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Blog: Catalogue Logging

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This week I have undertaken an onerous ROCK ADMIN task which has stretched my patience to the very limit, as it has forced - FORCED - me to go through most of my own back catalogue, thinking about my own songs and reading my own lyrics. As anyone who knows me will guess, this has been AWFUL.

Oh all right, no it hasn't, I've had a lovely time! I can never understand people who claim not to like their own stuff - either they are FIBBING in an attempt to look COOL in the eyes of idiots (surely not!) or are telling the truth in which case WHY are they going round inflicting it on other people? Listening back to your own stuff is even MORE fun when it's OLD stuff that you have half forgotten about, as then it sounds like someone else wrote a song SPECIFICALLY TAILORED to your own thoughts and opinions!

The impetus for undertaking this task came from my esteemed publishers Wipeout Music, who emailed last week asking for some help. They're currently entering their entire catalogue into a new database and required a load of METADATA for every song, and so are having to go through THE LOT adding in song codes and other information by hand. For some reason they assumed that I would have most of the information about my own songs easily to hand, so wondered if I might be able to do my bit myself?

I'm sure I don't know WHERE they got THAT idea from - I am much too busy smoking doobie joints and ROCKING OUT to know anything at ALL about metadata, and certainly do not have some kind of "Database of ROCK" to hand recording in-depth information about songs, albums, PRS Codes, ISRC codes... oh, hang on, I TOTALLY DO! Thus I happily volunteered, and have spent the rest of the week a) copying across codes, song lengths, filenames etc into the spreadsheet they sent me and b) going through every song to add QUALITATIVE information.

This last bit has been the MOST fun. Each song has fields for "Mood" and "Lyrics", the first requiring a single word like "Happy" or "Sad", the second needing a brief representative section of lyrics. I assume both of these are so that Soundtracking/Advertising Types can do a quick search of the database to find, for instance, a Happy song which features the word "sozzled" or an Angry song featuring the word "architecture", so I've been trying to get 2-4 lines of lyric for each song which both captures the ESSENTIAL ESSENCE while also containing relevant KEYWORDS.

This has actually turned out to be a lot easier than I thought, as for most of my songs that is what the CHORUS is. It's much more difficult trying to boil down the MOOD to something sensible, and it's noticeable that certain words crop up more often on certain albums. "Nostalgic" comes up a lot for A Million Ukeleles, for instance, while there's an awful lot of "Christmas" on Christmas Selection Box!

The main problem, however, is that it's making me think "This song is dead good, why don't I play it at gigs more often?" Of course at the moment the answer is "Because you're not DOING any gigs!" but, in a broader, long-term sense, the answer is something like "Because it has that weird chord in that you had to overdub on its own in the studio after an embarrassing hour of incompetence" or "Because the middle eight sounds like the Bon Jovi song you clearly ripped it off from". Still, maybe if I DO get round to doing gigs again I'll actually make an effort to LEARN some of the older, non-gigged, songs again.

For now it's an enjoyable stroll through the back catalogue, which turns out to be FLIPPING LENGTHY. There's 156 songs in the database, and that's just the ones that were RELEASED on COMPACT DISC and iTunes, there's at least as many again that came out in other directions. How did I ever manage to maintain a COMPREHENSIVE DATABASE at the same time?!?

posted 21/9/2018 by MJ Hibbett

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