Pulse Wave

A few questions about up- and downloads at Pony.fm

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As EqBeats' days are counted, the next best place to publish pony music seems to be Pony.fm. However, I do have a couple of questions about it:

 

So music has to be uploaded in a lossless format. I'm perfectly okay with this, but I have yet to find a song that can be downloaded in a lossless format, preferably FLAC. I know that that used to be possible. Has this feature been removed, and does Pony.fm only offer lossy downloads, or is there simply a setting on the musician's side whether or not to offer lossless downloads? Because that'd be pretty critical for me.

 

Also, it seems like Pony.fm has moved away from the pre-defined genres (the main reason why I originally didn't want to publish there) and adds anything that's in the tags of the uploaded audio files to the list. Am I right? Is this feature here to stay? And what happens if there are multiple genres in the Genre tag which is perfectly standard for Vorbis comments, for example Synthpop; Italo Disco?

 

Does Pony.fm alter tags, and if yes, in which ways? Is it okay with all standard Vorbis comments, maybe even the proposed additional tags (such as Lyricist, Arranger or Original Artist), or does it delete anything it doesn't know (and be it month and day in Time which are standard for Vorbis comments, too)?

 

I mean, I could go look for myself since I should technically have a Pony.fm account now, but I'd like to hear some answers from those who know for sure.

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If speaking all honesty, Pony.fm looks neglected to me right now. The issues and posts could stay without attention for a long time.

That makes me sad though.  :(

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Hi Pulse Wave,

 

Thanks for popping over! Pony.fm recently integrated the MLP Music Archive (and some aspects of the integration are still being worked on) which affects a few of the things you asked about.

 

 

So music has to be uploaded in a lossless format. I'm perfectly okay with this, but I have yet to find a song that can be downloaded in a lossless format, preferably FLAC. I know that that used to be possible. Has this feature been removed, and does Pony.fm only offer lossy downloads, or is there simply a setting on the musician's side whether or not to offer lossless downloads? Because that'd be pretty critical for me.

 

 

Lossless downloads, in FLAC and ALAC, are alive and well! However, they're only available for tracks that we have a lossless master for. This is the case for all artist-uploaded music (since Pony.fm only accepts lossless uploads) but not for the MLP Music Archive (most of the MLPMA came as 320 Kbps MP3's).

 

Since it doesn't make sense to transcode lossy audio to lossless, the MLPMA's content is only offered in lossy formats. You might only have happened to come across MLPMA tracks so far when looking at the download options - this is entirely possible since Pony.fm currently has ~9 MLPMA tracks for every direct upload.

 

 

 

Also, it seems like Pony.fm has moved away from the pre-defined genres (the main reason why I originally didn't want to publish there) and adds anything that's in the tags of the uploaded audio files to the list. Am I right? Is this feature here to stay? And what happens if there are multiple genres in the Genre tag which is perfectly standard for Vorbis comments, for example Synthpop; Italo Disco?

 

 

When the MLPMA was imported, all genre tags in its source files were turned into Pony.fm genres - this is why the site has a very long genre list now (and there's an open task to trim it a bit; there are a bunch of duplicates in it, among other issues).

 

When you're uploading as an artist, you still have to choose from one of the available genres - the genres tagged in the file, however many there are, are ignored.

 

This was a design decision made to avoid having a lot of incredibly specific genres on Pony.fm that only have a song or two in them. Limiting the list to broader genres, each with a decent amount of content in it, makes for a better listener experience. Now that the MLPMA added several hundred genres, however, the genre list isn't as useful as it used to be, so let me know if you'd like a new genre added.

 

 

I plan to rewrite genres, as well as Pony.fm's other taxonomies, to function like booru-style tags - from what I've learned since I started Pony.fm, that kind of structure better reflects how diverse music really is. This would mean the following:

  • a track could have multiple genres
  • a genre will be able to imply another genre (so "orchestral dubstep" would also show up in search results for "orchestral", "dubstep", and "orchestral dubstep" music)

Broad genres will continue to exist and be useful as before in this system while allowing tracks to be "properly" tagged with whatever specific sub-genres they fall into. Of course, formats like Vorbis comments that support multiple genres will work well with this system, too.

 

 

Does Pony.fm alter tags, and if yes, in which ways? Is it okay with all standard Vorbis comments, maybe even the proposed additional tags (such as Lyricist, Arranger or Original Artist), or does it delete anything it doesn't know (and be it month and day in Time which are standard for Vorbis comments, too)?

