Advanced Album Search Prototype

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  • Updated 6 years ago
In an effort to make this Friday the 13th less scary I wanted to let you in on a preview of our advanced album search:

It is not linked on the site yet, but you can get there here: www.allmusic.com/advanced-search

This Advanced Album Search tool is a work in progress. We plan to expand it and follow it with more enhancements based on your feedback.



Using the filters on the left, select from the following characteristics:


  • Genres - The broad overall classification of the music on the album.
  • Styles - The more specific type of music on the album.
  • Moods - Adjectives that describe the sound and feel of a song, album, or overall body of work.
  • Themes - Activities or events particularly suited for a song, album or overall body of work.
  • Editorial Star Rating - 5 stars is great, 1 star...not so much. More info here
  • Release Date (or re-issue date) - When the album came out (or when it was re-issued on CD)
  • The Album’s Main Performer - The primary artist (or artists) associated with the album.


and begin to dig through the albums that represent those characteristics.

By typing in the text box within the filters, you can quickly narrow down to the type of characteristic you’re looking for (for example, type “punk” into the genres & styles filter to see Hardcore Punk, Garage Punk, New York Punk, and many more).



Your active filters will appear at the top of the page. You can adjust your filters by clicking to remove them from the “Active Filters” list, by clicking “clear” in any of the individual modules on the left, or start over by clicking “Clear All” in the upper right.



Your results can also be sorted by using the “sort by” dropdown in the upper right.



A few things to mention:

Release Dates are a bit off:
The way our search function is accessing the release date is not currently looking at the original release date of an album, but rather is taking into account any date that the album was released (including reissues) so if you focus in on 1990 for example, you'll see albums that originally came out earlier, but were re-released on CD in 1990. We're working on that.

Things that aren't there (yet) for albums:
We hope to enable more functions like filtering on label, filtering on individual credits on the album level, filtering out compilations and re-issues. This takes a bit of work from our back end teams and that needs to get prioritized appropriately.

Things that aren't there (yet) for other content types:
Advanced Artist Search, Advanced Song Search, Advanced Classical Composition Search. We've got plans for all of these, depending on the feedback we get on Albums.

Please use this forum to let us know what you think, if you find bugs or if there are things that you'd really like to see us work on next.
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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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Posted 7 years ago

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Nathan Smart

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Looks great! I'm more interested in the artist search but it seems to work pretty well for albums. I think what is most important is the fact that you can select more than one option to keep filtering down your results. That's a great way to get this working and I can't think of anywhere else on the net where it's done as well as this (for our purposes).

I only noticed one problem. I did a search for Teen Pop from 1980-1990 and didn't see Tiffany listed anywhere. So, I went to her page and Teen Pop is not listed as one of her styles. Now, THAT'S a problem! :)
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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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Hey Nathan,
Since I've got you here, what are you looking for in an Artist Search? Can you give examples that we can start building on?
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Nathan Smart

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I think what you have for the Album Search is what you should have for all of them, honestly. It's pretty much exactly what I wanted. I didn't even think of having a separate advanced search for Album, Artist, Song, etc. I was just looking for a way to pick a Style and find an organized list of artists. My first request was for a way to see ALL artists for any given genre or style which was impossible until now. After that, being able to add a date parameter basically takes care of that for me.

I will say that I don't think you need to have separate searches for all of those things (Artists, Albums, Songs, etc.). You could just have one page for all the searches and let people choose how they want it organized. I have no use for an Album list with random artists (although your search gave me some ideas for what I COULD use it for) but you could put a section that says, "How do you want it organized?" and then you just click "By Artist, By Album, By Song" etc...

But, like I said, you guys knocked it out of the park. I really didn't know how you would address it but it's pretty fantastic. I'm sure there will be bigger nerds than I that could figure out some more tweaks and they can speak up where I haven't.

One last thing: Whenever I think about the best way to have advanced searches or filters for big long lists I always think of how the Smart Playlists work on iTunes. In my opinion, it's the absolute best filtering system that has ever been created. Now, does it work perfectly? Maybe not, but then again, maybe I'm doing it wrong. But, I would take a look at Smart Playlists on iTunes and see how they let you choose your parameters to get an idea of a great system.
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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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Thanks so much.

