Search Song Title AND Artist?

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I’m really confused by the AllMusic search interface.

In the main search bar, I typed in “Yesterday the Beatles.”

The song is definitely there. But it’s the 16th result.

http://www.allmusic.com/search/all/yesterday%20beatles

Okay. I’ll used Advanced Search then.

I can filter by artist. But there’s no way to search for individual songs. 

So how does one do a simple search of “Song Title” by Artist Name? 

Any help?

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George

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  • confused....

Posted 2 years ago

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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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Hi George,
The search function tries to find matches within the title before secondarily looking for matches in title + artist.

If you enter Yesterday The Beatles it mostly finds items that have Yesterday and The and Beatles in the title, before songs called Yesterday performed by the Beatles.

Better yet, if you put the two words in quotes like "Yesterday"+"Beatles" 
http://www.allmusic.com/search/all/%22yesterday%22%2B%22beatles%22

It'll find things that match those terms exactly.
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George

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Hi Zac,

Thanks for the response.

Using quotes is great for Yesterday and the Beatles.

http://www.allmusic.com/search/songs/%22yesterday%22+%22beatles%22

 

It also works for Hard Day’s Night + Beatles.

http://www.allmusic.com/search/songs/%22hard+day%27s+night%22+%22beatles%22

But this approach starts to break down once you search for less popular songs (which is almost every song given the popularity of the Beatles’ Yesterday).

Here’s a search of Back Seat Confidential by AC/DC......
http://www.allmusic.com/search/all/%22back%20seat%20confidential%22%20%22ac__dc%22


And when encoding for the / in AC/DC

http://www.allmusic.com/search/songs/%22Back%20Seat%20Confidential%22+%22AC%2FDC%22

 

What’s really strange is that:

Back Seat Confidential (on its own) is 100% findable
http://www.allmusic.com/search/all/%22back%20seat%20confidential%22

 

AC/DC (on its own) is 100% findable.

http://www.allmusic.com/search/all/%22AC__DC%22

Searching them together, however, yields zero results.

Here’s I’m a Believer by the Monkees (the song is there....but it’s much lower on the list).

http://www.allmusic.com/song/im-a-believer-mt0006398866

“New York” (as a partial title) coupled with “Frank Sinatra” = 2 hits from 2009.

 ------------- 

I’ve tried 10+ searches so far with quotes around the title and artist. And about 50% of the time, the results are non-existent or quite far down in the list.

Is there a way to more accurately pinpoint the tunes I’m looking for?

What would be awesome is a field (or search string) where I can input the artist (and only the artist) in quotes...and the title (and only the title) in quotes.....and have it return the best match every time.

If the database has any record where the artist is AC/DC...and w/i that set... any title that also has “Back Seat Confidential”....then I’ll get a positive hit.

Any suggestions?

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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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Awesome. Glad this has been partially helpful.

I'll try to explain what I'm seeing in the examples you provide (thanks for those).
The explanation may not directly solve what you're looking for but I can at least describe what is happening. From there we can try to continue to make improvements on our end.


1. The AC/DC query is being thrown off by the slash in the name of the band.

If you remove the "/" and search for "back seat confidential" "ac dc" it finds the results.
http://www.allmusic.com/search/all/%22back%20seat%20confidential%22%20%22ac%20dc%22


To get into the weeds a bit, we have a search field called "Merged" where we pull together the band name and the song title. In this case the merged field contains back seat confidential ac dc 

When we pass in "back seat confidential" "ac/dc" it translates it to search for WHERE match('@merged "back seat confidential ac\\/dc"/4')

(the "4" at the end means that it reads this string as having 4 words in it.)

Since the string it is looking to match exactly has what we consider to be 5 words, the search comes back with nothing.

When we pass in "back seat confidential" "ac dc" it translates it to search for WHERE match('@merged "back seat confidential ac dc"/5') 

(the "5" at the end means that it reads this string as having 5 words in it.)

Since the string it is looking to match exactly has 5 words, the search comes back with results.

I'm investigating the other two examples now.
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George

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Hi Zac,

Thanks again for the speedy response. And my apologies for taking so long to get back to you. I was hosting out-of-towners.

Anyway – the “merged” issue makes sense. Thanks for giving me a peek behind the curtains.

Any luck with the other issues? I know nothing about coding or databases. But it seems like fixing this “should” be pretty straightforward. If someone searches “artist” and “title” – you’d think there would always be a high-ranking hit if that song exists in the backend.

I appreciate your help with all this. It’s a great platform.

Cheers Zac.

-G
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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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We're making some strides with the examples you pointed out.

2. "I'm a Believer" by the Monkees is being investigated.

We have thousands of individual tracks in the database for that song by that band. When we present the search results back we try our best to whittle it down to just one instance. In this case our system selected a version that is incorrectly titled "Im a Believer" (without the apostrophe) and that is throwing off the results.

This needs to be corrected on our end.


3. The Frank Sinatra song about New York.

The results that come back first when you search for New York Frank Sinatra are songs that have the terms Frank Sinatra and New York in the title, and then popular songs and albums with titles that have the term New York in them.

Things also get a bit weird when words are duplicated in the thing you're searching for (like a song with "New York, New York" in the title, or Bob Dylan's album "Bob Dylan").