 

Pony.fm strips all tags from uploaded files and writes its own into the downloads based on the information you fill in on the site.

 

There are two reasons for this:

  • security - this makes it more difficult for someone to transmit malware via Pony.fm using a very carefully tagged file
  • consistency/integrity - Pony.fm being aware of all tags in its downloads means the following:
    • there's no chance of unintentionally overwriting or removing a tag when a track or album is updated
    • the information in the tags can be written into every format (and used in organizing the website itself, too)
    • a file's tags can be regenerated from Pony.fm's database in full when inconsistencies arise

Are there specific tags that you'd like to see supported?

  • Brohoof 2

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Hi Pulse Wave,

 

Thanks for popping over! Pony.fm recently integrated the MLP Music Archive (and some aspects of the integration are still being worked on) which affects a few of the things you asked about.

 

 

 

 

Lossless downloads, in FLAC and ALAC, are alive and well! However, they're only available for tracks that we have a lossless master for. This is the case for all artist-uploaded music (since Pony.fm only accepts lossless uploads) but not for the MLP Music Archive (most of the MLPMA came as 320 Kbps MP3's).

 

Since it doesn't make sense to transcode lossy audio to lossless, the MLPMA's content is only offered in lossy formats. You might only have happened to come across MLPMA tracks so far when looking at the download options - this is entirely possible since Pony.fm currently has ~9 MLPMA tracks for every direct upload.

 

 

 

 

 

When the MLPMA was imported, all genre tags in its source files were turned into Pony.fm genres - this is why the site has a very long genre list now (and there's an open task to trim it a bit; there are a bunch of duplicates in it, among other issues).

 

When you're uploading as an artist, you still have to choose from one of the available genres - the genres tagged in the file, however many there are, are ignored.

 

This was a design decision made to avoid having a lot of incredibly specific genres on Pony.fm that only have a song or two in them. Limiting the list to broader genres, each with a decent amount of content in it, makes for a better listener experience. Now that the MLPMA added several hundred genres, however, the genre list isn't as useful as it used to be, so let me know if you'd like a new genre added.

 

 

I plan to rewrite genres, as well as Pony.fm's other taxonomies, to function like booru-style tags - from what I've learned since I started Pony.fm, that kind of structure better reflects how diverse music really is. This would mean the following:

  • a track could have multiple genres
  • a genre will be able to imply another genre (so "orchestral dubstep" would also show up in search results for "orchestral", "dubstep", and "orchestral dubstep" music)

Broad genres will continue to exist and be useful as before in this system while allowing tracks to be "properly" tagged with whatever specific sub-genres they fall into. Of course, formats like Vorbis comments that support multiple genres will work well with this system, too.

 

 

 

Pony.fm strips all tags from uploaded files and writes its own into the downloads based on the information you fill in on the site.

 

There are two reasons for this:

  • security - this makes it more difficult for someone to transmit malware via Pony.fm using a very carefully tagged file
  • consistency/integrity - Pony.fm being aware of all tags in its downloads means the following:
    • there's no chance of unintentionally overwriting or removing a tag when a track or album is updated
    • the information in the tags can be written into every format (and used in organizing the website itself, too)
    • a file's tags can be regenerated from Pony.fm's database in full when inconsistencies aris 

Are there specific tags that you'd like to see supported?

Answered it much better than I could :P 

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If speaking all honesty, Pony.fm looks neglected to me right now. The issues and posts could stay without attention for a long time.

That makes me sad though. :(

That'd be a pity if both pony music hosting services that allow user uploads stopped being developed. And I have my doubt that any new ones will appear, seeing as nopony was willing to take over EqBeats. Even the MLP Music Archive spent a few years in limbo and abandonment.

 

Lossless downloads, in FLAC and ALAC, are alive and well! However, they're only available for tracks that we have a lossless master for. This is the case for all artist-uploaded music (since Pony.fm only accepts lossless uploads) but not for the MLP Music Archive (most of the MLPMA came as 320 Kbps MP3's).

 

Since it doesn't make sense to transcode lossy audio to lossless, the MLPMA's content is only offered in lossy formats. You might only have happened to come across MLPMA tracks so far when looking at the download options - this is entirely possible since Pony.fm currently has ~9 MLPMA tracks for every direct upload.

That's good to read. So what few pieces of music I've checked actually came from the MLPMA, I guess.

 

When you're uploading as an artist, you still have to choose from one of the available genres - the genres tagged in the file, however many there are, are ignored.

