(I have raised these issues, and there was some discussion, here.)
I want some sort of improvement on how to do quick search on Primary Artists, or another way of handling Album Artists.
The current situation:
We have album artists, which is just a text string, it may or may not include names of actual artists (so you may get blue links, or just white text).
We have Primary Artists, real links to artists (blue links).
We have Credits, all performers.
(Credits include composers, there are some special capabilities for composers, I’m not discussing that here.)
We have three ways of searching.
- The most convenient is the funnel search: it isn’t specific, it can search for album artists or album title. And there is minimal clicking overhead. Click on the icon and type, and it refines the search by keystroke. Behaves like a modern Google search. It can do a mixed search, both artists and albums, fractions of strings; this is huge, if I type “miles” I get not only Miles Davis’s albums, but also tribute albums like “4 Generations of Miles” and “Miles Espagnol” (and 900 Miles by Bethany and Rufus, but never mind). Also activated with the slash key. Disadvantage: it looks only at album artist, not primary artists. (I remember otherwise, but i guess I’m wrong.)
- Focus/Performer. This searches for all credited performers. That’s ok, I don’t particularly need the other artists, but I can live with it. But it is very click intensive: click on focus, scroll right, click on performers, click in entry field, type a few characters, click on the appropriate artist, click outside the performers popup, click outside the focus popup – 7 clicks! Plus it looks at artists only, cannot find album titles.
Both of those have the advantage that the results are shown in the current browser context, e.g. Focused by tag, and sorted, etc. There is a third option:
3. Search, which produces an entirely different result, not related to the current context. Useful, but not what I’m talking about, and I use it very seldom.
My problem is that the funnel search is great in every way, except it only looks at album artists, not primary artists.
And album artists are a pain in the neck. It’s a text string, which means it is a pain to type, and you might write “Silk Road Ensemble” when the proper name is “The Silk Road Ensemble”, and for names in other languages than your own, typos are rife. In fact, it is common to have the metadata defaults wrong in this sense.
So what I typically do is select all the interesting names as Primary Artists, and select only one or two as Album Artist, to minimize this problem. Except the funnel filter won’t see them.
So one solution would be to make the funnel filter respond to primary artist. It is a little bit inconsistent, the funnel should apply to the primary index of the current view, but consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.
The other solution would be to change the Album Artist to behave more like the Primary Artists selection. @Mike recently wrote about the benefit of having just a text string without the rigor of a database reference, and I see that. For example, there are two Avishai Cohens, and I have created artists with the names “Avishai Cohen (bass)” and “Avishai Cohen (trumpet)” and I reference those as Primary Artists (blue links), but I let the default “Avishai Cohen” remain as album artist (white link). So ok, we need to support the simple text string. But we need an option to leverage the primary artists, as more organized database links, when that is better (almost all the time, in my view). Could be a check box in the Album Artist area for “Use Primary Artists” – except we need a way to order them. Or something else clever.
I’m open for suggestions. But I need something. This is a common case. And just to emphasize the broad applicability, it is for both jazz and classical!