I’m listening to John Coltrane’s extraordinary 1958 album Blue Train. I’ve heard this album many times, and it’s one of those great jazz albums from the time when jazz was great.
There’s a great pianist on this record; I can’t remember who it is. I could search Google; I’m sure Wikipedia has a page about this album. (Here.) But I shouldn’t have to. I should be able to find this out when I’m listening to the music in iTunes, or on my iPhone. I might want to know the names of the musicians (it’s Kenny Drew on piano), who wrote the songs (all but one are by Coltrane himself), and more. Since release dates are often incorrect – they often list the record’s last release, not the original date – I might want to know that as well.
Tell me who produced it, who the other sidemen are, and all the other information about the disc that I would get if I had the CD. Because CDs come with liner notes; streaming services don’t.
There is one streaming company that claims to offer liner notes: Qobuz. I subscribed to Qobuz for a year when I lived in France; around 2012 or so. They had some liner notes, and I don’t know how many they have now. (They say “millions of digital booklets.”)
But this metadata should be available for every album. Yes, it’s up to the record labels to provide it, and I’m sure there are some labels who would be happy to do this, to make their recordings more attractive. Apple put a lot of time and money into their Mastered for iTunes, which is mostly ignored these days. If they had invested in liner notes, I think a lot of listeners would be happy. (Though this is still a small percentage.)