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MusicPedia: Retrieving and MergingInterlinking Music Metadata


Pipina T. Nikolaidou, Stavros N. Shaeles and Alexandros S. Karakos
Abstract The rapid change of computers from isolated machines to networks and the need of people to exchange information lead us to the World Wide Web (WWW). Nowadays a lot of people are spending lot of hours in WWW searching information for every aspect of life. This increase of information in WWW, increase also the difficulty to find and access the information required. In response to this problem is Semantic Web, which is the field of web data from which actual meaning can be derived through analysis and machine learning. It is based on machine comprehensible information enriched with metadata and uses the Xml technology. While music is one of the most famous domains on web searches, music metadata would play a determinative role on music web searches. Music industry was traditionally known for its poor market research and analysis, but Semantic Web will improve its knowledge base. A very important issue on this domain is the fact that a music metadata standard does not exist and this leads to many significant problems, unresolved until today. We propose an approach to retrieve and merge dynamically music metadata from different databases in order to have more accurate and completed results. The retrieved metadata are written in Xml, which is a format widely used on Semantic Web. This paper describes a Semantic Web based application so as to retrieve and merge online music information from three different music metadata databases. Index Terms Semantic Web, Music database, Metadata, Retrieval, Merging, Interlinking, Xml, MusicBrainz, Last.fm, Discogs.

1 INTRODUCTION
ike any other technology, the web is evolving rather than quickly. The stages of its evolution are Web 1.0, Web 2.0 , Web 3.0 and Semantic Web as extension of Web 3.0. This progress and the central role of music and videos on Web 2.0 has provoked the need of designing systems to confront the complexity of enormous digital libraries, especially, on the music domain. Every day, millions of people are making searches of tracks, artists or albums and they are getting a considerable and unmanageable [1] amount of results, which have to be filtered by the users. The Web, as we hitherto know, is the reason of major changes on the music industry. The ability of music digitization [2] and the usage of the Internet as a tool of exchange both audio content and data that describes audio data, causes enormous amounts of information available for many people [3]. Consequently, the need for adequate representation of knowledge in the music domain has become necessary for a successful and efficient retrieval of music information. In this project, we tried to simulate an integrated music meta-search engine using the metadata of three wellknown music metadata databases (MusicBrainz, Discogs and Last.fm). These metadata are combined and merged

in order to be presented to the user. The paper is structured as follows: In Section 1, we firstly provide a brief overview of the evolution from World Wide Web(WWW) to Semantic Web and we analyzed the value of metadata. In Section 2, we are talking about metadata retrieval and music databases, concluding with the description of the way that the application retrieves the music metadata from every database used. This will lead in Section 3, where we describe some metadata schemas and explain how the application merges the retrieved results. In Section 4, an evaluation of the developed application is made, comparing it with a meta search engine (Metacrawler) and with Last.fm. Finally, in Section 5 the web application and the use cases are presented.

1.1 From World Wide Web to Semantic Web The first version of the World Wide Web, known as Web 1.0, was mainly addressed to humans. Most of the webs content was for human consumption, with static content that did not allow the user to interact with the websites. A large part of its success is based on Web Search engines. Despite the magnitude of the search engines success, they have significant drawbacks. The most impor tant disadvantage is the large amount of information pro Pipina T. Nikolaidou is with the Democritus University of Thrace, Devided, most of which are not particularly relevant to the partment of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Building A, ECE, Kimusers search, while the results are based on entry of a few meria Campus, Xanthi 67100, Greece. Stavros Shaeles is with the Democritus University of Thrace, Department keywords, ignoring their significance [4]. As a result, the of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Building A, ECE, Kimmeria user should repeat the search with different keywords Campus, Xanthi 67100, Greece. and filter the results to find the information needed. Alexandros Karakos is with the Democritus University of Thrace, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Building A, ECE, Kimmeria Therefore, one of the webs most important operations, Campus, Xanthi 67100, Greece. the retrieval of information, proved ineffective owing to the fact that the semantics of the web is currently non accessible by computer machines.
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The representation of the webs content in a format easily processable and understandable by computer machines and the use of intelligent techniques for the use of this content, is known as Semantic Web. It is a logical extension of the current Web, including a set of technologies and methodologies that enables computer machines to understand the semantics of the available information. This is the ultimate goal of the Semantic Web on music domain. The enrichment of available information with machine understandable semantics [5] will provide intelligent access to heterogeneous distributed information. Semantic Web will contribute to make the audio content and the information hidden in the songs, machinecomprehensible, improving in this way musics industry knowledge base. Semantics will enhance the end user browsing. In order to make music search easier and more accurate in the terms of the results, music elements should be enriched with semantics [6], [7], called music Metadata.

