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[All Platforms][Your Library] Crowdsource the duplicate albums and songs problem

A serious Spotify problem, shared with other services, is how poorly duplicate versions of songs and albums are managed. There are many different (re)releases of what is apparently the same album. Also, the same song can appear in many different albums/compilations. Spotify largely fails to understand all these different versions of albums and songs as being duplicates. Meaning that:

 

  • Existing features do not work reliably
    • Liking songs
    • Disliking / Blocking songs
    • Liking albums
    • Exploring the music catalog
    • Song popularity indicators
    • Skipping duplicates when adding songs to playlists
  • Proposed features will not work reliably
    • Tagging songs and creating dynamic playlists
    • Song play counts
    • Alternate modes for Discover Weekly, Radios and other discovery features
      • Show and play only not-played songs
      • Show and play only not-liked songs
    • Comparing libraries between friends

More detailed problem descriptions:

  • Songs I have liked are often not liked within any album with the same name on the artist page, nor within the list of top songs on the artist, nor radios I play, nor my own playlists. Making me add it again and again ending up with tons of duplicate liked songs.
  • Albums I have liked are often not liked on the artist page (Same exact album name)
  • Albums and Album-Songs that I liked on the Artist page are no longer liked when I look at the Artist page a(day, week, month, year) later because the album displayed on the Artist page has been replaced by a new version.  
  • The same song turns up again and again in top songs for an artist
  • Duplicates of disliked/blocked songs keep playing, turning disliking/blocking songs into a game of whack-a-mole.
  • Often the songs in top songs, or radios/playlists, for an artist are not from any of the album versions visible on the artist, but rather links to some some sort of zombie album release not accessible in any way except through the link from the song. So I like a number of top songs or radio songs for an artist and minutes later view the same songs in an album with the same name as the song I liked but this one is not liked.
  • Avoiding duplicates in playlists does not work reliably. So I have playlists full of duplicates.
  • The above problems mean I end up with a ton of duplicates in my liked songs. And thus, when I add songs to playlists by selecting all liked songs from an album/artist or similar the playlist ends up with duplicate songs

Spotify badly needs to implement a strategy for handling this, such as making one version per album and song preferred and making sure that their interface consistently use these preferred versions everywhere by default, automatically migrating all a users Liked songs and playlist songs to this version whenever it changes. The user should only need to see this horrible mess if they want some very specific version of an album/song. Then some way of opening the doors to this pandora's box can be provided. Like a "See all releases" link when you open the preferred version of an album or song. Combined, perhaps, with the option to lock liked songs and playlist songs to this specific version.

 

However, it is a huge burden for a company to manage this data and the choices made may be controversial. This is likely to be why it is still not fixed even though doubtlessly Spotify is well aware of just how big a problem this is.

 

For a single company managing this data is prohibitively expensive, for the community of tens of millions of users doing so is a trivially small amount of effort. So here's my suggested solution to all these problems: Crowdsource it. Let the users mark different versions of albums and songs as duplicates of each other and possibly vote for which one should be the preferred version. The user would simply paste in the links to other songs or albums into a "Report duplicate" function on a song or album. This would remove the immense burden of managing this data from Spotify employees and, if voting is implemented, makes it very hard for users to complain about which version is preferred. It would be a democratic process among all the users.

 

I think that solving this problem first could be a huge competitive advantage. I have already posted this as a suggestion to Tidal as well. Please get moving on this Spotify if you think it a good idea, or you might miss the boat.

Updated on 2020-12-31

Hello and thanks for bringing your feedback to the Idea Exchange. We've marked this as a new idea.
Spotify Staff will look into this idea once it reaches the necessary amount of votes.

More information about how the Spotify Idea Exchange works can be found here.

Comments
schteff
Music Fan

This is how last.fm works, and it works good there. 

bigpark445
Regular

for me radiohead whole discography has been duplicated and it’s so annoying. it happens with other artists too 

hezorg
Rock Star 13
Rock Star 13
Status changed to: Need more information

Updated on 2020-12-20

Hey everyone!