The tricky thing about one single page is that the controls and filters would be different. For example, we don't have the concept of "Star Ratings" for artists (there are no 5 star artists). Same thing for "Release Date"...we would need to change that to "Years Active" or "Decades Active" to filter artists.

I think we can streamline the process by asking first "What are you looking for? Artists? Albums? Songs? Compositions?" and then offering the relevant controls and filters at that point.

We'll keep gathering feedback and hopefully we can get an Advanced Artist Search together soon.

Here's hoping the bigger nerds chime in too!
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Nathan Smart

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Is there a way to grey out the options that don't apply? Like the star ratings for Artists?
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tom moore

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Do not see it above, can you search for Track Pick and Album Picks?
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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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Not yet, but you can search for highly rated albums which can get you albums that AllMusic thinks are the cream of the crop.

As noted in our FAQ, Album Picks are the best representation within an artist's catalog (not always the greatest albums of all time). Same thing for Track Picks: They represent the best songs on the individual album, but not necessarily the greatest songs by that artist.

That said, I know we have multiple album picks for Miles Davis, it would be cool to filter for them all in one interface.
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rpfolse

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i second this
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rpfolse

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looks pretty good, very snappy! one suggestion (so far): it's kind of confusing the way you have it set up to clear filters right now...perhaps if you check a couple things in one filter type (5 and 4-4 1/2 stars, for instance), then click over to another filter type (genre, say), maybe you should leave the check boxes for 5 and 4-4 1/2 stars visible, even though the rest of the filters in that category are hidden?
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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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Thanks for sticking around, rpfolse.
We're still toying with the layout of the filter controls to make it easier to see what you've selected. We've got a TON of options that users can choose from here and we're trying to balance showing the data without overwhelming the page.

Did you notice that at the top we display "Active Filters" and bu hovering over each of them you can delete them individually.

Does that get the job done? Or would you rather see the active checkboxes in the filter controls on the side as well?
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rpfolse

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Yeah, I noticed that, but it wasn't immediately obvious. I think having the checkboxes remain would probably be easier to recognize at first blush, and I doubt that you'd end up with so many checkboxes that it got hard to see everything (since most searches with a ton of filters will turn up no results, I'd imagine). It'd be trickier to do the date filters this way, but everything else should be better (you could easily do both, as well).

On the subject of date filters, I also think you should allow the date to be open at either end (i.e. have either endpoint be blank, such as everything before 1970). Granted this same thing could be accomplished by picking the last available date at a given end, but leaving it blank should accomplish the same thing. (Actually, just going back and playing with it, your interface is a bit wonky for this, though it looks like you have the functionality I was suggesting. But just by picking and unpicking (via the dropdowns) years a few times, I was able to break the interface--years were being omitted that shouldn't be, I was able to get ( - 1970) to show up and be empty, etc.)

For genre/subgenre, you should probably have two views (and radio buttons or something to switch between them), one alphabetic and the other more of a tree view. You wouldn't necessarily want a collapsable tree (though that would be ideal), but you could have it sorted by main genres in alphabetic order, and then following each genre are all the associated subgenres, indented a bit and in alphabetic order. You may even consider, in this tree view, having a select all subgenres control (though how you would fit it in, I'm not sure, especially if there's a collapse control).

For moods and themes, it's really hard to pick anything right now, especially if you just want to see what all's available...soooo much scrolling. You may want a link in that list somewhere that pops a modal window up with all of the options visible at once, or at least with very minimal scrolling. Another thing you could do (which would be pretty intense, but also very helpful) would be to find common groups, go over all your albums and see which phrases come up most often together. Then when selecting a filter, you could suggest similar themes or moods.

Also, is there no standard "Various Artists" that I can filter by?

Regarding the pagination controls: the current page is not discernible without mousing over each page number, and you should have controls at the top as well. You may also want to include some information like "Showing X results out of Y" and have some indication of the total number of page and a control for changing the results per page.

You should be able to sort on artist name, not just artist popularity.

