UI ideas for an Artist page in a streaming world

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Continuing the discussion from Clarifying "Release" in a streaming world:

Rather than hijack a two-year-old thread, and for people who don’t want to hold a discussion in the MBS-9536 Redesign of “Artist” Overview Page ticket, let me open up a new topic. What UI ideas can we come up with for a redesigned Artist page in a streaming world?

The difficulty is that handling streaming-primary artists and digitally-distributed releases will require design, design which hasn’t been done yet. So, the designer needs guidance about what options to keep open.

I can imagine three scenarios:

  1. Baseline: no special handling of streaming-primary artists. Streaming releases and digital music file releases get listed as “other”.

  2. The eventual design expands the definition of Release and Release Group to accommodate streaming releases and digital music file releases on a par with CD and LP releases. Then there is no implication for the design; the Artist’s “discography” will include entries which never saw a “disc”.

  3. The eventual design comes up with a new entity for streaming releases and digital music file releases, leaving the existing Release and Release Group to refer to CD and LP releases and the like. Then the Artist may have a “discography” for CD and LP releases, and a different “discography” (probably named something else) for the Streaming releases.

So, the first specific improvement suggestion for the UI overhaul is, consider the possibility that there may be more than one “discography”. Do mockups with multiple discographies. Will it be important for the system to tell the UI layout which “discography” is the primary one for each particular Artist?


Let’s first decide what exactly does and doesn’t fit in our current schema.

  1. Releases that are only released digitally, but still follow the album/EP/single paradigm (like a lot of things on Bandcamp do): They fit the current model fine.
  2. Releases that still follow the album/EP/single paradigm, but are only available for streaming and not “buy to download”: I think those fit the current model as well.
  3. Artists with only a Soundcloud/YouTube/smilar page with tracks available for streaming there: Here it gets tricky. Are they (streamable) singles with just one track? I always found “non-album tracks” a bit of a non-category, like a dumping ground for whatever. The pro of treating those tracks like singles is that they seamlessly fit in the current schema, the downside is that discographies can get huge.
  4. What other kinds of releases don’t currently fit in our schema? Until we have a clear list of things with definitions, talking about UI changes is useless.

I suspect that “a clear list of things with definitions” is part of design, and the design won’t be easy. We may not do it in time to catch the window of opportunity for the current UI redesign. What can we contribute to the current UI redesign, short of a full streaming-distribution design?

But if you don’t know exactly what the problem is, you can never design a solution.

To be honest, I don’t think streaming/digital offers that much of a challenge. As you can see from my list, most things already seem to fit quite nicely with what we have already. And if we want to find a place for the few things that don’t fit, then before a brand-new design is the right way to do it. After all, one of the main points of the redesign is getting rid of all of the inconsistencies introduced by bolting new features onto the old design over the years.

If there’s dissatisfaction with the way streaming music fits into the release/release group structure, perhaps it would be good to improve the data display on the artist ‘Recordings’ page, with a view to possibly using this as an alternative ‘discography’ for these streaming-primary artists.
Here is @chhavi’s current mock-up for the Recordings page:

Currently the table only has four columns: Title, Artist, ISRC, Length. Some optional columns that could be added:

  • recording date
  • performance attributes (cover/live/partial/instrumental/medley)
  • phonographic copyright holder and year of publication

Other possible improvements:

  • Show collapsible list of credits (Artist-Recording rels) under each recording
  • Show collapsible list of releases which recording appears on

This is all I can think of for now. The mock-up already includes some good improvements, such as a search box, sortable columns, etc.

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