 

This was a design decision made to avoid having a lot of incredibly specific genres on Pony.fm that only have a song or two in them. Limiting the list to broader genres, each with a decent amount of content in it, makes for a better listener experience. Now that the MLPMA added several hundred genres, however, the genre list isn't as useful as it used to be, so let me know if you'd like a new genre added.

Unfortunately, now that the MLPMA has been integrated into Pony.fm, it's impossible to see what genre tags are available unless you've uploaded music. (Or did you actually add all the MLPMA genres to the official Pony.fm list?)

 

And I know the MLPMA. It gave you "incredibly specific genres" aplenty, however, mostly not actually existing genres, but typos, misspellings, ponifications and completely unrelated stuff, not to mention mis-taggings — as far as I know, nothing in the MLPMA that's tagged "blues" is actually a blues. (By the way, are there any plans on fixing the MLPMA's still existing issues, maybe even "crowdsourcing" that by allowing other bronies to report obvious bugs and/or suggest improvements? I still have a whole list of MLPMA errors.)

 

I plan to rewrite genres, as well as Pony.fm's other taxonomies, to function like booru-style tags - from what I've learned since I started Pony.fm, that kind of structure better reflects how diverse music really is. This would mean the following:

  • a track could have multiple genres
  • a genre will be able to imply another genre (so "orchestral dubstep" would also show up in search results for "orchestral", "dubstep", and "orchestral dubstep" music)
Broad genres will continue to exist and be useful as before in this system while allowing tracks to be "properly" tagged with whatever specific sub-genres they fall into. Of course, formats like Vorbis comments that support multiple genres will work well with this system, too.

 

Now that'd be great if you could pull that off. I mean, last time I checked, to give you a few examples, there were lots and lots of subgenres of modern electronic dance music, but ska was thrown in with punk (ska isn't necessarily punk, but I guess many believe that ska is punk rock + horns), and reggae was absent altogether. Also, I think that several pretty much unrelated "black" genres (at least jazz and funk) were thrown together. I'm not quite sure whether synthpop was available.

 

In a sense, this might seem justified, seeing as by far most brony musicians cannot make music with anything else than their computer, so they're bound to electronic music. But you never know when what kinds of exceptions might pop up.

 

Pony.fm strips all tags from uploaded files and writes its own into the downloads based on the information you fill in on the site.

 

There are two reasons for this:

  • security - this makes it more difficult for someone to transmit malware via Pony.fm using a very carefully tagged file
  • consistency/integrity - Pony.fm being aware of all tags in its downloads means the following:
    • there's no chance of unintentionally overwriting or removing a tag when a track or album is updated
    • the information in the tags can be written into every format (and used in organizing the website itself, too)
    • a file's tags can be regenerated from Pony.fm's database in full when inconsistencies aris
While it's understandable, it's a pity for someone who likes to put a lot of effort into detailed tagging.

 

Are there specific tags that you'd like to see supported?

The tags (Vorbis comments) that I need or might need are (not quite sure about the exact tag names):
  • ARTIST (obvious, but it would be great to not have this hardwired to my Pony.fm display name and be able to change it; that'd allow for collabs to be correctly tagged instead of shoving the "feat." part into the title and for having multiple projects, each with their own ARTIST tag, under one and the same account)
  • TITLE (obvious, too)
  • GENRE (preferably without having to pick from a drop-down list and wait for an indefinite amount of time to have the genre this new piece of music belongs to added to the list, also supporting multiple entries within the same tag, separated by semicolons)
  • DATE (YYYY-MM-DD – yes, that's standard for Vorbis comments)
  • COMPOSER (again, multiple entries, separated by semicolons)
  • PERFORMER (not mandatory, but I myself use this tag for listing up the musicians involved in the making of a song, including their respective instruments)
  • VERSION (can be used for both different versions of the same song and remixes)
  • COMMENT
  • LYRICIST (see COMPOSER)
  • ORIGINALARTIST and ORIGINALTITLE (non-standard, for covers and parodies)
  • of course ALBUM, ALBUMARTIST, TRACKNUMBER and TRACKTOTAL for the albums, ideally also DISCNUMBER and DISCTOTAL for those who want to simulate or have actually published a multi-disc album; the numbers should always be two-digit unless exceeding 99
  • ReplayGain tags — REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_GAIN, REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_PEAK, REPLAYGAIN_ALBUM_GAIN and REPLAYGAIN_ALBUM_PEAK — should never be removed altogether. And if they absolutely have to be wiped, the audio file should be ReplayGain analyzed anew after upload, and the ReplayGain tags should be renewed
  • Brohoof 2

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That'd be a pity if both pony music hosting services that allow user uploads stopped being developed. And I have my doubt that any new ones will appear, seeing as nopony was willing to take over EqBeats. Even the MLP Music Archive spent a few years in limbo and abandonment.

