Thursday, August 23, 2012

Recording Academy Tries To Bring Liner Notes To Digital

The Recording Academy image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
To those of you old enough to have experienced the joys of vinyl records, you know that one of the best things about a record album was the liner notes. Many times the liner notes (the description of the album and credits) on the back of a record was just as entertaining as the album itself (sometimes even more), and sometimes even lead to a record being purchased on impulse without knowing anything about the music inside.

As many have pointed out through the years, the liner notes are one of the things that are sorely missed in our Music 3.0 digital world these days. While the metadata (the data that describes the data) of the digital file can supply some of the info, it's usually not filled in by the record label to the degree that would inform a listener, and even then, isn't versatile enough to supply anything near the description of the old printed cardboard album cover.

The Recording Academy (the people that sponsor the Grammys) are aware of this discrepancy and have initiated a new program called "Gives Fans The Credit," in an attempt to encourage a return of liner notes to digital files. The problem is that they don't have a specific recommendation for exactly how to do that, so they have enlisted a team of industry "ambassadors" to speak to the various record labels and digital delivery services to bring the subject to the forefront. These ambassadors include T Bone Burnett, Jimmy Jam, RedOne, Sheila E, Lamont Dozier and Don Was.

I usually have issues with some of the Academy's policies, but I can't see any downside on this. Fans, especially super fans, are voracious in collecting information about their favorite artist, and the more info made available to them, the better. Depending upon how it's displayed, it may even help facilitate a few impulse buys as well.

While no specific plan on how the digital liner notes would be implemented was presented, you have to believe that the Academy has some ideas about this, at least I hope so. Going into any discussions without any ideas would be a disaster. Still, you have to give them credit for wanting to bring back the credits.

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