Tag Archives: Feature

New Feature: Searching for only the songs that someone has voted for

Arne pointed out the other day that it would be useful to be able to build a playlist for just the songs that he had voted for dancing Cha Cha. I scratched my head a bit because I thought this was already possible. I even added a feature last year to make it easier to see who has voted on dance styles for songs so that you could look for other songs that a user voted on.

I should have noticed that you can search for a dance and that someone has tagged it in some way. But you can’t specify that someone has voted for a particular dance. They might have voted against the dance or just tagged the song with another kind of tag, and someone else voted for the song, so it still shows up in the search.

This wasn’t too bad when the catalog was relatively small and when you’re just looking at search results to find ideas for songs to dance to. 

However, things have gotten worse over time for a couple of reasons.

In Arne’s case, he wanted to export a playlist to Spotify of songs that he explicitly voted for Cha Cha. Using advanced search, he can choose Cha Cha then search “By User” and “Include all songs arne has tagged.” This search resulted in 50 songs, only 26 of which he had voted for Cha Cha. On that list were songs that he had explicitly voted against and a number that he had just voted for other dances.

The new feature is to add an option to the “By User” section of advanced search to “Include all songs [user] has voted for [dance].” In this case, choosing “Include all songs arne has voted for Cha Cha” yields the correct 26 songs he voted for.

The other case this feature solves is that as the catalog grows, there is more variety in how people vote on songs, so there is more noise. For instance, searching for the songs that DWTS (Dancing With the Stars) has tagged that someone has also voted for Cha Cha results in 305 songs, while searching specifically for the songs that DWTS has voted for Cha Cha results in only 130 songs.

Thanks, Arne, for pointing this out and helping to make music4dance more useful for everyone.

As always, I’m very interested in your feedback, so please share any thoughts and ideas about this post or the site by commenting below or using other feedback mechanisms listed here. In addition, if you enjoy the site or the blog (or both), please consider contributing in whatever way makes sense for you.

P.S. The DWTS list is a list I maintain, and any mistakes in are mine. I use a semi-automated method of scraping the published information about the dances each week to populate the information in muic4dance. DWTS, in particular, is challenging because the music they dance to is generally covers performed by their house bands, so they don’t always match the tempo of the available recordings. Please let me know about any mistakes you see.

New Feature: Filter by Song Length

If you’re trying to get a playlist together for a social dance, it would be nice for the songs to be a reasonable length for your audience. 

I realize that DJ tools will let you manage this in multiple ways, but sometimes it’s just easier to start with songs in the length range you’d like. There are probably other good reasons to be able to filter on the duration of a song; let me know if you think of any.

Again at Arne’s prompting, I implemented the ability to filter on song length using the advanced search page. My quick and dirty implementation is to filter on a range of seconds. This implementation will let you do things like get all the Salsa songs in the catalog between 90 and 180 seconds between 150-180 beats per minute. Or any other variations that you come up with.

I already store the duration values for songs, so this wasn’t a heavy lift. But I did take some shortcuts to get this feature out quickly. I’d prefer a slicker control to choose the length, and it would be awfully nice if when you searched or sorted on the length that the length showed up in the results. Neither of these would be particularly hard to do. Still, I’d like to hear if others are using this feature and how they’re using it before I invest more into it.

As always, I’m very interested in your feedback, so please share any thoughts and ideas you have about this post or the site by commenting below or using other feedback mechanisms listed here. In addition, if you enjoy the site or the blog (or both), please consider contributing in whatever way that makes sense for you.

New Feature: General Search

I’ve finally added a feature that should really be a part of any good website. A general search of the entire site is available by typing one or more keywords in the search box in the upper right and clicking search. Try it out, and let me know what you think.

As I continue to improve music4dance, I find myself torn between making things easier for new or casual members of the site and deeper features that may only be used by more dedicated members. I tend to lean towards the latter because they are often the features that I use or the features based on feedback from members who have been using the site a lot. But I would love to get more people involved, which means making the initial experience as seamless as possible.

Search is pretty much the core feature of this site. The idea is, after all, to try to help partner dancers find music that inspires them to dance. I’ve invested a lot in the search engine that lets you search for songs and made a big push to make the core search work better. But in the meantime, I’ve written many blogs posts, some help pages, and added other content to the site that isn’t directly embedded in the song catalog.

So how do you search for any of the other information? And for that matter, if you’re a first-time user of the site, shouldn’t you be able to search the whole site easily without clicking through to a search page from the home page?

Some technical issues made this a bit more challenging than it would appear. Not the least of which is that the blog and help system are actually an entirely different site using a different technology that I have less control over. But after going down a few different paths, I think I’ve got something that I’m happy with. It could still use some work, and a couple of things about it feel a little kludgy. But I feel like it’s a significant improvement, especially for a first-time user. It also enables a full-text search of the core site, which will let me invest more in content that isn’t directly part of the song catalog. I’ve got a bunch of things I’ve been thinking about along those lines that I haven’t implemented because I was worried they’d be buried without a generalized search.