Yeah, I've been thinking about that too. The music side of the fandom is huge but there are so few Internet resources devoted to collect, save and systemise brony music. That's odd.

I guess everypony uses YouTube, Soundcloud and Bandcamp and doesn't bother to have their own separate site. Or maybe it's a big financial problem.

  • Brohoof 1

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That'd be a pity if both pony music hosting services that allow user uploads stopped being developed. And I have my doubt that any new ones will appear, seeing as nopony was willing to take over EqBeats. Even the MLP Music Archive spent a few years in limbo and abandonment.

Pony.fm went through something of a development hiatus earlier but it has a steady future ahead of it now and a stable organization behind it. There's also a project in the works for artists to bring their EqBeats content to Pony.fm.

 

While no one can predict the future, the combination of Poniverse's backing and Pony.fm being open-source now (and built with common technologies - ie. PHP - that many developers will be comfortable with) is something of an insurance policy against Pony.fm drying up. At the very least, we're financially sustainable and committed to keeping the lights on as a place for music that the fandom can call its own.

 

 

Unfortunately, now that the MLPMA has been integrated into Pony.fm, it's impossible to see what genre tags are available unless you've uploaded music. (Or did you actually add all the MLPMA genres to the official Pony.fm list?)

 

And I know the MLPMA. It gave you "incredibly specific genres" aplenty, however, mostly not actually existing genres, but typos, misspellings, ponifications and completely unrelated stuff, not to mention mis-taggings — as far as I know, nothing in the MLPMA that's tagged "blues" is actually a blues. (By the way, are there any plans on fixing the MLPMA's still existing issues, maybe even "crowdsourcing" that by allowing other bronies to report obvious bugs and/or suggest improvements? I still have a whole list of MLPMA errors.)

 

 

All MLPMA genres are in Pony.fm's official list now - the site has only one genre list.

 

One of my current tasks with Pony.fm is building a tool that allows admins to manage the site's genres, largely spurred by the mistakes and inconsistencies in the MLPMA. Aurelleah will then be able to clean them up.

 

Considering the sheer volume of content, crowdsourcing this "re-tagging" effort makes sense - and it would be useful beyond MLPMA, too; any track could benefit from better tagging.

 

I see several stages to accomplishing this:

  • Adding a clearly visible admin email address to report these issues.
  • Adding a report form that lets you send written feedback about a track's tags to a site admin. An admin then fixes it.
  • Allowing all users to edit a track's genre and "track type", with the result submitted for approval by the track's uploader or an admin.
  • Same as #3, but now with booru-style tagging instead of Pony.fm's current, rigid taxonomies.

Now that'd be great if you could pull that off. I mean, last time I checked, to give you a few examples, there were lots and lots of subgenres of modern electronic dance music, but ska was thrown in with punk (ska isn't necessarily punk, but I guess many believe that ska is punk rock + horns), and reggae was absent altogether. Also, I think that several pretty much unrelated "black" genres (at least jazz and funk) were thrown together. I'm not quite sure whether synthpop was available.

 

In a sense, this might seem justified, seeing as by far most brony musicians cannot make music with anything else than their computer, so they're bound to electronic music. But you never know when what kinds of exceptions might pop up.

Exactly - "Ska/Rock/Punk" isn't a genre; it's three. This kind of tagging system for the site would make for both a cleaner genre list and more effective searching. Where downloadable files are concerned, some tagging formats happily support multiple genres, too.

 

Such a tagging system would also allow music to be grouped by distinctions that arise organically; "Avast [X]'s Ass" remixes became some kind of category in their own right and that could be accommodated. Perhaps someone will make hayburger songs a thing and we'd be able to create a tag for that, too. This will be far more adaptable to everything we crazy fans come up with. :P

 

In case you're interested, I wrote up a more technical description of this style of tagging here.

 

 

While it's understandable, it's a pity for someone who likes to put a lot of effort into detailed tagging.

 

The original intended use case for Pony.fm's publishing process was for artists to export a lossless file from their DAW, upload it, and do all the tagging with Pony.fm. I wasn't aware that there was much enthusiasm for more detailed tagging and it didn't come up during the site's alpha way back when, but it's absolutely something that could be supported.

