Recommended Website – CastAlbums.org

CastAlbums.org website

I recently discovered a fantastic website, and wanted to share it with you. If you love musical theatre, then this really is an invaluable resource.

As the name suggests, CastAlbums.org is a searchable database of audio and video recordings, but it really is so much more than that. It combines aspects of an online shop, database and community – just think of a musical theatre-themed combination of amazon, imdb and myspace.

 The thing that struck me initially was the sheer volume of data included – the database already includes more than 3000 shows, 30,000 songs, and close to 50,000 people. It includes both official cast recordings and non-commercial recordings like demos and live recordings. Perhaps most importantly, I really trust the data as it has been built up by people who know and care about musical theatre – the site’s ‘users’, which currently number ~1700.

 A huge amount of data is captured for each recording, meaning that you can search by almost anything – I was particularly impressed by the ability to search by orchestrator and conductor, as well as the more obvious criteria like composer and performer. I was somewhat surprised by the fact that 115 recordings include orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick!

When it’s a commonly-available CD, you’ll find a link to online shops that stock in (often amazon), but in many cases the recordings are just too obscure (I discovered that a Brazilian cast recording of Company exists, but I can’t buy it from amazon!). This is where the power of the community kicks in – I can see that there are 56 collectors who already own this CD, and I can get in touch with them and make them an offer for the CD.  Some users make it clear that they are willing to trade and as soon as I register on the site, I can contact them.

The final thing that I love about this website is the ability to find information. If there’s a composer you love, or an artist you think is fantastic, you can find all the recordings that include their songs.

As you might know if you have read my blog previously, I am a huge fan of Lauren Kennedy and saw her concert at the Menier Chocolate Factory a week ago. I have her 2 solo albums (‘Songs of Jason Robert Brown’ and ‘Here and Now’), but have just discovered from CastAlbums.org that she has also appeared on 5 official soundtracks (including Sunset Boulevard and Dracula) and Georgia Stitt’s recent album. Impressive with just one click!

I think that this will probably prove most useful when searching for composers, particularly those whose music has been recorded by multiple artists. I guess it’s no surprise that a search for Stephen Sondheim displays huge numbers of results, including many recordings by people I haven’t even heard of!

If I had one wish for this site, it would be to integrate some ability to share sound clips (like last.fm or myspace) – allowing people to upload sound clips could turn this into THE destination for musical theatre fans.

Even without that though, this is a hugely powerful resource. If you haven’t discovered CastAlbums.org yet, it’s time you did!

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