Why Classical Fans NEED Composer Metadata (and what that could do for Spotify)

Dear Spotifymozart_earphones.jpg --


Meet me: I am a 32-yr old classical musician, and typical of your frustrated (yet somehow still optimistic) classical music listening audience. We need two very specific things from you (at the bottom of this post) in order to fully take part in this awesome community. Please hear me out.



First, why should you want more classical music lovers?


1) We pay for the music we love (translation: more paid memberships for Spotify)

2) We passionately share our love for classical music (i.e. more potentially social Spotify users)

3) We teach others about classical music; we are music teachers in schools and universities and conservatories everywhere. We have the power to make Spotify-listening a requirement in our classes (i.e. more new, young users for Spotify)

4) We fight hard for the music we love (this is why we keep writing even after you've determined our posts "case closed")



What you need to know about how classical musicians currently use Spotify:


1) First, we buy memberships immediately (well, immediately after the first symphony we try to play is interrupted by an ad). This is fine! Totally worth it. Incredibly cheap, even. (I donate much more to my local public radio station per year.)


2) Next, we immediately realize we have to search elsewhere for composer/songwriter info -- leaving Spotify and often finding another place to hear what we were searching for (i.e. not returning to Spotify)


3) If we DO come back to Spotify, we discover there's a Classical app called Classify. Classify is cute, but you can't be serious. There are exactly two composers listed in the Contemporary Classical category (Glass and Pärt... good choices, though, I'll give you that).



Why you and I don't know each other yet:


Spotify doesn't yet know how to quantify what I'm listening to, because I'm listening to my favorite composers over and over again, and you don't require your labels to give attribution to the composer. So you have no idea how to predict what I will like.


This has major implications for your "targeted" advertising, featured artists, and email recommendations -- these are never remotely relevant to my musical tastes. I never click them. Which means I'm only coming to Spotify to listen to specific things I already know I love (once I've determined the particular album or performer's name in order to search for it). I listen and I leave.  I'm not exploring Spotify's other artists, not getting involved in the Spotify community, and not using any additional features -- social or otherwise -- that Spotify has to offer. Plus, neither are my classical-music-loving friends, so why bother.



But Classical fans actually really NEED Spotify right now!  Why?


1) To find like-minded fans. Classical music lovers have fewer and fewer places to "geek out" with each other. Our orchestras are going under, our non-profit organizations are seeing diminishing donations, our school programs are being cut... we are aching for a place to share our love for classical music.


2) To keep up with a quickly-changing genre. Classical music is blurring more boundaries than ever. It is being infused with so many rich and exciting influences and cultures. It's changing every day and we desperately need a place to keep up with it.


3) To pay our beloved, favorite artists. With no other alternative, we're uploading our performances (even commercially-released tracks, often illegally) to YouTube, which (unlike Spotify) doesn't pay the artists and is not a sustainable business model for our industry. We're shooting ourselves in the foot providing so much free content there. But, unfortunately, that's where our classical community is listening to music right now.



The Two Things Classical Fans Need Are:


1) Consistently-labeled track titles, particularly for multi-movement compositions like symphonies and operas. We need you to demand that this title metadata be streamlined, organized, and consistent across all your labels so that we can hear multi-movement works the way the composer intended them.


Andy Doe at Naxos has the best description I've found for how classical track labeling should work. Note his asterisked editorial at the bottom of his post:

* Spotify doesn’t show you the composers. Just try to find a specific classical recording on Spotify, and you’ll quickly see how maddening this is: the content is all there. You just can’t sort through it. Spotify is, though, a relatively young company, and I think they’ll probably fix this in time. If you want a really good classical streaming experience, you might prefer to use Naxos Music Library or Classics Online.


2) A designated "Composer/Songwriter" (or Writers) column, and for Spotify to put pressure on your participating labels to use it. This column needs to be:


  1. LEGIT and CONSISTENT: It should be implemented without a 'hack' (i.e. without adding composers into the track field or artist field) so that this metadata can be consistent from here on out. And so labels know what Spotify requires so they can submit it properly.
  2. TRACK BY TRACK: Must be implemented at the track level (not a composer assigned to the entire album, for obvious reasons.)
  3. SEARCHABLE: Searching by composer name should bring up their songs.  I understand horizontal space is at a premium, especially for mobile users, so I wouldn't be surprised if this "composer/songwriter" column is optional to view (which would be fine).  But it still must be searchable data, even if the user has hidden the column.
  4.  SORTABLE: Just like the other columns, which are fantastic.
  5.  CONNECTED: This is a wish-list item, but it would be the most awesome to click on a composer name and have their info pop up from All Music Guide, or wherever (but All Music Guide is excellent), just like the performing artist does.


How our world changes as soon as you do this:


Not only would these changes drastically improve Spotify's search results, and open up the Spotify experience to an entire music-loving audience (and over five centuries of music!), but these improvements would change the way Spotify is used socially.  For the first time, we music creators ourselves will be able to find and promote our OWN Spotify tracks to our fans.