 

How about if Pony.fm pre-filled what it could from tags in the upload and added support for a whole lot more tags? If you prefer tagging your files offline, this will leave a lot less work for you on Pony.fm.

 

 

The tags (Vorbis comments) that I need or might need are (not quite sure about the exact tag names):

  • ARTIST (obvious, but it would be great to not have this hardwired to my Pony.fm display name and be able to change it; that'd allow for collabs to be correctly tagged instead of shoving the "feat." part into the title and for having multiple projects, each with their own ARTIST tag, under one and the same account)
  • TITLE (obvious, too)
  • GENRE (preferably without having to pick from a drop-down list and wait for an indefinite amount of time to have the genre this new piece of music belongs to added to the list, also supporting multiple entries within the same tag, separated by semicolons)
  • DATE (YYYY-MM-DD – yes, that's standard for Vorbis comments)
  • COMPOSER (again, multiple entries, separated by semicolons)
  • PERFORMER (not mandatory, but I myself use this tag for listing up the musicians involved in the making of a song, including their respective instruments)
  • VERSION (can be used for both different versions of the same song and remixes)
  • COMMENT
  • LYRICIST (see COMPOSER)
  • ORIGINALARTIST and ORIGINALTITLE (non-standard, for covers and parodies)
  • of course ALBUM, ALBUMARTIST, TRACKNUMBER and TRACKTOTAL for the albums, ideally also DISCNUMBER and DISCTOTAL for those who want to simulate or have actually published a multi-disc album; the numbers should always be two-digit unless exceeding 99
  • ReplayGain tags — REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_GAIN, REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_PEAK, REPLAYGAIN_ALBUM_GAIN and REPLAYGAIN_ALBUM_PEAK — should never be removed altogether. And if they absolutely have to be wiped, the audio file should be ReplayGain analyzed anew after upload, and the ReplayGain tags should be renewed

 

Thanks for putting this list together - it should be possible to support all of these. UI-wise, most of these could be part of an "additional tags" menu in the track editor so that they'd remain editable after uploading without throwing off an artist who only cares for the basics.

 

Some specific comments on them:

  • ARTIST - There are two ways to support collabs - a freeform "artist" field or building an actual concept of collabs/multiple artists into the site (which, like any other "supported" tag, could then be searchable, written as multiple tags where supported, and used to show the song on every artist's profile).
    • Ideally, I'd like tagging a track with multiple artists to result in it showing up on multiple artists' profiles. Perhaps this is unrealistic?
    • This page describes some of the specific issues involved - I'd appreciate your input on those and an extended conversation on how to go about this.
    • If it's a freeform field, even if separated by semicolons, what will those tags actually end up looking like? Is "Brony5; Ft. PonyFan999" an acceptable multi-artist ARTIST tag, considering "Ft." isn't part of PonyFan999's name?
  • TITLE - This has always been there in Pony.fm. Am I missing something?
  • GENRE - I explained where I'd like to go with this in my comments on a booru-like tagging system, but that's some ways into the future. In the short term, this might work better as a freeform text field with autocomplete and the ability to add multiple genres.
    • A site admin, in combination with a user report feature, would be able to use the genre management tool I mentioned earlier for quality control of this tag.
  • DATE - this is the release date, right? Pony.fm asks you for the month, year, and day of a track's release (and assumes the current day if you don't provide it). This data is already stored by the site but if more of it could be written into Vorbis comments, that's a bug.
  • COMPOSER - see ARTIST; the same considerations apply.
  • PERFORMER - I assume Vorbis comment supports multiple of these, too, in which case the same considerations as ARTIST apply.
  • VERSION - this sounds like it should be a simple, freeform text field that we don't try too hard to structure. I have some ideas for how to pull that off but it may end up more complicated than it's worth.
  • COMMENT - Pony.fm adds a "Downloaded from Pony.fm" credit here, much like Bandcamp does. But, this field could contain both that credit and an actual comment by the artist, too.
    • The COMMENT field could correspond to the track description - so the track description gets written into the field when you download a file, and the COMMENT field in an uploaded file pre-fills the track description. Do you foresee any issues with this?
  • LYRICIST - see ARTIST; the same considerations apply. This would be another form of "link to other fans who were involved with this track" field.
  • ORIGINALTITLE - this data already exists in Pony.fm for remixes of official show songs. Today I learned there was a tag for it, even if non-standard! :o
    • Remixes of fan-made songs and ponified non-pony songs will make this field and ORIGINALARTIST really interesting but may be unrealistic, and the data could be structured by a human at a later date. This could be an entire separate discussion.
  • DISCNUMBER and DISCTOTAL - this should be part of an enhancement to albums in general, to allow a "disc split" to be inserted between tracks. There's already a GUI in place for reordering tracks in an album and this would be an addition to that.
    • Uploads that come with an ALBUM tag could automatically be grouped into a Pony.fm album and "disc splits" inserted into it automatically if these two tags are present, too.
    • Should DISCNUMBER=1 and DISCTOTAL=1 be present in albums that only have one disc or weren't meant to be split across them to begin with?
  • REPLAYGAIN and co. - I need to do some reading on these. If ReplayGain data can be reconstructed from the audio file, it probably makes sense to be able to generate these tags server-side for all of Pony.fm's tracks, whether the original uploads come with them or not.

