Spotify just got a whole lot easier for classical listeners

One year ago, practically to the day, I posted this picture of what it looks like to search the complete Haydn symphonies on Spotify and lamented

“Please: we’ve had digital music for nearly two decades now. Can we start to get our act together on this?”


I mean, that list of results is basically useless. The legacy of a digital music tagging system that is designed for songs and albums, not works and movements.

Well, thanks to a tip-off from Ulyssestone (now on Spotify’s staff), whaddya know – today, the same page looks like this:


Good work everyone who made that happen. This is more like it.

The news gets better: slowly but surely, composer names are being added to the database too. Take a look at this image (from Ulysses’ blog):

Now we really are getting somewhere. It’s not ideal, sure – where there’s a second performer it’s not immediately clear which name is the composer and which is the performer. And the composer names thing only applies to Naxos-distributed labels so far – but that’s tens of thousands of albums already. However, this is definitely progress (from a very poor starting position), and it’s good to know that people are at least working on this stuff. Before long it will be possible to do a classical search on Spotify and reliably be able to find what you were after. Imagine.



14 thoughts on “Spotify just got a whole lot easier for classical listeners

  1. Ah, thanks for the heads-up! Just restarted my Spotify and lo, behold, there’s the new interface. Much better for classical music I agree. Now if only:
    – they would drop the ridiculous suggestions (these definitely don’t work for classical music)
    – they would allow you to look at the CD cover art more closely: this remains the only way to get more useful information about who’s doing what on the recording. It would be really brilliant if they allowed you to see both the front and back covers at a large size (i.e. large enough to read).

    1. Yes, bigger/zoomable cover art would be great, but I guess there’s a huge cost barrier with getting it all supplied at the appropriate resolution.

      The suggestions are hilarious. You listen to Rufus Wainwright once, and that’s all you’ll ever be recommended.

      1. Haha, secret Rufus Wainwright fan! 🙂

        For me, I listened to The Sixteen the other day and that has spawned all kinds of strange suggestions, the least inappropriate of which is: “You listened to The Sixteen. Check out Sergei Rachmaninoff”

        I’m sure they must have the cover art at a suitable size already, at least the front. If it’s anything like the ebook business (which I do a lot of work in for my day-job) then the suppliers will happily give high res front covers. The back covers, probably not, but it’s not as if the files don’t exist… one hopes!

  2. No the playlists themselves — and believe me I’ve tried to reorder mine, but as I follow basically everything Ulyssestone has put together, it’s a bit more involved than would be ideal.

  3. Thanks Tim. Currently composer are always displayed as the 1st artist at track level, as in Naxos and Harmonia Mundi’s catalog. If an artist is already displayed at album level (such as Richard Craig in Inward), then the artist won’t be displayed at track level on the album page. In playlist view you will see all artists (e.g. Craig displayed on every track). It’s probably a bit confusing at the beginning, but it’s not random (unless label’s metadata is wrong, e.g. Mozart entered as performing artist).

    The will happen to all classical content. In this Hilary Hahn album Schoenberg and Brahms are displayed, before the performing artists. It takes time to be more consistent (tweaking our logic, and getting better metadata from labels), but we are heading to the right direction.

    Happy Easter!

  4. In the three Spotify columns (song, artist, album), info ends with dots when the string is too long … proper ordering of classical music parts defined as “songs” often is only with the info in the substring suppressed by those dots (like part numbers). “Zoom out” Ctrl+- sometimes helps but often does not. How to read what these dots suppress???

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