So as I mentioned at the beginning of this post. You should be able to just type a keyword or two into the search control in the header (or under the hamburger menu if you’re on a smaller device), and you’ll be taken to a search results page. That page is a little more complicated than I’d like but hopefully pretty effective.

As always, I’m very interested in your feedback, so please share any thoughts and ideas you have about this post or the site by commenting below or using other feedback mechanisms listed here. In addition, if you enjoy the site or the blog (or both), please consider contributing in whatever way that makes sense for you.

New Feature: Searching for a song from Spotify or iTunes

A new member of the music4dance community, Arne, pointed out that he expected to be able to search by Spotify Id. Furthermore, he figured out how to do that by going to the Add Song by Id and dragging the song from Spotify into the edit field on that page.

This is a case of programmer myopia on my part. I wrote all of the code to look up a song in the Spotify and iTunes catalog with the idea of (a) being able to link back to those catalogs and then (b) to make it easier to add songs to the music4dance catalog. I didn’t really think that someone would want to look for a song they were playing in Spotify or Apple Music in the music4dance catalog. Actually – I did, but the way I was thinking about that was a much bigger feature that I may never get around to implementing.

What clicked in my slow programmer brain when I saw Arne’s question was that I had most of the code for a really cool feature but hadn’t seen the opportunity to implement it since I had this much more grandiose feature in my head. After the obligatory forehead slap and exclamation of “Duh!” I set about seeing how easy it would be to use what I had already written to implement a reasonably smooth version of what our Arne was doing.

It was definitely straightforward – a bit of refactoring and a few dozen lines of new code, and I’ve got something that I think is pretty slick. But I’ll let you judge:

When listening to a song in Spotify or  Apple Music, drag the song from the player and drop it into the text box on the top of either the Song Library page or the Advanced Search page. If the song is in the music4dance catalog, we’ll take you directly to the song page and show you what others have voted on to dance to that song. If it’s not already in the library, we’ll give you the option to add the song yourself.

As always, I’m very interested in your feedback. As should be obvious from this post, your feedback is essential to making music4dance better. In addition, I read every piece of feedback that comes through and respond to as much as I can. So please share any thoughts and ideas you have about this post or the site by commenting below or using other feedback mechanisms listed here. In addition, if you enjoy the site or the blog (or both), please consider contributing in whatever way that makes sense for you.

Valentine’s Day Edition: Love Songs that We Love to Dance to

I’ve been making an effort to tag songs and write sophisticated searches to find good songs for holiday dances. The music4dance catalog is set up for this kind of search. Not only that, but I’ve always really enjoyed doing exhibition pieces for holiday parties.

I started with the Christmas/Winter holidays and added Halloween more recently. I hadn’t really thought about Valentine’s Day. But when I did (a little late for this year, but never too early to be planning for next year), I realized that I already had something pretty useful: What better place to look for love songs than a wedding music catalog. Which, coincidently, I’ve spent some time building up.

So if you’re looking for love songs to dance to, check out the Wedding Dance page and let me know what you think. This time of year, there are plenty of generic lists of Love Songs, so if I get some feedback that you’d like a more general list of danceable love songs, I can do some cross-indexing with one or more of those lists. And of course, you can always start adding songs and/or tagging existing songs with a “Love Song” tag and create your own lists.

As always, I’m very interested in your feedback, so please share any thoughts and ideas you have about this post or the site by commenting below or using other feedback mechanisms listed here. In addition, if you enjoy the site or the blog (or both), please consider contributing in whatever way that makes sense for you.

New Feature: More ways to see what’s going on at music4dance

One of my goals for music4dance is to build a system that people can use to share their knowledge of partner dance music with others.  I probably spent too much time early on in this project building bots and scrapers to seed the catalog with content and neglected the community aspect of the site.  So I am now trying to focus on more community-building features.  This includes everything from simplifying the system so that it’s easier to add new styles of dance to making it easier for members to add new songs to making it possible for members to see who else likes to dance to a song.

Following on to the feature where I added the ability to see the voting history on a song on the details page, I’ve added a couple of small feature-lets.

Now,  when you filter music on a user you will see a column  with that user’s changes:

If you know a user’s username, you can filter by a user in the advanced search page by typing the username and choosing what you want to filter on (likes, tags, etc.).  Or you can go down the path described in a previous post and click on a username anywhere that one shows up.  That will take you to a page that will let you filter on all the songs that the user has tagged or all the songs that that user has added to favorites among other things. Eventually, I’d like to have that page contain additional user profile information.

The other fun thing you can do is on the new music page.  The song list on that page has a similar column to the one above that shows latest change to each song and who made it.  That’s a way to find users that are actively adding songs and seeing what they’re up to.

And finally, when you’re exploring these features if you find a search that you want to share with others, you can just copy the URL and send it to a friend. That’s what I do with links back to the music4dance site with these blogs – so it’s not a new feature, but it is becoming more useful with the other community features that I’m building.

As always, I welcome feedback on not just the feature, but the site in general.  And if you find the site useful, please consider contributing in any way that you can.