Yeah, I've been thinking about that too. The music side of the fandom is huge but there are so few Internet resources devoted to collect, save and systemise brony music. That's odd.

I guess everypony uses YouTube, Soundcloud and Bandcamp and doesn't bother to have their own separate site. Or maybe it's a big financial problem.

 

I attribute this to a few things:

  • There is a relatively small number of software developers in the fandom - compared to artists, writers, and musicians - who are capable of building such projects in the first place.
  • If you're paying out-of-pocket to host a pony site, music can become financially demanding even with relatively little traffic (Poniverse, fortunately, is sustainable in this regard and covers its day-to-day expenses, but this is unusual among fan sites in my experience).
  • It's oddly difficult to get the fandom media to acknowledge music sites and the people who build them, and do their part in building public support for these projects, even though art, conventions, music, games, and all kinds of other cool stuff gets shared all the time.
  • Some artists want to sell their pony music. I'm not opposed, in principle, to allowing music sales through Pony.fm but it's a potential legal minefield and may require an only-sell-original-songs restriction to keep everyone safe. This limits the appeal of pony music sites to some artists.
    • Side note: Bandcamp, as a general music site, is in a better position to turn a blind eye to infringing works being sold through their service and claim they had no idea it was going on should it ever come into question. Pony fan sites will have a harder time making such a claim.
  • Some artists want their pony and non-pony music together in one place but a pony music site is, by definition, not the place for the latter. This limits the appeal of pony music sites to some artists.
  • YouTube, even though it's not a music distribution platform, has a huge number of people actively looking for content there, which can help artists get their music discovered. Ignoring it means missing out on free attention.
    • Side note: half the reason pony fans go looking for pony music on YouTube is because the pony media and the artists they already know send us there. If EqBeats and Pony.fm links and embeds around the ponynet happen more regularly, and we see artists more actively promoting their music on pony sites, this picture will look quite different. Look at Fimfiction for an example of how content creators made a once-brand-new pony site relevant to the rest of us.

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Pony.fm went through something of a development hiatus earlier but it has a steady future ahead of it now and a stable organization behind it. There's also a project in the works for artists to bring their EqBeats content to Pony.fm.

Yeah, I've read about the latter. Together with the MLPMA, that'd mean that most freely available pony music will be gathered in one place, namely on Pony.fm.

 

All MLPMA genres are in Pony.fm's official list now - the site has only one genre list.

While that list is pretty messed up due to "non-tags" and misspellings, that's good because it adds to the old list.

 

One of my current tasks with Pony.fm is building a tool that allows admins to manage the site's genres, largely spurred by the mistakes and inconsistencies in the MLPMA. Aurelleah will then be able to clean them up.

I've seen that you've already taken care of misspelled artists at least.

 

Considering the sheer volume of content, crowdsourcing this "re-tagging" effort makes sense - and it would be useful beyond MLPMA, too; any track could benefit from better tagging.

 

I see several stages to accomplishing this:

  • Adding a clearly visible admin email address to report these issues.
  • Adding a report form that lets you send written feedback about a track's tags to a site admin. Anadmin then fixes it.
  • Allowing all users to edit a track's genre and "track type", with the result submitted for approval by the track's uploader or an admin.
  • Same as #3, but now with booru-style tagging instead of Pony.fm's current, rigid taxonomies.
Either way, it should be the admins who ultimately take care of the tags, at least as far as former MLPMA material is concerned. In case of original Pony.fm material, I'd suggest some prior interaction with the artist before someone messes with their tags without their consent.

