside
and
992 songs titled baby its cold outside

and it is.

And I'm still crying over the lost functionality you describe.
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Lila Desatoff

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In my very large library, I have many cds that I ripped when I was vacationing at the beach at a location that did not have internet access (I didn't know this ahead of time), therefore iTunes could not access the database to populate the fields. Since I had planned to use that vacation time strictly to work on my library, I ripped my cds anyway, thinking (erroneously) that iTunes could fill them in later when I was back home and connected. This has given me many (over 200) cds that say "track 1", "track 2", etc. Unfortunately, iTunes can't do that unless it has an album name and artist to work with. I would have to erase and re-rip from my cds. Fortunately, iTunes did include in the album title, the date and time of the ripping, so I can keep the cd's tracks together.

I have to find a source where I can find a song, identify the artist and match the track number to be able to name the album.

I used to be able to do this with AMG, but as you can see, without being able to sort, this is no longer feasible.

There are programs that are supposed to do this, and I purchased one two weeks ago (I wish they would have had a free trial period). On one cd, a various artist compilation, it identified the song title as Bugle Call Rag, but could not identify the artist. When I listened to the song, it was actually Harlem Nocturne. For kicks, listen to the two songs and see if they sound anything alike.

Sorry, for going off topic, but I think it better explains my feeling of frustration. Please bring back the sorting capability!
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Лена Григорьева

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Hello!  Your site is great! Unbelieveble! Can you help me with one song, what I can`t find
at all. I have only a bit of this mp3. Can you?
 It is from 1:18 to 1:26.
(Edited)