Despite the attempts of retrieval based on metadata, recent researches have been made on the domain of content based retrieval. A. Stercia and D. Miron have combined two different methods of information retrieving [9], the image retrieval based on metadata and the image retrieval based on the content. A. Pinto proposed a content based music retrieval [2] based on the new format IEEE 1599 for music and audio content description. Moreover, the dispersed music metadata reveal the lack of a fundamental music metadata standard universally used [10]. Efforts also have been made on the domain of combining and interlinking information from different web sources [12]. M. Singhi, Y. Ding and Y. Sun proposed Muzk Mesh [11], a mashup that combines metadata from MusicBrainz and Last.fm, using also Google maps, YouTube and Lyricfly.

2 RETRIEVING MUSIC METADATA


The current goal of multimedia research is to make multimedia information widely accessible and usable. There are two methods for music search and retrieval [9]. The first one is based on the music content [2] and the second one on metadata. The latter, despite its limits, is the most famous search method used on Internet, thanks to the low computational cost [9]. This method has been implemented in the presented application. Music metadata plays an important role on music search and retrieval techniques. The ontologies, based on metadata enables the access to the knowledge domain giving the opportunity to make semantic queries [14]. The most obvious possibility of the Semantic Web is the retrieval information not only from the Web, but also from digital libraries and metadata databases. The organized information based on semantic technologies has lead to the improvement of the search mechanisms with higher quality results in retrieval processes. Furthermore, the use of metadata to describe web resources allows automatic sorting and storage based on inference rules contained in the relevant ontologies. The information retrieval is related to the collection, storage, organization and retrieval of information objects. The field of information retrieval has grown considerably in recent years because of the abundance of information available, especially on the web (World Wide Web). Today, research related to the information retrieval includes classification and categorization of documents, structing, filtering and of course the specialized multimedia information retrieval.

1.2 Metadatas Value Music metadata is the data that describes a music element. Metadata enables content to be retrieved, tracked, and assembled automatically. It is machine understandable information about web resources and the foundation of every kind of information retrieval [4]. Metadata is the main solution to the pre-described problems of the search engines. It plays a central role in the effort of providing search techniques that go beyond string matching. From one hand the web resources [4] will be more accessible by search engines and from the other hand the Internet users will take more accurate results on their searches [5]. Despite all these, managing with music metadata often leads to several significant troubles that are still largely unresolved. Wrong, double, misspelled or missing metadata [6] are the most usual quality problems presented. Despite the problematic quality of music metadata, quantity is also considered to be a problem as multimedia metadata is sparse and expensive to produce [8]; most of the music metadata databases have been created the last few years, but still more are needed. 1.3 Related Work The abundance of digital information and the fact that the last years the Web Services have grown in popularity, giving more and more value to the new web, called Semantic Web, has lead the researchers to make attempts of metadata based retrievals. Robin Hensaw examines the effectiveness of metadata [4] by retrieving papers from a web only journal, the First Monday. E. Moutselakis and A. Karakos [8], have proposed an application to retrieve music metadata from MusicBrainz using its previous web service, based on RDF. Another approach, based on music information retrieval from Semantic Web has been made by M. Luger, Y. Ding, F, Scgarffc, R. Duan and Z. Yan [3]. In this paper, a Semantic Music Retrieval Portal, EASAIER, is presented. This application uses MusicBrainz to retrieve the required metadata interlinking them with additional sources.

2.1 Music Databases Music collections are one of the most popular categories of multimedia content, being shared more and more on the web. Whether on-line or off-line, musician librarians index and describe the music with metadata tags to describe their features, such as title, composer, performer, etc. The implemented application uses three metadata databases. There are a few more apart from them, but in order to access them and obtain their data, a subscription