Thank you so much for your votes and comments on this suggestion. Just to make sure we are on the same page when you say "duplicate songs", are you meaning that you are handling the exact same song twice on your playlists and searches or you are seeing different versions (e.g Delux, Live, acoustic) for the same song?

 

Give us more pieces of information in order to make things clearer 🙂

 

Thanks in advance!

mlidbo
Roadie

I'll use these different definitions for "exact same song" to help make things clearer:

  • Identical-URI: When copying the spotify URI from a song the URI is identical
  • Identical-display: The songs have the same exact Artist, Album, and Song title in a song list in Spotify. Identical-display songs should also be identical-audio songs, barring errors in the Spotify catalog.
  • Identical-audio: No listener can tell the audio of the recordings apart. These might however be from different albums. One from the standard, one from a Deluxe version, one from a country or continent specific release, one from a compilation etc etc. They may have differing amounts of silence before or after the audio and thus have slightly different lengths, but the audio is completely identical to a listener.

There are two facts that are the root causes of all the problems described in this idea:

  • For any identical-display song there is a high likelihood that there are multiple identical-URI songs
  • For any identical-audio song there is a high likelihood that there are multiple identical-URI songs

These two sets of multiple identical-URI songs are the duplicates this idea discusses.

 

It can be argued that fixing the problem for identical-audio songs is, in principle, a different issue from fixing it for identical-display songs, but I would argue that this is not what users want and need, and the suggested solution can handle both cases just fine. To the vast majority of users both Identical-display and Identical-audio equals "exact same song" and we do not want to have to deal with duplicates of both constantly. 

 

It would still be a significant improvement if Spotify only fixed the identical-display duplicates. But, if this solution is adopted, I see no good reason not to fix identical-audio at the same time since that is what users really want and need.

 

Just to be absolutely clear: Original vs Remaster, Original vs Remixes/Extended, Live vs Studio etc are absolutely not to be considered "same exact song" or duplicates of one another. If a listener can tell two different identical-URI songs apart, they are not considered duplicates in this idea.

 

I hope this clears things up.

 

Edit: Predicting the next question, here are spotify URIs for two identical-display songs in two identical-display albums. These albums also illustrate the Zombie Album problem. Only one of those albums is available on the Artist page. In the Zombie album all of the songs are liked for me. In the other album none of the songs are liked. In the zombie album none of the songs have popularity information. In the Artist Displayed album all of the songs have popularity information.

 

Artist Displayed Album Song: spotify:track:5eE32jMIxi10B9N4y30nkh

Zombie Album Song: spotify:track:0EIpjHPvBekPSc64GwcHEj

robert_joy
Gig Goer

mos def there at least needs to be a duplicate warning (e.g., when adding to a playlist) for songs that are otherwise indistinguishable from each another

Tallivm
Visitor

The most annoying consequence for me is when old albums are replaced with their duplicates, and liked songs disappear from my library without any notice (but still exist on Spotify with another id).

 

I would also love a notification system for songs which are deleted from Spotify.

hezorg
Rock Star 13
Rock Star 13
Status changed to: New Idea

Updated on 2020-12-31

Hello and thanks for bringing your feedback to the Idea Exchange. We've marked this as a new idea.
Spotify Staff will look into this idea once it reaches the necessary amount of votes.

More information about how the Spotify Idea Exchange works can be found here.

yeahitscharlie
Newbie

This is currently the biggest gripe with Spotify for me.  I feel like my a big part of my library got replaced at some point by a new version, and I have to manually fix everything. 

kendallrae
Visitor

I can't believe this is still happening, and I can't believe I pay as much money as I do to use an app that works like this. honestly the issue is not a "new idea", it's a basic function that should be fixed or streamlined, and it's getting even worse lately

illya
Regular

please PLEASE this is basic functionality that anyone who had a basic idea of the users of a music service like this would know that yes, even the dumb ones that don't know what they're doing would be confused and bothered by this function not being implemented! I don't think anyone hears a different song when they hear it repackaged with new album art for a re-release.  Spotify doesn't even support shuffle by grouping.

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