Giving Credit

A couple of weeks ago I attended a “Summer Social” at the Rhapsody offices here in Seattle. They opened the place up in the early evening so people could come by, take a tour, talk to staff, and, if they were a programmer or web developer, pitch their expertise. The attendees also included a few curious people like me and some regular customers. The staff was very open and honest about their work, their small slice of the market, and attendee’s criticisms and occasional complaints about the service. One of the things everybody agreed with me about when I brought it up was the need for production and session credits, something that should be easy to include, at least with downloaded tracks, but for some reason rarely is.

Apparently the same problem bothers The Recording Academy, because last week they started a campaign to encourage the industry to include credits with downloaded albums and tracks. As usual with campaigns of this type, they’ve given it a cutesy name (“Give Fans the Credit”), and lined up a roster of big names (T-Bone Burnett, RedOne, Jimmy Jam, and others) to lend it a little oomph. I find it interesting that they’re directing their attention toward digital outlets rather than the labels. It would be easy enough for labels to include credits, and lyrics, in the ID tags of MP3s, but I don’t think they ever have. Of course, it may be the distributors who enter that information, which sounds like a dumb idea to me, but knowing the record industry, not a surprise.

One of my fantasies has always been to create a database, much like the IMDB, that would include session information for as many records as possible. My lack of knowledge of databases has always hampered the idea, and, since there have been a lot more records made than movies, it would be much larger than the IMDB. It still strikes me as good idea, though, and if it were limited to one genre, or one particular period of time at first, I think it’s feasible. I don’t look for the Recording Academy to spearhead that sort of thing, though. I doubt if there would be much money in it, despite its historical and research value. I’m not sure who would look at it except for researchers and people like me. I don’t even know if the upcoming generation of listeners is actually interested in credits. After all, the record industry got along without them for its first twenty years or so (liner notes were first introduced in the late thirties). It will probably remain one of my many pipe dreams.