Who else likes to dance to this song (and what do they dance to it)?

As I browse the music4dance catalog and find a song I like, it’s nice to be able to see who added it and use that as a way to find other songs that I might like.  To this end, I’ve added a new section to the song details page called Changes that lists the changes people (and the bots/scrapers that I’ve written) have made to the song.

For instance, I like dancing East Coast Swing to Demi Lovato‘s Confident.  If I look that up in the music4dance catalog (I can just search for that on the catalog page) – I can go to the song details by clicking on the title of the song and then look for the new Changes section in the lower right.

This shows me that ZacharyPachol, BatesBallooom and JonathanWolfgram have all voted for this song to be danced as an East Coast Swing.  So I can, for instance, click on ZacharyPachol and get to a list of all songs that he has voted on.  I can then click on “Change Search” to filter the list down to East Coast Swing songs that ZacharyPachol has voted on.  Or I can just click on any East Coast Swing tag in the original search and choose to filter the list that way.

Even as I write this, I see that there are several ways I might want to improve this feature.  But I have a limited amount of time and so many ideas, so please let me know if you find the feature useful and if you would like improvements. Also, I’m very interested in getting more direct participation in rating songs (the site is currently built much more on automation than direct user participation) – so let me know what would make rating songs interesting to you.

P.S. There are about ten other things I’d like to say about this, but I’m trying to keep this short so I can get out more posts.  But I can’t resist noting that you can also see that this song was used on Dancing with the Stars to dance Paso Doble and Ballroom Tango – a good example of how one can use a song for a performance piece that you might not want to dance (that dance style to) socially.

Create a Spotify Playlist

One of my initial goals with music4dance was to be able to create playlists to dance to.  I can finally say that I’ve got this working in a way that is close to my original vision at least for Spotify.

The idea is, for instance, that I’d like to build a playlist of Foxtrot songs that are on the faster end of the spectrum (say 132-136bpm) and further limit the list to songs that are in the pop genre.  I’ve had the system in place for a long time to generate search results for a list like this from the advanced search page

The new and exciting thing is that when you get the results of this search, there is a button at the bottom labeled “Create Spotify Playlist.” Clicking on that button will bring you to a page where you can name the playlist and choose the number of songs from the search results to include.  More help on this feature is available here.

Creating a custom playlist is a premium feature.  But you can take advantage of all of the standard playlists by checking out the music4dance profile on Spotify.

As always, I welcome feedback both on this post and the site in general.  I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to the site in any of the many possible ways.  And if you enjoy the site please consider contributing in any way that makes sense to you.

Farewell to the “Sign in with Microsoft” option on music4dance

Microsoft has moved to a new sign-in protocol and our current system for signing in with a Microsoft account started failing.  I looked into switching over to the new protocol and it seems like a few hours of work.  But given that I only have a few hours a week to devote to music4dance that’s really a week’s worth of work.  Since I have very few customers that use this login method and the main reason for supporting this method was for Xbox Music AKA Groove Music integration which has already been deprecated, I’ve notified those individuals with a work-around and am turning off this feature.

If you believe that this is an indispensable feature, please provide feedback and I’ll consider re-implementing it.  If you have issues logging in with any other method please file a bug and I will do my best to address it.

Check out our new Bonus Content Feature

As of this writing the publicly visible music4dance catalog contains just over twenty seven thousand songs.  But the underlying index contains well over forty six thousand songs.  So what’s the deal with the missing twenty thousand songs?  These are song listings that I’ve pulled in one way or another but aren’t complete in some way.

  1. All of the songs must have been matched to an entry in one of the publisher catalogs that we search.
  2. Each song must have been tagged with at least one dance style.

I believe that these are perfectly reasonable constraints and help to reduce confusion for a novice user. However, there is a whole lot of information indexed in our catalog that people aren’t seeing and could be of some use.

One of the things that people often do on the site is to search for ideas for songs to dance to.  They will search for an artist name or a fragment of the title of a song and see what comes up.  This works great, but of course, the more songs that can be searched the more likely that you’ll get a useful idea.  The songs that are in the bonus section have had less scrutiny, many of them probably have small typos or other inaccuracies in the title or artist that prevented them from being matched to a publisher’s catalog.  Or they might be obscure songs that just aren’t as easily available on Spotify or Amazon.  In either case, I think getting to these additional songs is useful to the expert user sleuthing for the interesting or obscure song to choreograph to or surprise their dancers with.

Another case is where someone is looking for a song of a particular tempo but doesn’t necessarily need it to be specifically for one of the dance styles that we currently catalog.  This might be because they’re looking for something to dance to in a different style that might have a specific  tempo requirement but doesn’t necessarily have some of the other requirements for partner dancing.  One case that comes to mind is tap dance music, but I’m sure there are others.  One could potentially use this for finding running or exercise music of a specific tempo.

If you’re interested in exploring this, here’s how:

As always, I’m interested in your feedback. Please let me know if this feature seems useful to you. Or even better, let me know how you use this feature so that I can add that to common use cases and blog about it in the future.