The song you were most likely looking for is actually titled "Theme from New York, New York" and if you search for Theme From New York, New York Frank Sinatra You get the proper song first.
http://www.allmusic.com/search/all/Theme%20From%20New%20York%2C%20New%20York%20Frank%20Sinatra

If you use our exact search and look for "Theme From New York, New York"+"Frank Sinatra" you get exactly what you're looking for.

http://www.allmusic.com/search/all/%22Theme%20From%20New%20York%2C%20New%20York%22%2B%22Frank%20Sina...


For a long time, the AllMusic search was seen as being too loose, trying to guess and interpret what the user was looking for, and very often it was too wild. If you were looking for the band "Love" you had to wade through dozens (hundreds?) of other items that peripherally had that term associated with it.   

While we've been building and refining our search we've been focusing more on returning more exactly what the user typed in (and focusing less on taking the leaps that may or may not be helpful). More detail here

That being said, our system should do a better job of trying to interpret what you're looking for when it is something like this Sinatra song.  


If someone searches “artist” and “title” – you’d think there would always be a high-ranking hit if that song exists in the backend.

We do boost it with a lot of bonus points based on the number of occurrences and the metadata we have associated with the song, but the initial "match" score that is generated by our search technology for the other results still bubble above "Theme from New York, New York."




We are renewing focus on search right now, so if you see any other examples please send them our way.
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George

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very helpful once again zac. sounds like a lot of progress is ongoing. i'll check in from time to time.

cheers buddy. 
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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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Again, if you encounter other wonky stuff, feel free to let us know.

We have a ton of use cases and regression tests that we perform but users are the ones who really find the needles in the haystacks for us.
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George

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hey zac - i actually found one small thing. it's only tangentially related to exact match searches.

"dancing machine" by "jackson 5" returns hits. 
http://www.allmusic.com/search/all/%22dancing%20machine%22%20%22jackson%205%22

If i click on "songs"
http://www.allmusic.com/search/songs/%22dancing+machine%22+%22jackson+5%22

and then the first result
http://www.allmusic.com/song/dancing-machine-mt0005559199

and then the first "appears on" album in the list (1971 - Greatest Hits)
http://www.allmusic.com/album/the-greatest-hits-mw0000650295

the tune doesn't appear on this album (because the song wasn't recorded yet).

i imagine in a DB this size, this is inevitable. i'll keep digging around for bigger bugs and let u know what i find.
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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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This is another element of the way our database is set up that is challenging and we haven't seemed to be able to find a good work-around.

Since our "song" database is actually a listing of every instance of every track on every release we have in the system. So "Dancing Machine" appears on what looks to be a Bonus Track edition release of that album.

If you look through the releases:
http://www.allmusic.com/album/the-greatest-hits-mw0000650295/releases

you'll find these versions from 1998 that contain the song in question:
http://www.allmusic.com/album/release/the-greatest-hits-mr0000262686
http://www.allmusic.com/album/release/the-greatest-hits-mr0000281392


So we're kinda stuck because the most complete way to do this would be to list all of the individual releases where the song appears. Unfortunately for something like "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson which has not only appeared on a ton of albums, but each album has had a ton of individual releases, so the Songs page would become a list of hundreds (or thousands?) of individual releases of his albums and compilations/soundtracks where the song appears.

In this case there are 42 releases of Thriller that all contain the song, then you'd get into the multiple releases of Motown 25 and The Essential Michael Jackson, etc.

A mocked-up example:



There would be so much repetition on the page that we've always thought that keeping a smaller, cleaner (but potentially confusing in a few instances) list of Albums was better than a more accurately complete but overwhelming list of duplicated Releases.
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George

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yeah - i see what u mean. handling big data is tough.

if i spot anything else, i'll let u guys know.

thanks again zac.

-g
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Update:
"I'm a Believer" now brings back sensible results:
http://www.allmusic.com/search/all/i%27m%20a%20believer

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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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And now we've got "Theme From New York, New York" presenting higher when you search for New York Frank Sinatra:
http://www.allmusic.com/search/all/new+york+frank+sinatra

It is now the first result displaying after the items with the words "New York" and "Frank Sinatra" as part of the actual title.
(Edited)
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George

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hey zac - i never officially thanked you for your final response.

thanks buddy.
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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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You got it.
We've really worked hard over the past year to improve search, and it is a wild beast to try to tame.

Multiple instances of the same song, songs, albums and artists with the same name, bands like The The and !!! and albums like ( ) or The Beatles/"The White Album" or just ÷ all cause trauma.

Oddball artists like Kesha/Ke$ha or Puff Daddy/P. Diddy/Diddy/Puffy/Sean Combs/Diddy Dirty Money and who could forget Ol' Dirty Bastard/O.D.B./Dirt McGirt/Big Baby Jesus all need aliases with different weights.

Search terms like Ænima and Björk and Guns N' Roses/Guns and Roses/Guns & Roses all need special attention.

And on top of that, ranking items in each of the different media types (artists, albums, songs, classical compositions, labels, articles) individually (Like there are over 300 albums with the word 1984 in the title...which one gets returned first? How do you mathematically determine popularity and balance that out with exact string match vs trying to guess if the user misspelled/mistyped what they were looking for) and then figuring out how to balance all of those in the "All" search results (are albums more popular than artists? Should a popular song with a partial match beat out a record label name with that exact match?).

The whole thing is a fun, frustrating and complicated monster to wrangle. We have dozens of home-built levers to pull and push, and each one gives different results. When we nudge in one direction, it cascades in ways we can't imagine, but that detective work is also a fun challenge.

Thanks for your in-depth comments, it helps make our service better for everybody.