I often find myself collecting various versions of a particular artists songs--one from the early album, a live concert version, a remake, and so on. This was a lot easier in the heyday of Napster, but you can still do it if you try, thanks mainly to iTunes and Google.

What seems to be missing is a web site where you can easily find out how many version of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" exist and which one(s) are generally regarded as superior. Or maybe you're a fan of Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" and didn't know that the versions on "Surfacing" and "Mirrorball" are different. And that there's a live duet version on the 2nd Lilith Fair album. Or the various version's of Peter Gabriel's "Don't Give Up." I have one with Kate Bush, one with Sinead O'Connor (not sure were I found it--I thought it was Us but it's not), and one with Paula Cole.

I could go on. For quite a while, in fact.

What I'm thinking of is something IMDB-like for music. Considering how I occasionally get sidetracked on IMDB for a while, that'd be ideal.

Does such a thing exist?

I admit to not having looked very hard, but I've yet to run across a site that was even close to doing for music what IMDB does for movies and television.

So far the closest I've found is Artist Direct but there's something I don't like about the site and I can't quite put my finger on it..

Posted by jzawodn at August 25, 2003 12:35 AM

Reader Comments
# Pete said:

I have also been looking for such a site, the closest thing I have found is http://www.discogs.com which is for electronic music only. They have done a nice job of listing the releases of the artist, what albums they have appeared on, and singles they have released. It would be nice if they added additional genres though.

on August 25, 2003 01:29 AM
# Wayne said:

The best I've seen is the All Music Guide at http://allmusic.com.

on August 25, 2003 02:14 AM
# Wayne said:

After looking at Artist Direct, it is apparent that they have licensed the database from AMG. So if that data didn't do it for you...

on August 25, 2003 02:17 AM
# Olivier Travers said:

I second the recommendation for Allmusic.com. To research and metatag my 170GB mp3 collection (growing at a healthy 10GB a month) I'm using it daily and it really kicks ass. You can do queries on songs and look at all the different versions and covers. For some songs, you'll get more than 1,000 results so be careful what you ask for, it can be overwhelming!

on August 25, 2003 04:35 AM
# Kevin said:

Yep, AMG is as good as it gets. They have recently started putting in not just album reviews, but some individual song reviews, so who knows, in a few years, they could be headed in the direction you're thinking. I've actually had your same thoughts many a time, as I'm an obsessive collector of rare Radiohead stuff and it pains me to see people downloading the wrong version of, say, "Lift".

on August 25, 2003 06:32 AM
# Charles said:

I poked around the net, and found several databases of music data, like the RILM, IIMP, etc, but these all seem to be licensed and firewalled, mostly available through Universities (and only available to members of that university). I have no idea what these databases contain.
I remember back in the 1970s, when the music catalog wasn't so bloated as it is today, I used to use the Schwann Catalog and I could find everything, it was the "Books in Print" of the music world. Schwann still publishes comprehensive catalogs, but alas, their coverage is only in selected areas, like Classical or Jazz.

on August 25, 2003 10:38 AM
# PJ Doland said:

You're looking for the Covers Project.

on August 25, 2003 10:59 AM
# Arcterex said:

I was thinking that musicbrainz.org could be used to track different songs and artists in an IMDB type fashion.

on August 25, 2003 12:12 PM
# Tim said:

I've often thought it'd be cool to have such a thing. However, I lack the desire to write such a beast.

I think there'd end up being vastly more data than imdb. It's not that uncommon to have guest artists on a particular track playing a song written by a different group than everyone else on a disc, and so on. However, it would be really cool to be able to find different versions of songs, and so on.

I also couldn't sort through how to input the data. I'm not exactly sure how IMDB does it, if it's done manually, or semi manually, or what. Movie titles, however, have the nice distinction of not being re-done too often. Sure, you might have 'The Thin Man', but there's only a few versions of it, and it's basically the same movie. However, Aimee Mann's 'One' and Metallica's 'One' are very different songs, and distingusihing the difference would be a pain. Plus, I wouldn't doubt that Aimee Mann would do a cover of Metallica's 'one'.

But. Anyways.

on August 25, 2003 01:02 PM
# rayg said:

take a look at the september issue of dr dobbs for this cool article.

Music Information Retrieval Systems
Our authors present an iTunes-based music information database system that incorporates musical content as searchable elements—and supports audio-based queries.

on August 25, 2003 08:46 PM
# Kevin Marks said:

How about Musicbrainz?

on August 26, 2003 09:45 AM
# halla said:

have you looked at kazaa? Definitely get the lite version (no spyware) but there's a lot of stuff to download.

on August 27, 2003 07:19 PM
# bMindful said:

Potential power users of AMG/allmusic.com beware.

Just as Amazon, they monitor heavy IP usage and ban those IPs they deem to be accessing the site for non-personal usage.

on September 3, 2003 12:01 PM
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