A call for smart parsing of concert information on the world wide web

Since I am maintaining the website of a concert venue in Geneva, I am often confronted with the matter of submitting concert dates into social web platforms: last.fm, Facebook, Upcoming, Songkick (and tons of others)… not to speak about local listings such as mx3.ch or ladecadanse.ch.

The idea of entering concert info into all those systems is compelling, since everybody wants to reach as many people as possible… but unfortunately, doing this manually proves to be a time-consuming and repetitive task. For an organization that runs on a tiny budget and invests all energy into setting up gigs, and focuses promotional efforts on the local media (newspapers, radio), nobody has spare time for this.

Looking at it from the perspective of a web-developer, what strikes me when studying the API information of those music-oriented web-2.0 services: many of them allow you to extract concert information (see some example of third-party usage here), but none of them provides an automated way of entering/submitting concert information (or at least, I could find no public information about this).

What we need, in this day and age, is some intelligent concert data markup language, that would allow websites/apps to parse the web for well-formatted concert information. Nothing very complex actually: it would be very similar to the microformats.org hCalendar specification, that some major services (including Google) have already implemented.

Today I took some action, and posted this suggestion on Songkick’s customer feedback area: Automagic parsing of concert info via Microformats or OpenGraph

I’m very curious to see what response I will get from the Songkick staff. It just seems so obvious hat somebody must bring up a solution for this (and establish a new standard while doing so).

Updates (November 3 2011):

  • Sabrina Leandro from Songkick responded to my post, directing me to the Songkick API Google group.
  • I came across an interesting Master’s paper by Michael J. Graves, University of North Carolina: “Concert event metadata: describing concerts effectively in a digital environment” (2003)
    It compares the use of iCalendar, SKiCal (an iCal extension proposal that was rejected), and RSS 1.0 for conveying concert metadata. Most importantly, it produces an empirical “concert ontology”, a list of core sets of data found in flyers and newspaper concert listings, and attempts to translate it into HTML/XML.