By: Charles Bowen

Search Songs, Artists, More At All-Music Guide

Music in America is almost like a religion. As the faithful, we
define ourselves by the tunes and artists we like. We treasure
the details we know about our favorite performers’ lives and
work. We label the periods of our own lives by what we were
hearing on the radio at the time and by the albums we were
playing as our personal soundtracks.

And, like any good converts, we’re also ever-vigilant to ferret
out pretenders, to cast out the unworthy we find in our ranks.
So, want to embarrass yourself in your news columns? There’s no
faster, easier way than to play a few clinkers in your next music

Just, oh, say… write about “Limp Biscuit” or “In Sync” and
those simple spelling errors will put you permanently on the
outside of The Currently Cool. So maybe music’s not so much a
religion as a mine field, full of opportunities to misstep. And
with some many different genres of music to cover – there
are a half dozen different flavors of jazz alone, and don’t even
try to count the varieties of current rock and rock-like music
– how can we ever background ourselves sufficiently to
intelligently cover concerts, fan fests, tours, and new releases?

Time to cue up the All-Music Guide database. All-Music Guide is
an old-timer in cyberspace years. The resource already was in use
well before anyone had ever clicked his first click on the Web.
Since 1991, AMG has collected, processed, and linked information
for both in-print recordings and historical out-of-print titles.

The database brings together original content prepared by more
than 900 professional staff writers and freelance authors. Used
by music shops and bookstores, publishing houses and consumers,
it is widely acknowledged as the factbook on music. These
days it documents more than 455,000 popular music albums and
80,000 classical music releases, with nearly 50,000 artist
biographies that are searchable online.

To use the resource, visit the site at where
a search box at the top of the introductory screen invites you to
locate material by artists, albums, specific songs, musical
styles, or recording labels. Results are displayed in a
hyperlinked list which you can click on for more details. This is
ideal if you need to quickly zero in on a specific performer or
album, for those times when a band or a solo act is set to play
in your town.

And suppose you’re also working on a sidebar about the musicians
and you want to discuss the history of their style of music and
other key performers in that field today. From the introductory
page you also can browse the AMG data by clicking the link to a
musical genre, choosing from rock, country, jazz, blues, world,
folk, bluegrass, rap, raggae, vocal, gospel/contemporary
Christian, easy listening, or new age. The next screen provides
an overview of that type of music with tabs along the top of the
display that enables you to focus on various styles of that
genre, details on its key musicians, important albums, and new
releases. Throughout, articles contain hyperlinks for drilling
deeper into the subject.

Other considerations for using All-Music Guide in your work:

o Selecting the “Key Musicians” tab on any of the music genre
screens also can give you an informal popularity poll. Scroll to
the bottom of any of the resulting screens to find the site’s
headcounts of the “Most Frequently Accessed Artists.” This is a
quick way to find out who’s currently hot (at least among AMG-
savvy Net surfers).
o You also can use the site for your ongoing musical education.
Click the Articles and Glossary links on the introductory screen
for its collection of general data about specific types of music.
o Finally, if you’re a numbers nut, click the “Statistics” link
at the bottom of the screen to find out how many albums,
articles, and songs are now reviewed online.

Bowen writes columns, articles and books from West Virginia, and is host of the daily Internet News syndicated radio show (

Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher

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