About the Songfight Coverbot

Songfight is a venerable website that takes a quick-moving, competitive approach to songwriting. A song title is posted, and participants have seven to ten days to create a new song with that title. Anyone can submit a song. After the deadline has passed, the submissions are posted for people to listen to and vote on. And again, anyone can vote.

The songfight website also allows people to submit "cover art", small images to accompany the current song title. These are not voted on: when it's time to post the submissions, the songfight webmasters simply select the image that they like best.

A typical fight will see no more than two or three cover art submissions. Sometimes, however, there are no cover art submissions, and then the songfight webmasters will badger the community to remedy this. Until something usable is provided, none of the musical submissions can be posted. That's a potentially annoying situation for everyone involved, and so I came up with the idea of remedying it with a simple Python script that would automatically create cover art for songfight titles, and semi-automatically submit them.

How does it work? Every few hours it examines the songfight home page, and if it sees that a new fight has been posted, it grabs the fight title and submits it to Google's image search engine. It then takes the top ten results, crops the images to make them square, slaps the title across the top, and saves them out to a set of files, along with a web page so that the created images can be viewed. The web page comes with submission buttons that let the reader submit one of the created images as a cover for the current fight.

The initial version of my program produced a single image and submitted it automatically, without any human involvement. Though convenient for me, this approach tended to produce pretty low-quality covers, and I felt had the potential to annoy the songfight webmasters. Allowing human judgement to be exercised before the actual submission not only increases the quality of the cover submitted, but it also allows the program to submit nothing at all when perfectly good covers by human beings have been submitted.

The program attempts to only use images that are not copyrighted and are legally available for reuse with modification. Of course, this is only as reliable as Google's filters are. My experience so far suggests that they are surprisingly good, but I have no insight into how this is done and so I can make no guarantees. (The program also generates one cover with a purely abstract background, just in case all other covers are unusuable for some reason.)

If you own something that you feel my program has used illegally, or if you are having any other problems with the coverbot, please feel free to contact me (breadbox) at this domain.

Note that only one image can be submitted for a given fight. So, if you're looking at the page and it has more than one image you want to submit, choose wisely.

See the Songfight Coverbot's current selection of covers. »