Designing robust lyric and cover art retrievers

One of the very last sessions for the GSoC Mentor Summit was about Media players. There were lead devs from Amarok and XMMS2, and it was cool to speak with them in person. One frequent issue that Amarok (I can’t remember if it was also an issue for XMMS2) was that lyric sites keep going down and changing their format, sometimes adding ads in the middle of the lyrics. Another was that Amazon no longer let’s them use the album cover art, and the substitute of last.fm has very small cover art images.

My suggestion for both, but which would need to be implemented in somewhat different ways, would be to use a variety of lyrics sites, then use text similarity matching to work out what the actual lyrics part of the page was. For images, you could use google image search, and then return the image that was most frequent, as well as having some heuristic for preference of square images. I think that, although not perfect, this would make the the system a lot more robust against further changes.

Text similarity and overlaps is well understood as a computer science problem. It’s used by the shotgun sequencing approach for DNA sequencing… as well as variety of search and indexing problems. Hopefully I’ll release a usable library for it over the summer – I’ll call it libshotgun-lyrics 😉