Managing music

Sunday, January 17th, 2010 | Author:

Today in the series "How to do XYZ with software?":

How to manage music?

Maybe you have a vinyl collection or some cassettes. Maybe you have CDs. Then you're happy, since they can be organised without using a computer. But once you moved your Vinyl/CDs to your computer, to put them on your MP3 player, you need to keep them in order.

Luckily, there are ID3 tags for this purpose. So either you keep your MP3s in some intelligent file system hierarchy with good file-names to use a desktop search engine, or you manage the ID3 tags to be correct and adequate for some ID3 tag search system (like those included in most portable MP3 players like the iPod and desktop tools iTunes, Winamp, Amarok, etc.). I prefer to have at least some structure in my file-system since the ID3 tags are always messy and it would be much work to keep them clean enough. So my folder structure is: music/genre/sub-genre/artist/album/ and, of course, several folders named "unsort1" until "unsort5". To have the right artist name and the right song name in the ID3 tags - and even in the file-name - there are several tools. I've used EasyTag to change every file-name to "artist-name - song-name.mp3" with a batch script, where I took the artist-name and the song-name from the ID3 tags. There is a minor problem involved: the ID3 tags are not always "there", for example when you copy one of your CDs to your computer, the CD-ripper (I prefer Grip on Linux) tries to contact a ID3-tag database (like FreeDB) and sometimes it turns out the music isn't that well-known so there will be no ID3-tag. Sometimes you've got some music from friends, without ID3-tag but with a file-name "artist-name - song-name.mp3". With EasyTag you can use this information to write the ID3 tag, so the song-name will be listed in you favourite MP3 player.

I stopped polishing my music collection with EasyTag, since it was too much work. There is another possibility to get good, correct meta-data: MusicBrainz. This is a community around a software that is able to generate "fingerprints" for music. This means, a MusicBrainz applications "listens" to your music and generates a code which is sent to the community, which then tells you how other people call this piece of music. And it works very well! On Linux, I use the tagging software MusicBrainz Picard, and this is available for Windows and Mac OS X, too.

(comic licensed from Randall Munroe under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License)

When it comes to listening, I prefer Amarok, which is similar to iTunes in functionality, but different. I don't like iTunes but I like Amarok. It's available for Windows and Mac OS X, although not yet officially supported. The Linux version is wonderful. The features include: integration with external players, integration of podcasts, integration of streaming radio, automated CD cover downloading, a, an internal preference-based music recommendation system, links to several on-line MP3 shops (optional) and lots of plug-ins that basically do everything you can imagine about a music player.

(comic licensed from Randall Munroe under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License)

Anyway, enjoy your music more often than you try to "organize" it!

Category: English, Not Mathematics

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