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




It is really nice that spotify already has the information about composer and performer.


But on my notebook with a small screen it is impossible to actually get to this information. In the Artist column there is only so much space for the composer. The screenshot shows the same piece over and over again, but the performer is hidden behind the "...". Thus it is very hard to see which performers performed the piece.


For orchestras it is even worse as there are at least 3 three names needed: Composer, conductor, name of the orchestra.


Especially, when you're on a popular composers spotify page, it is a mess of albums and pieces, as there are thousands of them. I suggest that each piece should only be represented once. Then there could be a drop down menu to change the performer or pick different variations of that piece.



I hope that you guys will find a great solution for this problem soon.

Casual Listener

Beautifully put.

Casual Listener

Infiormations on track could still be improved.

Details cannot be seen and are not written in the description. Especially for classical music, that's a problem. Should appear : composer, performer(s), orchestra, conductor, place and year of recording.

And the visual of the album could be bigger.


I would really like to see better Classcial music information.  Many times I will review an album "date" and it is deceptive.  It is an older album but having a date that it was added rather than the recording date.  It would be good to have folders with the main folder of Albums as well.


In addition, it just isn't fun not having the notes, pictures, etc that I would review as part of a CD or Vinyl recording.  It is a big gap. When I select the picture of the Album cover, I should be brought to an extensive page of information on the artists, their lives, etc.  Hire some music librarians... I'll send you my resume, and work from home all day on keeping the research up to date!! My dream job!!


As well... and I know this won't be popular, but I want classical musicians to have more money!  I know they're not as popular as the 'big names'... but I'd be willing to buy into an optional package where besides the foundational costs paid to get access to the service, I could specifically try to help classical musicians.  An internal crowd funding service of some sort.  







I am not a composer but coming from Classical Archives I can tell how poor the Spotify database is if we search for composers. This is not a fantasy. It is essential to know who composed the music we listen. I very enjoy Spotify but If I search for a composer (as I do very often, and sure I am not they only one), I am conterned each time to see they are not recognized as such. Please Spotify, do have a true musical repertoire: you have the composer and the musician(s) who play her or his compositions. Speaking of her, Spotify lists in classical music looks like boys club. But this is another subject.


Seeing how many people agree on this topic, please Spotify ... come with a user interface especialy for classical music and please extend you choise of performances of the same work!!! Spottify can become very interesting for lovers of classical music. Now classical works are pushed in suit that doesn't fit. Looking for classical works can become very frustrating. There has to come a classical mode for Spottify. You'll see how much more people will be interested in 'Spottify Classic'.

This is not a mayor operation for programmers of software. Just a little bit more metadata, another use of jargon and e.g. the grouping of tracks. Maybe an extra high end mode for uncompressed listening (with advanced buffering techniques).  
Why wait?! Act now!



Agree need a classical interface 


I am a fan of Lera Auerbach. Today I have discovered that she is one of the composer on the album "For David and Wu Han". I am very lucky to have see her name on the picture of the album which is not listed on her artist page (because the name of the composers are not present on each track of the album). This is the kind of situations inconsistant labeled tracks produce. I have wrote to the recording label and they will reach Spotify asking that they "list the composers of the works on "For David and Wu Han" in the "artist" column so that [I] can search by composer much more easily". The recording label tell me that all the pertinent informations had been given to CD Baby who distribute the digital album and I am quite sure CD Baby did transmit it to Spotify. This is not the first time I reach the record label or the composer to tell them they are not listed on each track where they should be mentionned. We need this vital information. How can we know what compositions of a specific composer are in Spotify whitout the name of the composer mentionned on each track? Are we suppose to know all recordings of each composition made by any ensemble, orchestra, or solist ?? I must say I have found many interpretations of compositions because the name of the composer is present in the track or artist field, but I am quite sure I have missed many because it is not present. It would be much more consistant with a specific column for the composers. I love jazz too and this is very frustrating to know that many standards are not attributed to the composer or song writer. Are we suppose to know every recording of any jazz standard ??


Amen!  I listen to many kinds of classical music and am frustrated by the lack of composer metadata.  Spotify treats classical music in the same way as popular, which requires less metadata since the performers are usually the composers.  Also each movement is treated as a "song" making listening to the "radio" channels frustrating to those of us who desire continuity in our classical pieces from beginning to end.  I gave up my CD collection to Half Price Books, because Spotify had the vast majority of my titles.  However, not having the content data and liner notes of the CDs is a substantial loss.

Do it better, Spotify!  That's what we Premium subscribers want.


There seems to be a communication problem between Labels and Spotify (I know the chain is more complex as there can be a digital distribution company between the Label and Spotify). When I asked a Label to demand Spotify to list correctly the composers names, they answered me this : "we have no control over how Spotify lists things". So I had to explain they have control by sending this answer:

On Mar 27, 2017, at 12:44 PM, Michelle Monette (email) wrote:
The Spotify team will be very please to fix the listing, as you can see by reading this answer to a demand to list correctly the composers:

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!

The answer was given in respond to a demand for better composer metadata. You can read the demand and the answer here: https://community.spotify.com/t5/Live-Ideas/Why-Classical-Fans-NEED-Composer-Metadata-and-what-that-... 

When the name of a composer is in a track list, Spotify add a specific page for her or him. It is very easy then to find all tracks they have from the composer.

Michelle Monette

Le 27 mars 2017 à 12:16, Jessica (...) wrote :

Thank you for your suggestions. However, we have no control over how Spotify lists things but I would be happy to forward your suggestion to see if we can notify them. 


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