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April 20, 2003

Reference Review

I've posted links using AMG, the All Music Guide database, but haven't discussed the site itself as a ready reference tool. At a casual glance it seems to be quite useful - the page's design is visually dynamic, but remains organized and easy to follow. Near the top of the page there is a search field that allows users to search by artist, album, song, style, or label. A user can also click on buttons for major music styles, such as rock, country, jazz, folk, etc. Additionally, the menu options at the left offer links to music styles, music maps (which trace the family tree of certain styles), articles, a glossary, and AMG's series of print music guides and CDs. In the main body of the home page, users can click directly on thumbnails of new album releases for information. AMG also offers a daily featured musical style that provides users a brief introduction to the major artists and albums pertaining to that style. One of their recent featured styles was New Zealand (Kiwi) Rock.

Unsurprisingly, I generated a search on Neil Finn. As you can see from the results, there are various category listings pertaining to the artist, including tones to describe the overall quality of his music. A photo and brief musical biography are provided, with appropriate links embedded in the text. Other neat features include Related Artists, with links to similar musicians or collaborators, as well as an Artist Browser, which allows users to mouse over style preferences to generate other artists with different qualities, such as Daniel Lanois under the quality of "more Elaborate, Sophisticated." Discography information is naturally available as well.

Clicking on a link for an individual album, such as that for One All, provides bibliographic details - including a listing of the information in MARC format (for the non-librarians, this is the format in which books, CDs, etc. are cataloged for use in library catalogs)! A review of the album, track listings and album credits follow, all linked to information, when available, in the database. An interactive feature is the Music Expert Check, which allows a user to suggest what tones better describe the album's style, which may then be incorporated into the database.

The site is professionally maintained and there is a dedicated staff which continually updates the database material. Database statistics are even available. Additionally, users can click on a link that lets them provide corrections or additional material that will be reviewed and potentially added to the database. What's nice about the All Music Guide is that it's an quality information resource and not simply a commercial site devoted to pushing media sales.

Yours, &c., LC | 07:46 PM | Librariana , Music