Spotify wants you to fix its bad music data

Spotify announced today the launch of a new tool called Line-In that will allow its 160 million users to offer input about the music data it has on file, like genre, mood, explicitness and more. The goal is to leverage the wisdom of the crowds in correcting and expanding Spotify’s data over time, which could give it a competitive advantage against rival services like Apple or Pandora, for example.

Notes Spotify in its FAQ, by confirming the data describing music, the company will be able to improve the experiences of the users and artists on its service. Users will also benefit from the feature because they’ll be able to learn more about the music than what’s available in the app today, thanks to community participation.

The tool is currently only available to desktop users, and is accessible by clicking on the three dots next to Artist, Album or Song, then choosing “Suggest an Edit.”

Users can offer edits on a variety of data categories, including explicitness, genre, aliases, languages, mood, tags, artist roles and external URLs. However, they won’t be able to correct song or album titles, even if they’re wrong or contain “extra messy information,” Spotify says. Instead, the content partners have to fix this sort of metadata. But the company notes it’s building an interface to gather this feedback as well, so it can be sent “up the chain” to the label or artist to fix.

In addition to correcting erroneous information, Spotify users can also confirm the data already on file is correct.

Beyond contributing data by searching for artists from the Line-In homepage, users can also opt to take quizzes to share their knowledge or track mood or explicitness, while contributing data. The surveys are presented as multiple choice, with “none of the above” as the default selection and an option to skip questions you don’t know. (You don’t know if you get the questions “right” at the end, or how your answers compare to others’.)

The company also is crowdsourcing for information on whether or not an album has been added to the wrong artist’s page, or when albums from different artists have been mixed together on a single page. To fix this, you’ll go to the “Artist Roles” section on the album page, and correct the “main artist” by marking an “X” next to the wrong item, and clicking “Add Credit” to add anyone who’s missing.

Broadly, Line-In will appeal more so to hardcore music fans — particularly fans of a given artist or genre who want to ensure the data is accurate and complete.

The tool itself was publicly announced today, but had been in testing since last fall. Spotify says more features will come to Line-In over time.

Though there are some comparisons to a service like Wikipedia, which also relies on user contributions from editors, Spotify says Line-In is not a wiki, but rather a crowdsourced editing tool. It’s a nuanced difference, perhaps, but it doesn’t appear that a single user’s input would change the metadata on its own.

The launch of the tool comes ahead of Spotify’s IPO, set for April 2nd.