If that sounds crazy, it is. But because of the way music licensing works, most published classical composers (yes, we're still alive) don't even know our music is on Spotify. To put it in pop-music-speak: all our songs are "covers," so -- since we can't find our names on Spotify as a composer -- we need to search Spotify by title. (Heaven help us if we've written an "Alleluia" or a "Sonata No. 1" or an arrangement of "Joy to the World" with gobs of search results to listen to, just to see if it's the one we wrote!)




I spend a lot of time doing two things: composing new music, and trying to build a fan base for that music. If composers like me could simply search our own name to find our music on Spotify... wouldn't we (who are increasingly entrepreneurial) and our fans be all over social media, advertising tracks, asking people to listen, and asking friends and fans to join Spotify to share new compositions?


And classical fans are just the tip of the iceberg... wouldn't jazz and folk and musical theater composers & songwriters all immediately change their marketing models when they realize they can search for the music they wrote on Spotify?


We can't hear the music we love, and we can't share the music we love, until we can FIND the music we love.


PLEASE improve track titling, and PLEASE add a Composer/Songwriter (or Writers) column.


And, above all, thank you for Spotify. It's a great concept and I am thrilled that it's available in the USA, and licensing music legally. Now please make it classical-user friendly and let us help you grow your membership even further -- for the benefit of all of us.


You build it, Spotify, and we will come!


Suzuki violin students

Updated: 2015-11-19

Hey everyone! We're here to say this idea is still definitely 'Under Consideration'. We know this is one of your top requests in the Idea Exchange. While we don't currently have a 'Composer' column, we have made changes to give our users more info about classical tracks.

Today the composer is list as the first artist for classical tracks where the label has provided this information. If the composer is missing then we are getting in touch with the right teams to fix this for users. When we have any more updates on this we'll let you all know here, thanks!


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Related Ideas

Music Fan

I know this isnt going to be easy to implement but PLEASE do this!!  


Casual Listener

I must add that such increase in information completeness benefits all genres. In my jouney in Cantopop, I have noticed some composers I like a lot, but unfortunately only the singers are searchable.


Of course when it comes to songs sung, like opera, lyricist is another key part that I wish is also searchable.


Sorry if this has been said already (I haven't read all 14 pages) -

what is needed is simply that you can find classical music by searching for the name of the composer as that is nearly always the first point of reference for this music. Far too often, it is only the name of the performer that is in the data, which makes searching for classical music almost impossible.

I suspect that the people who put in the data might not have enough knowledge to be able to look at an album and select the right information. If that's the case then I'd like Spotify to give me a job doing it.


Absolute approval! Please adjust the comfort für premium users and listeners of classical music to minimum standards. I am willing to pay more - if the money finds its way to the artists, proper indexing and recording information.


Spotify, you have the power to do this.


Seriously!! This has everything that I'm needing from Spotify in one great post. Can you not hear the passion and earnest in the author's writing? We really want this because we love Spotify and -- more importantly -- we want to KEEP loving it! Please!


Also, if you could please update Classify so it has the same features and organization, that would be great. It still has users starring tracks instead of saving them! 


Perhaps Spotify could lease the technology and database contents used by Classical Archives. They have an excellent search feature per composer, divided into categories of work, making it very easy to find what you want to hear.


Agreed profusely!


I'm both pleasantly surprised at the breadth of classical catalogue that Spotify has, while deeply disappointed with the primitive metadata available. I'm wondering if perhaps this isn't something that could be thrown to the community via API hooks or similar...I would be more than up for participating if so...just so sad to see so much potential going to waste.




While I agree with most of the above especially Euphonium Bob, I was surprised at the extent of classical music on Spotify especially the amount of older recordings.  As one who has done some music library cataloguing I am aware orgainising the metadata so that everyones contribution and aperformance rights are recognized is no simple matter  Listing sonatas, symphonies according to fomr, Opus No, Key etc is not that simple either.


I look forward to reading comments of other listners on musical works and recordings.  However I am glad to see artists and composers are acknowleged for their royalties and copyright 


Totally agree.  My classical music searches turn up maybe 20% of what I am looking for.


Also, I would appreciate links to buy the CDs of the performances that I like.  


Why wait for Spotify to improve its metadata, when there is a new music app, specifically designed for classical music, which answers all of the problems raised on this thread?


The app is called IDAGIO, and it aims to tackle all of the problems that classical music enthusiasts face when trying to listen to music digitally.


Our music library is curated by a team of musicologists and collates thousands of hours of hand-selected masterpieces in the palm of your hand. The app is based on relevant and correct metadata, so you will not be left frustrated by not being able to locate what you are after.


At IDAGIO, we are a small team that combines decades of experience in both classical music and digital music products, and we are passionate about improving this user experience. It’s an ambitious goal and the road ahead is long, but we are starting now!


The app will launch in closed BETA in the coming weeks and we need your help! Just click HERE and add your email into the field at the bottom of the page. We will send you the download page on its launch date.

Happy listening!