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How do you curate your music library?

Discussion in 'Source Components II' started by Haywood, Oct 21, 2016.

  1. Haywood

    Haywood Well-Known Member Famous

    My music library is really, really big. Most of it is FLAC, but I also have some AAC and some MP3. My wife has a huge collection of Asian pop music in iTunes. I keep all of these things in separate folders and combine them into a single library for the Squeezeboxes and Plex.

    The problem is tagging. I've got tens of thousands of tracks and I cannot find any good tag scrubbers that work with FLAC. TuneUp is fantastic, but only supports AAC and MP3. For the time being, I did a bulk transcode of my entire FLAC library to 320Kbps MP3 in a parallel folder structure. I am thinking about just keeping the FLAC folder as a lossless backup and using the new MP3 folder as my main library, simply because I can fix all of the tagging issues. It is still going to take forever to get through it all.

    What do you guys do to keep your digital music organized?
  2. Flint

    Flint "Do you know who I am?" Superstar

    Well... I ripped all of my music, well, nearly all of it since some was purchased online as MP3 files, using Windows Media Player. It did everything for me. It did all the tagging and cover art and so on for me. Now when I export or transfer to anything, all that metadata content magically moves with it. It also all shows up with the Squeezebox server and on every PC, tablet, phone, and streaming device which is connected to the library via the network share.

    I am sorry, that isn't exactly advice.
  3. JeffMackwood

    JeffMackwood Maxi-Me

    As I've mentioned previously, even though I'm not an iOS user, for purely historic reasons, any music that I have ripped (into MP3) has been using iTunes.

    As we all know, iTunes has issues when it comes to organizing things - especially the way I want: alphabetically by artist / band - then by CD/album (I pretty much never collect single songs). It's not horribly bad but it takes work at the front end with most rips to make sure they get filed properly. (For example, my folder for "The Band" is named "Band, The" - properly alphabetized - but iTunes doesn't see it that way.) I make that change post-rip.

    Another issue I have is that while I want albums kept together, a lot of tracks have "so-and-so featuring who-knows-who" which tends to create new folders of their own. I take the time to change the metadata pre-rip to drop all the "featuring..." which keeps all the tracks in the same folder. It also means having to uncheck the "Part of a compilation" box for each and every track. (True compilations stay that way, and I have a "Compilations" folder where they all reside.)

    About once a year or so I go through the whole thing and pick up on anything I missed. (That's the "compulsive" side of me.) However I have 50,000+ songs in the collection right now, and I've learned it's easier to get it right at rip time than it is to find and correct problems later on.

    Like Flint, with all the metadata in place, it becomes user-friendly (and informative) pretty much regardless of which device it's then played on.

  4. Haywood

    Haywood Well-Known Member Famous

    The problem is the artist/album artist issue, compilation albums, same artist/different name and a variety of other silliness.
  5. Towen7

    Towen7 Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator

    This is not helpful but I don't curate music any more.
    I use streaming services 99% of the time. If I really want to do critical listening (I almost never do) I'll put the CD in the BD player.
  6. Zing

    Zing Retired Admin Famous

    Taking lessons from Trump? :D

    Every CD I purchase (I've topped 1500 now) gets ripped in lossless format on a Windows machine and stored on an external drive. I find Windows Media to do a fine job cataloging things. Every now and then I'll have to tweak something but that's not the norm.

    At this point, I'll start listening to the CD for a couple of days and make some determinations.

    First, are there any immediate "favorites" that I'll want to listen to again and again? If so, the CD gets ripped to mp3 320 in iTunes on my iMac. From there, it's now available on all my devices. And I find iTunes to do an acceptable job of cataloging as well (keep in mind, iTunes on a Mac isn't at all frustrating or problematic like it can be for Windows). If not, I make the next determination.

    Second, is the sound quality demo worthy? If so, the CD stays in the theater's shelving. If not, it gets stored in my office closet upstairs and collects dust.

    I'm not sure if 1500+ albums is a lot or a little to you, Scott, but whether I'm looking for something specific on a mobile device or a computer, I never have any difficulty finding it quickly.
  7. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator Famous

    ^^ if he was copying Trump, he would've said his library was "bigly 'uge"
    Randy likes this.
  8. mcad64

    mcad64 Well-Known Member

    EAC to rip cd's , with accuraterip installed as an addon. Mp3Tag if the tags are eff'uped (it does Flac). Cd gets taken out of jewel case. Jewel case is recycled. CD is placed in a Jazzloft cd sleeve to conserve space and it is added to one of my drawers in my HT unit in the mancave.
  9. JeffMackwood

    JeffMackwood Maxi-Me

    I hear you!

    So there's really two sides to this: how the collection is stored (where are the files?), and how it is presented (how does it appear / look / get used?)