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fee is required, while others do not provide any Application Programming Interface (API) to access their metadata. Mainly these reasons led us to choose and use MusicBrainz, Discogs and Last.fm. MusicBrainz (http://musicbrainz.org) is a community based music metadata database used for CD recognition. It contains artists, tracks, labels and releases and is [15] one of the first, of what might be called, Semantic Web Services. Discogs (http://www.discogs.com) offers a well-formed web service with good indicators to different production houses and publishers. Last.fm (http://www.last.fm), the widely recognized social recommendation music service, provides a web service to retrieve users, artists, groups and tag data . As already mentioned, these may not be the only databases that exist with music metadata. In 1996, Compact Disc Database (CDDB) was created using a similar system with the system used by MusicBrainz but after a few years the database was bought by Gracenote, imposing severe restrictions on the use of metadata. In response to the limitations set by Gracenote, another database was created, FreeDB, whose metadata will remain free. Despite the fact that this database can be used to find music information, its metadata is not provided in a standard XML format so it is difficult to be used by external applications. Another famous, but commercial database and not freely available, music metadata database is All Music Guide (AMG), owned by All Media Guide. At this point, music database Pandora (http://www.pandora.com) should be also mentioned. It is a website that preserves one of the largest music databases in America and the mode of its operation has much in common with Last.fm. Each song in Pandora has been indexed, categorized, and assigned attributes. To achieve this, it is based on Music Genome Project. According to this project each song is analyzed by music experts, who tag every song with around four hundred separate music features. The main reason, though, that MusicBrainz, Discogs and Last.fm have been chosen to implement our application is that they provide an Application Programming Interface (API), which can be easily used by the programmers to add databases functionality to their own applications.

the REST design principles. This database [15] uses its own format metadata schema, which is called MusicBrainz XML Metadata Format (MMD). According to MusicBrainzs Web Service (http://musicbrainz.org/doc/XMLWebService), there are two different ways to access its metadata. In the first way this access is granted if the user knows the unique identifier (mbid) assigned to each object in the database. In the other case, the user requests the resource directly to obtain access to the metadata. The implemented application uses the first way, because it is easier for the users to search what they need with a text based research. The url schema used is presented in Table 1. TABLE 1 MUSICBRAINZS URL SCHEMA
http://musicbrainz.org/ws/1/artist/ http://musicbrainz.org/ws/1/track/ http://musicbrainz.org/ws/1/label/ Collection of all artists Collection of all tracks Collection of all labels

For a successful access to Discogss metadata, we used databases Api:http://www.discogs.com/help/api. Discogs provides information about Artists, Releases, Labels and its API also supports a RESTful interface. This means that the application interacts with the API by sending http Get and Post requests and the user gets Xml documents as a resutl. The url schema used is presented in Table 2. TABLE 2 DISCOGSS URL SCHEMA
http://www.discogs.com/artist/ http://www.discogs.com/label/ Gets Artist Discography Gets Label Discography

2.2 Music Metadata Retrieval Retrieving music metadata in our application can be easily achieved by using http requests to the metadata databases. Every request is different, but consistent with the databases metadata Schema. The result of every request is an xml file, which is temporarily saved to the users computer. The analysis of the xml file is being processed using Dom Parser. The result of this analysis is the retrieval of the desired metadata, followed by the representation of them to the user, using a common html schema. Interaction with MusicBrainzs web service is done using http requests and all content is served in a simple but flexible XML format [6]. The service's architecture follows

Discogs focuses its searches on the releases. Specifically, every possible search gives releases as a result. For example, the url request for an artist returns to the user all the artists releases. The Last.fms API (http://www.last.fm/api) allows an application to call methods that respond in REST style xml, supporting a large number of methods that can be used. The API root Url is located at http://ws.audioscrobbler.com/2.0/. It supports multiple transport formats but responds to Last.fms idiom xml by default. Despite the number of the provided methods, our application uses few of them to integrate clients research, giving them the possibility to expand their search in every possible domain (artist, album, track, label, tag). The url schema used is presented in Table 3. TABLE 3 LASTFMS URL SCHEMA
http://ws.audioscrobbler.com/ 2.0/?method=album.getinfo http://ws.audioscrobbler.com/ 2.0/?method=artist.getinfo http://ws.audioscrobbler.com/ 2.0/?method=album.search http://ws.audioscrobbler.com/ 2.0/?method=tag.getinfo Gets the album playlist Gets info about an artist Collection of all albums Gets into about a tag

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3 MERGING - INTERLINKING METADATA


The heterogeneity in data representation prevents the interconnection of multiple sources for an effective search and retrieval of information scattered across these sources. The Semantic Web intends to improve the existing web overcoming these issues. The base to achieve this, is a public official standard for the music domain; a common form of ontology. The use of a common standard will help to complement information between different databases. In fact, this may lead to other problems while sometimes the same fields would have different content, forcing the user to decide which of two or more has more consistent results [16]. Merging can be implemented among different databases, but it can also be implemented on the results of only one database. As mentioned, most music metadata databases are the result of a community effort, so for the same artist or the same song there are more than one entry. Therefore, it would be possible to implement a merging before presenting the results to the user. In this way, the final results would be more valid to the query and the user would be released by making its own filtering. Without a consensual music metadata standard there is no possibility that a meta-search engine machine will merge statically metadata from different databases. The development of a fundamental music metadata standard that will be accepted and used universally by all Internet users will help search engines to evaluate the unusable sometimes metadata.

