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Spotify Enlists Its Users to Add Music Metadata (EXCLUSIVE)

Spotify has found a new way to beef up its knowledge about music: The company has begun to solicit music metadata suggestions from its users, asking them to describe genres of albums or moods of songs.

“Listeners describe music in different ways, and understanding that information will help improve, extend, and confirm the information that describes music on Spotify,” a spokesperson recently told Variety. “We hope to better understand how Spotify listeners interpret music, so that we can improve experiences for both listeners and artists.”

To that end, Spotify quietly opened up Line-In, a music metadata editor, to all of its users this month. Users of Spotify’s desktop app can access line-in by clicking on the three dots next to any song, album, or artist, and select “suggest an edit.”

Spotify line in

Line-In’s web interface.

From there, they are taken to Line-In’s web interface, which lets them suggest a wide variety of attributes, including the language of the lyrics of any given song, aliases used by an artist and even links to external websites.

Spotify first began testing Line-In with a subset of its audience last fall. “Over the past few months, we’ve confirmed our beliefs that listeners care deeply about the content on Spotify—they want the data to be useful and accurate,” said the company’s spokesperson.

“We’ve also seen that listeners are eager to describe the music they’re passionate about in ways beyond traditional concepts like genre and mood.” That’s why the company added the ability to use tags as descriptors as well.

It’s worth noting that Spotify treats all these data submissions as suggestions; users don’t have the ability to directly edit the metadata for music in Spotify’s catalog. “Spotify considers the source, and thoroughly reviews and checks the accuracy of this information, before the suggestions are folded into the data that powers our services,” its spokesperson clarified.

The company not only checks whether your submissions match what other users are saying, but also keeps track of your past performance. For instance, Line-In includes a number or surveys to test a submitter’s music knowledge. And if you completely mess up on your hip-hop test, you might have a harder time making your future contributions about the genre count.

Spotify is the first music service of its size to launch a tool like Line In — but the move is consistent with the emphasis the company has put on data in the past. Back in 2014, Spotify acquired The Echo Nest, a music metadata provider, for a reported $100 million.

And this month, it revealed in its F-1 filing with the SEC that it had amassed a total of 200 petabytes (about 200,000 terabytes) of data about music and the way its users access it. In the process of recommending, selecting and playing music, it accesses 5 petabytes of this data every single day.

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