LinerNotes beta launch day 5 – ‘What is LinerNotes?’

Sorry for the hiatus; it was a busy weekend. I participated in the NYC Monthly Music Hackathon, continuing work on my project Videodrome (a HypeMachine/Exfm for music videos.) I’m aiming to release it publicly next month.

Much more importantly, I pressed the button on on Saturday night. The beta is now live, publicly accessible, and has gone four days without exploding.

There was a bunch of interesting process involved that I’d like to blog about, but I need to write something else first. I realized over the weekend that I obviously should have started this series by answering one simple crucial question…what the heck is LinerNotes, anyway?

Actually there’s more like three questions:

1)   What is LinerNotes right now?

2)    What will LinerNotes become?

3)    Why bother building something like this in the first place?

I’m going to answer in reverse order.


This deserves it’s own blog post and I’ll probably write one soon. But the short answer is very simple – because I’m a curious person. I genuinely love learning things. And right now, it’s too hard for me to learn about and find music (and a great many other things.)

Many people are satisfied with whatever pops out of Google or Wikipedia or Pandora. Well, I’m not. I want more. I want a lot more. If you don’t then LinerNotes is probably not for you. At least not today.

LinerNotes is hand-tailored to the way I want to listen to music. I want my experience to be fluid, effortless, and richly contextualized. I want an endless stream of music that really affects me emotionally, and I want to know how that music and the artists who make it fit into the broad and wonderful history of music. I want to spend my time listening and learning and ruminating, not seeking and scrounging and clicking. The more I know about my music, the more I like it. And as hanging out with my friends constantly reminds me, there’s an awful lot I don’t know.

What will LinerNotes become?

I want LinerNotes to bring all information about music together in one place. All of it. But I want to keep it organized enough that you can find any fact or song just by describing it, e.g. “bands from Liverpool in the 50’s.”

LinerNotes is going to become the Virgil to your musical Dante, guiding you from the hell of tired silence up into the golden light of musical rapture. LinerNotes is going to become the Mrs. Robinson to your musical Benjamin, guiding you from music novice to musical master and then going straight up crazy when you try to date our musical daughter.

LinerNotes will be there for you on every step of your music experience, from helping you learn about and remember what you already love to helping you find what you’re going to love next. LinerNotes isn’t loyal to any label or big corporation – we’re only loyal to you.

What is LinerNotes today? is a very early beta right now. It’s not the realization of my grand vision –  it’s just the first version I can show to people without cringing from embarrassment.

Right now, LinerNotes is basically just an overlay on top of Wikipedia, but with some really useful you-friendly enhancements: 

  • It’s condensed. Because we love the Beatles, but we don’t five-pages-of-unbroken-text love the Beatles.
  • We’ve got complete discographies for nearly every artist, including bootlegs and rarities. Plus pages for every song and album, often complete with credits.
  • Our dangerously-advanced search system lets you search using concepts like “people who play the ukulele” or “bands who’s hometown is Manchester”. Press the “hard mode” button on the homepage to give it a try.
  • You can browse genres and record labels to find new bands. Have you seen all the great acts on Jagjaguwar?
  • You can start listening immediately using Spotify or YouTube (click the “Videos” tab.)

We’ve got an extremely long list of additional features we’re going to add on top of all that, but we need your help to decide what to build first.

So welcome to LinerNotes. Please give it a try and leave feedback telling us what you like, what you don’t like, and what your musical experience today is missing.