work [8], previously described, is based on the retrieval of music metadata only by one database, MusicBrainz. The main innovation presented in this article concerns the fact that the implemented application searches for music metadata among more than one music metadata databases. At the beginning of this project, our goal was to merge the metadata results of different databases, in order to present to the client more integrated and precise results. Although, further studying on the different APIs, showed that every database has a different metadata schema, which does not follow any official standard; so, the first goal had to be readjusted. Trying to find another way to merge these results, we took advantage the fact that of the different metadata schemas the results were combined in a more dynamic merge. The application uses every database separately and the retrieved results become a possible input for a more specialized search in another database. The combination of the three databases on the artist domain is presented on Figure 1. As it is presented, the first retrieval is being implemented on MusicBrainz. The user is making a research using a keyword. MusicBrainz returns as a result all the artists similar to the keyword used. Afterwards, one of the results can be used to expand the research in two ways. The user can choose to see the discography of a specific artist or some further information of a specific artist. The first retrieval, the retrieval of the discography is being implemented on Discogs, despite the further information that is being retrieved by LastFm.

3.1 Music Metadata Standards The search process and the problems faced with the retrieval and the combination of information from the Semantic Web, make obvious the need for coding; the need of a standard that will be followed by databases and will facilitate the process of searching and merging information. The music domain suffers from the lack of a metadata standard generally accepted, although the last years there are certain music metadata standards prevail. The creation of a metadata schema can arise in several ways. It can evolve from the design of an application, which in broad agreement establishes a standard. There is not any metadata standard currently available for music that covers all possible requirements [10]. There are a lot of different music metadata schemas. The most well known are Mpeg-7 [17], [1], which has been used by a large number of projects, id3 and mmd (MusicBrainz XML Metadata Format). ID3 is used in the most popular audio format [16], mp3, and mmd is the metadata schema used in MusicBrainz [15]. 3.2 Dynamic Merging Interlinking Sometimes a music research is based on specific portals that have information only for a specific kind of music, or lacks of information that are available on other portals. For example, the application developed on the earlier
Fig. 1. Merging Diagram on Artist Domain

Figure 1 displays only a part of the possible researches, as the user can expand his result as much as he desires. For example, an artists search can lead the user to read information for a tag or a label search can redirect the user to last.fm in order to listen to a song.

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The combination of the databases in the other researches, track and label, is being implemented in similar ways. The main difference is presented on the album search because as it will be explained in the next Section, we do not make any merging. During the users research, depending on the level that he wishes to expand it, the information is collected from the different databases and the metadata is then linked together to create relationships. The results presented are taken from different databases and this leads to the necessity to inform the user the results' source.

spite the previous cases. When the user chooses to learn some more information for a specific artist, Last.fm returns artists biography, similar artists and the tags (genre of music) on which the artist is being ranked. At this point, if the user wants to learn some further information about this tag, he can just click on it and Last.fm will return a short description of it.

4 WEB APPLICATION
4.1 Use Cases MusicPedia is a web application that combines the web services of three music metadata databases, Last.fm, MusicBrainz and Discogs. When an artist is searched, MusicPedia takes the artist name and sends an http request to MusicBrainz to search for the artist. MusicBrainz sends the result in Xml format and the application presents the result to the user in an html format. From the artists found in MusicBrainzs database, the user can choose to view someones discography or learn some further information for him. If the user clicks to see a discography, the application sends an http request to Discogs and gets the result as xml and presents the artists discography giving the album title, format, label and year of release. At this point, the user has two more choices: the first one is to see the tracks of the album just by clicking on the album title or check the discography of a label with same way. For the tracks the http request is being sent to Last.fm and for the Labels discography the http request is being sent to Discogs. When a track is searched, MusicPedia takes the track title and sends an http request to MusicBrainz to search for the track. MusicBrainz sends the result in Xml format and the results are once again presented, in an html format, to the user. For every track, the application takes the name of the artist and the album title that includes this track. At this point the user has two choices to expand his research: if he wants to learn some more information for the artist he has to click on the artists name or he can choose to see the tracks of the album; in both cases an http request will be sent to Last.fm. When a label is searched, MusicPedia takes the name of the label and sends an http request to MusicBrainz to search for the label. After this step, if the user wants to see other albums for a specific label, the application uses Discogs. The albums of the discography are presented with their title, their artist, and their format. Finally, if he chooses to expand the research he can click on the artist or on the album. The album search is the only case where the application does not combine more databases, as MusicBrainz has been proved insufficient at this domain and Discogs does not provide the possibility to search an album by name. The reason that MusicBrainz has not been used on the album search is the fact that the results returned includes only albums with the exact keyword inserted, de-