Besides filtering compilations and re-releases, you should be able to filter live albums as well (if possible, though the line between live, live in the studio, and whatever other iterations people come up with may be a bit tricky to walk--I'm pretty sure I have seen some albums marked as Live, though I can't seem to find what I'm pretty sure used to be called album type or something anymore).
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Colas Generau

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It's a great first shot for the albums search, it load really fast for such a search tool, thanks a lot.
Some thoughts (and sorry for my poor english):

- Why not a sort by rating ? We can do without as we can filter by 5 stars only, or 4 stars etc ... but it would be more intuitive with a "sort by" (and everywhere on the website, we can sort by rating so i was expecting the same possibility here)

- For the "genres & styles" filter, wouldn't be clearer by showing styles as sub-categories from the genres ? Here if i want a quick overview of all the blues styles for example, i have to already know their names (and there is so many blues styles...). I can also type blues in the "type to filter genres by name", but a tree (or two different filters for styles and genre) would be easier to use. But the searchbox is still a good idea.

- The problem is bigger with moods and themes, really big big lists so it's hard to know which mood or theme you want to see, but i understand that it's a little bit touchy here to find top-categories that make sense.

Finally, for the release date, maybe it would be interesting to filter by months for the last years (2011-2012), so we can easily browse new releases ? I've see the dedicated new release sections, which is useful, but as i miss powerful filters like these ones and flexibility on the date range on the new release section, i think that it would be interesting to try to use advanced search instead.
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Hi Colas!

- Sort by rating is something we hope to enable at some point soon.

- Yeah, I'm not 100% satisfied with just a straight alphabetical list of the hundreds and hundreds of Genres and Styles. The hard part about the tree is that we would need to have some way of "Opening/expanding" the Genre tree and then closing it (as well as having the checkboxes for selection). Not impossible, we just haven't come up with a great way to do it yet.

- Yep. We don't really have a concept of "Mood Categories" or "Theme Groupings" in the data. I agree though, having "Aggressive" right next to "Agreeable" is not really helpful in a navigational sense.

- Filter by month may be tricky (from both a data filtering sense and a navigation/controls sense) but we can think on it.

Thanks!
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Colas Generau

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Hi, for the genre and styles, my way would be to put only genres in the first level list, and put the styles in dropdown menus which open on mouse hover on the right. So if you click on the checkbox attached to a genre, it will select all the related styles, but if you click on the checkboxes inside the submenus, it will only select the associated style.

The "a little bit more" tricky part is maybe to find a good way to "show" to the user if a genre is fully selected or if only few related styles are selected. Windows UI offer a possibility i think for that, there is a checkbox icon state which means something like "half selected", but i don't think that all the average users understand this state
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jake91393

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Can you please add the ability to filter albums that only include all the moods you select. Because when you search for multiple moods the search bar says for example Mysterious OR Nocturnal OR Gloomy, but it would be really helpful if you could search for only albums that list Mysterious AND Nocturnal AND Gloomy. That would narrow it down to albums that you're really really looking for. Thanks :)
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Adam Wacholder

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We need the same for the genre-search. I'm not interesting in OR. We need the AND. Japanese Rock + Experimental Rock should lead to OOIOO and similar bands....not David Bowie!
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Bruno RENARD

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A nice feature would be to find all the compilations of a genre, and can be sorted according to their score, no?
this would find the same information as the old top albums lists...
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Captain_Steve

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..... why no ability to search on starred ratings? This feature has introduced me to so many good artists I've never heard of - bring it back, please!!

This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
Search is good but........
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tim

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Although I'm really happy with the function to filter for specific ratings, since the redesign was launched the advanced search doesn't seem to work (yet).
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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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Correct Tim,
We wanted to get this one completely finished before launch, but it didn't make it. Should be complete by the end of the week. Thanks for your patience.
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tim

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Not working yet, is it? Looks better and better though!
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Andy DeNardi

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Are we allowed to comment on what parts are not working for us or are so many things in progress that it would be pointless? For example, it's finding a lot less 5 star albums than I would expect for a given year and they don't include many genres.

In general, I like it a lot. For whatever reason, I've never used it before. I guess I was expecting it to be the same as the one a couple of years ago and that wasn't useful to me.
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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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We're still working through it Andy. Glad to hear it is useful to you. Once it is fully up and running we'll shout it from the rooftops.

We reserve the right to repeatedly break it in new and unexpected ways until we get it ready for prime time.

This! http://www.textfiles.com/underconstru...