 

I just hope that there won't be such a rush of change requests that the admins won't get to them.

 

Exactly - "Ska/Rock/Punk" isn't a genre; it's three. This kind of tagging system for the site would make for both a cleaner genre list and more effective searching. Where downloadable files are concerned, some tagging formats happily support multiple genres, too.

Vorbis comments do. Officially, ID3 tags don't, but I've yet to run into problems with multiple genres separated by semicolon. The worst I've seen so far is that only one genre is displayed, no matter whether it's MP3 or FLAC, because the player only supports one genre at a time.

 

Such a tagging system would also allow music to be grouped by distinctions that arise organically; "Avast [X]'s Ass" remixes became some kind of category in their own right and that could be accommodated. Perhaps someone will make hayburger songs a thing and we'd be able to create a tag for that, too. This will be far more adaptable to everything we crazy fans come up with. :P

Those tags will work best for Pony.fm's internal database. I can't see where one would put them in the tags of an audio file. That is, all the Avast stuff could be tagged with Kitsune^2 as the original artist and "Avast Your Ass" as the original title.

 

In case you're interested, I wrote up a more technical description of this style of tagginghere.

I'll have a look at that later.

 

How about if Pony.fm pre-filled what it could from tags in the upload and added support for a whole lot more tags? If you prefer tagging your files offline, this will leave a lot less work for you on Pony.fm.

I'm not sure what that'll look like, but support for more tags is always welcome as long as you manage to adhere to what's possible with ID3 tags and Vorbis comments.

 

ARTIST - There are two ways to support collabs - a freeform "artist" field or building an actual concept of collabs/multiple artists into the site (which, like any other "supported" tag, could then be searchable, written as multiple tags where supported, and used to show the song on every artist's profile).

  • Ideally, I'd like tagging a track with multiple artists to result in it showing up on multiple artists' profiles. Perhaps this is unrealistic?
  • This page describes some of the specific issues involved - I'd appreciate your input on those and an extended conversation on how to go about this.
  • If it's a freeform field, even if separated by semicolons, what will those tags actually end up looking like? Is "Brony5; Ft. PonyFan999" an acceptable multi-artist ARTIST tag, considering "Ft." isn't part of PonyFan999's name?

 

Freeform has the advantage of being more flexible, but that'd be more difficult to integrate with the database, especially working two-way.

 

The third suggestion looks kind of ugly to me. I'd like it to look like how it'd be written on a record cover.

 

Maybe there should be an option to separate the ARTIST field from the database automation. That'd also reduce confusion in case of collabs with bronies who aren't on Pony.fm.

 

GENRE - I explained where I'd like to go with this in my comments on a booru-like tagging system, but that's some ways into the future. In the short term, this might work better as a freeform text field with autocomplete and the ability to add multiple genres.

It's easier with genres than with artists because you simply line then up, no "featuring", no "befriends".

 

DATE - this is the release date, right? Pony.fm asks you for the month, year, and day of a track's release (and assumes the current day if you don't provide it). This data is already stored by the site but if more of it could be written into Vorbis comments, that's a bug.

So that's already been taken care of. Good. It just needs to be transferred to the audio file. Maybe it'd be a good idea to add month and day to Vorbis comments only although I haven't had any problems with full dates in ID3 tags either.

 

COMPOSER - see ARTIST; the same considerations apply.

These could simply be "listed up", too, like genres so that the integration with the database should be easier.

 

 

PERFORMER - I assume Vorbis comment supports multiple of these, too, in which case the same considerations as ARTIST apply.

Rather the same as COMPOSER. That said, I don't know if there's a standard way of tagging performers with their instruments like e.g. soloists in classical music. Maybe my own way is quite non-standard.

 

VERSION - this sounds like it should be a simple, freeform text field that we don't try too hard to structure. I have some ideas for how to pull that off but it may end up more complicated than it's worth.

That'd be as freeform as COMMENT.

 

COMMENT - Pony.fm adds a "Downloaded from Pony.fm" credit here, much like Bandcamp does. But, this field could contain both that credit and an actual comment by the artist, too.

  • The COMMENT field could correspond to the track description - so the track description gets written into the field when you download a file, and the COMMENT field in an uploaded file pre-fills the track description. Do you foresee any issues with this?

 

No problems as far as I can see now.

 

LYRICIST - see ARTIST; the same considerations apply. This would be another form of "link to other fans who were involved with this track" field.

Again, pretty much like COMPOSER.