4.2 MusicPedia The described retrieval and merging techniques are used in our Web application, which can be found at http://tios.ee.duth.gr:9081/MusicSearch/. A user can research a particular artist, album, track or label by entering a simple search term that corresponds to part or to the entire name of the search item. First of all, the user chooses the kind of search (artist, album, track or label) and afterwards he enters the search term. One of the search pages of our Web application is figured on Figure 2. The results are displayed in Html format, in order to be easy for everyone, not only programmers of the Semantic Web, to use the application. An example of the presented results is figured on Figure 3.

Fig. 2. Search Page

An Apache Tomcat Web server was used with Java Standard Development Kit (SDK), in order to support Java Servlets.

Fig. 3. Page Result

For systems implementation, we used proper technologies and languages with open source software components. For server side script programming the application uses Java Servlets and for the presentation of the Web pages and results, it uses HTML combined with CSS.

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5 EVALUATION
5.1 Comparing with a meta-search engine The meta-search engine chosen to be compared with our application is Metacrawler (http://www.metacrawler.com) as it is one of the first meta-search engines. The comparison will be made on the results that our application and Metacrawler will return to the entry Madonna. As we can see on Figure 4, metasearch engine Metacrawler returns some links related to the famous artist Madonna.

6 CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE WORK


One of the main problems of Semantic Web on music domain is the fact that music metadata is parse and expensive to be produced and this is the reason why that the music metadata databases that exist are few. Therefore, the creation of multiple music ontologies and thus the increase of data stored in an xml format is necessary for an efficient use of the ever developing technologies of the Semantic Web. In addition, as it has been observed, the lack of common standards and metadata schemas create more difficulties in accessing and using any information that is music related. The presented application can contribute to the solution of searching music metadata among different databases. The main purpose was to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Semantic Web in the cases of combinational searches. In the chaotic world of Internet with the significant amount of irregular information and the ever-increasing number of users, the rules and their implementation will play an important role in Semantic Webs success. In an ideal world, there would be an initiative, which would determine the metadata standard for music domain and according to that the Web would be enriched with metainformation. There are several areas for future work. From a Semantic Web point of view, an interesting challenge would be a combination of context based with content based metadata. This would lead to more accurate and multidimensional results. Moreover, any attempt of standardization would be very interesting, as it was one of the major problems faced during the development. Finally, from a more general scope, the combination of more Web Services, beside metadata based, on a web application would have as a result meta-search engine with many possibilities, that could be very useful for an ordinary user, music searcher.

Fig. 4. Metacrawlers result for Madonna

On the contrary, as we can see on Figure 5, MusicPedia returns at the beginning all the artists with the name Madonna, leaving on the user the option to choose on which artist to expand his research.

Fig. 5. MusicPedias result for Madonna

5.2 Comparing with Last.fm Another comparison that can be made is with one of the metadata databases used in our application. As we have seen on Figure 5, when the user makes a search for an artist, MusicPedia uses this artist as a keyword, returning to the user all the artists found on MusicBrainz by this search. On the other hand, as we can see on Figure 6, Last.fm returns first of all the artist named Madonna and the following results are duets of this artist.

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Pipina T. Nikolaidou received the Degree of Applied Informatics from University of Macedonia in 2008. She completed her master in Electrical and Computer Engineering in Democritus University of Thrace in 2011. Her e-mail is: pnikolai at ee.duth.gr Stavros N. Shaeles is a member of the IEEE and the IEEE Computer Society. He received his diploma in Electrical and Computer Engineering in Democritus University of Thrace in 2007. Currently he is a phd student in research area of data mining with applications to computer security and administrator of LPDP Lab in DUTH. His email is: sshaeles at ee.duth.gr. Alexandros S. Karakos received the Degree of Mathematician from the Department of Mathematics from Aristoteles University of Thessaloniki, Greece and the Maitrise d' Informatique from the university PIERRE ET MARIE CURIE, Paris. He completed his PhD studies at university PIERRE ET MARIE. He is Assistant Professor at the Dept. of Electrical and Computer Eng., Democritus University of Thrace, Greece. His research interests are in the areas of Distributed systems, data mining, data analysis and programming languages. His e-mail is: karakos at ee.duth.gr.

2011 Journal of Computing Press, NY, USA, ISSN 2151-9617