More song information, please

An experience I had last night with Rhapsody highlights a big drawback of most digital services--lack of information about the song you're listening to.

Matt Rosoff
Matt Rosoff is an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, where he covers Microsoft's consumer products and corporate news. He's written about the technology industry since 1995, and reviewed the first Rio MP3 player for CNET.com in 1998. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network. Disclosure. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattrosoff.
Matt Rosoff
2 min read
Tony Markellis played bass on this live Trey Anastasio recording, but you won't find that information very easily if you use one of the big downloading services.

Last night, I had an interesting experience that pointed out a drawback of digital music services compared with the tried-and-true CD (or LP, or cassette). For the last few years, I've played with a very occasional pickup band--maybe one party a year, preceded by a half dozen rehearsals, then everybody back to their jobs/families/"real" bands. This year, we're playing a St. Patrick's Day party, and in the past, we've done a version of the Phish instrumental "First Tube." We wanted a quick refresher, so one of the guitarists fired up his copy of Rhapsody, found a live solo version by Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio, and we were on our way.

Until, in typical self-absorbed bass player fashion, the bass player (that's me) asked "so who played bass on this song?" I asked because I admired the bassist's restraint--he stuck exactly to the original bass line, which consists of three notes repeated in the same quick figure over and over and over again. (I lack such restraint.)

Rhapsody offered no answer. iTunes doesn't carry the album in question, but does have another live version of the song from an Austin City Limits compilation. Alas, no artist information there either. The Zune Marketplace offered a bio on Trey himself, but nothing about the particular band on this album. Yahoo Music has a full review from AMG, but no album credits. Instead, I had to go to the AMG site itself, find the live album "Plasma," and click on the "Credits" tab to find out that it was one Tony Markellis.

Hats off to you, sir. And a big bass raspberry to all the major music services--this information's available, it's coded in an online repository that's widely accessible, and none of you are offering it. Or if you are, it's so deeply buried that mere mortals can't find it.