 

ORIGINALTITLE - this data already exists in Pony.fm for remixes of official show songs. Today I learned there was a tag for it, even if non-standard! :o

  • Remixes of fan-made songs and ponified non-pony songs will make this field and ORIGINALARTIST really interesting but may be unrealistic, and the data could be structured by a human at a later date. This could be an entire separate discussion.

 

Well, ORIGINALTITLE is only necessary if a song has been renamed. Automating that will be a nightmare.

 

DISCNUMBER and DISCTOTAL - this should be part of an enhancement to albums in general, to allow a "disc split" to be inserted between tracks. There's already a GUI in place for reordering tracks in an album and this would be an addition to that.

  • Uploads that come with an ALBUM tag could automatically be grouped into a Pony.fm album and "disc splits" inserted into it automatically if these two tags are present, too.
  • Should DISCNUMBER=1 and DISCTOTAL=1 be present in albums that only have one disc or weren't meant to be split across them to begin with?

 

I'd always fill in DISCNUMBER and DISCTOTAL. 01 respectively if there's only one "disc".

 

REPLAYGAIN and co. - I need to do some reading on these. If ReplayGain data can be reconstructed from the audio file, it probably makes sense to be able to generate these tags server-side for all of Pony.fm's tracks, whether the original uploads come with them or not.

Server-side ReplayGain scans would have the advantage that everything would be scanned the same way with the same settings and played back with roughly the same loudness. Also, that'd take care of everything having ReplayGain tags.

 

 

There is a relatively small number of software developers in the fandom - compared to artists, writers, and musicians -who are capable of building such projects in the first place.

Or even taking one over if the developers step back. See EqBeats.

 

If you're paying out-of-pocket to host a pony site, music can become financially demanding even with relatively little traffic (Poniverse, fortunately, is sustainable in this regard and covers its day-to-day expenses, but this is unusual among fan sites in my experience).

Streaming music or offering it for download will naturally cause a lot of traffic. Have somepony land a big hit on your site, and be it a spotlight on EqD that makes everypony want to listen to it, and the traffic will skyrocket.

 

It's oddly difficult to get the fandom media to acknowledge music sites and the people who build them, and do their part in building public support for these projects, even though art, conventions, music, games, and all kinds of other cool stuff gets shared all the time.

Struck me as well. Everypony knows FiMFiction, for example, but hardly anyone knows our music sites from MLR to Pony.fm.

 

Some artists want to sell their pony music. I'm not opposed, in principle, to allowing music sales through Pony.fm but it's a potential legal minefield and may require an only-sell-original-songs restriction to keep everyone safe. This limits the appeal of pony music sites to some artists.

One of the reasons why many big names only came to Pony.fm through the MLPMA: They offer their pony music for money because they can. (Never mind all the bronies ripping MP3s off their YouTube videos...)

 

Some artists want their pony and non-pony music together in one place but a pony music site is, by definition, not the place for the latter. This limits the appeal of pony music sites to some artists.

That, too. On the one hoof, it doesn't look good for musicians if they present their non-pony music in a pony environment. On the other hoof, bronies might complain about non-pony music popping up on pony sites (much like they complain when a brony musician makes non-pony music in the first place).

 

YouTube, even though it's not a music distribution platform, has a huge number of people actively looking for content there, which can help artists get their music discovered. Ignoring it means missing out on free attention.

  • Side note: half the reason pony fans go looking for pony music on YouTube is because the pony media and the artists they already know send us there. If EqBeats and Pony.fm links and embeds around the ponynet happen more regularly, and we see artists more actively promoting their music on pony sites, this picture will look quite different. Look at Fimfiction for an example of how content creators made a once-brand-new pony site relevant to the rest of us.

 

Well, you can barely get the big names who sell their music on Bandcamp to upload it on a pony site. I mean, nopony would throw their bits at them on Bandcamp if they could download it from Pony.fm for free.

 

But then there are those newcomers who distribute their music via YouTube only. Or maybe, maybe they offer an MP3 download from some filehoster of the kind that can be shut down altogether at any time when the authorities discover that they're used for distributing pirated stuff. The reason why they don't upload their music on pony sites is because they simply don't know that these sites exist. And you're right, this has to change.

 

I, for one — once I'm done with procrastinating, and I find enough time to finally make some music — am going to upload my stuff on Pony.fm only and take the advertisement into my own hooves. I'm registered at a lot of pony forums, and that'll come to fruition. Of course, I'll also address our news sites including EqD.

  • Brohoof 2

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