    As mentioned above I deal with this both pre- and post-rip. With pre-rip I take the time to modify the metadata, album-by-album and song-by-song, to avoid a lot of post-rip storage and presentation issues. (I hate when it creates a separate folder for each new "featuring..." song and when I search for something through a GUI and can't find the track I want quickly. Basically everything that's going to break an album into smaller folders / songs.) With post-rip I accept that a lot of bands / artists will have "The" or "A" or something else at the front of their name which will screw up the storage BUT won't mess up the presentation (for example iTunes ignorance "The" when listing by artist) so I don't change the metadata but rather move them post-rip to where they belong. In the case of albums for an artist already in the collection, it means moving them, deleting the folder "remnant", deleting the albums from the iTunes list, and then importing the album folders from their new location. In the case of a new artist, it means simply changing the new artist folder name to what it should be, deleting the songs from the iTunes list, and then importing from the renamed folder. Post-rip I also catch things that cropped album titles - or re-spelled titles because of some characters not being allowed.

    I could go on but the bottom line is that it takes a little effort, but once done it's pretty much exactly as I want it. I'm happy with both the storage and presentation that that effort gives.


    ps. I recently acquired a batch of 100+ used CDs and while time consuming, I'm in the process of adding them to the collection while I do other things - like typing this post. It's pretty much "autopilot" work nowadays.
  10. Flint

    Flint "Do you know who I am?" Superstar

    My biggest complaint with using Windows Media Player for all my curation is that many of the CDs I own are reissues with new tracks added, like demos, live versions, and alternate takes. If I choose to listen to all my Kansas albums while cleaning house, I will be forced to listen to those extra tracks, which I rarely want to listen to. My solution is to create playlists for my favorite albums which only include the original tracks I want to hear, which works with my phone and if I am using WMP, but if I use Squeezebox, Roku or the Amazon Fire TV Stick, it will think the playlist is another album and often it will play each song twice. I hate that.
  11. JeffMackwood

    JeffMackwood Maxi-Me

    And by the by, another important aspect of "curating" is record keeping. While I could rely on iTunes for that, it would be unwieldy and miss much of the collection that has not been ripped (vinyl etc.) Going back even before I started ripping music I created Excel-based databases for both my movie and music collections. Every album gets a line entry (by artist/group and then by year of release), and at the end of the line I note which format it's available in - sometimes multiple. Somewhat the same for my movie collection.
  12. Haywood

    Haywood Well-Known Member Famous

    One of the challenges I am running into is that I originally ripped my stuff to WMAL years ago. Then I converted it to FLAC, along with a differential rip of all the new stuff I did not have in WMAL format. A lot of my discs are quite old and there are many different versions of some of these albums with different tracks on them. This is a particular problem with compilations albums, of which I have many. When you then throw in some relatively obscure stuff, concerts, classical and show tunes, you have a formula for enough oddballs to make tagging really obnoxious.
  13. lulimet

    lulimet Well-Known Member

    It won't help you because you use FLAC but iTunes is really good for tagging if you use MP3, AAC or ALAC.
  14. Haywood

    Haywood Well-Known Member Famous

    I transcoded my FLAC folder to a mirrored MP3 folder and am using TuneUp with Windows Media Player. I don't want to use iTunes, because I hate the physical files structure it imposes. I want things organized by Album Artist > Album > Track, because anything else makes access via things like Logitech Media Server and Plex a complete mess. I want to bitch slap the asshole who thought I would want to take the tracks from a soundtrack and scatter them in a bunch of different artist folders. I want to punch the idiot who thought I would want to take an album and break it up into every combination of track artist and scatter it across the directory structure. Fuck Apple so hard.
  15. JeffMackwood

    JeffMackwood Maxi-Me

    As I've said, I dislike a bunch of things about iTunes, however I don't think this happens in the case of soundtracks. Normally they are tagged as being part of a compilation and a single album folder is created and placed in the compilations folder, and not scattered into different artist folders. I'm talking about where the ripped files actually reside. Of course when you then display iTunes records by artist the individual tracks appear under the various artists' names, however you can always click the sort by album to bring it all together (again for display, not filing, purposes.) Just the other day I ripped the Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me movie soundtrack. I'm looking right now and all of the tracks reside in a single folder in the compilations folder. I'm looking at a listing by "Artist" in iTunes and I see an entry for Madonna's "Beautiful Stranger" and now when I highlight that item and instead sort by album, all 12 album tracks are now shown in the order that they appear on the CD. Much to dislike about how iTunes handles curating, but on this one point I think they got it right. (Only because I'm ok with having a single large compilations folder - for filing purposes. If I'd wanted to refine things further, say with folders for music samples, soundtracks, Xmas albums by a variety of artists, etc. then yes I would have to re-file them post-rip, but regardless, the content of each album would still be in a single file of its own.)
  16. JeffMackwood

    JeffMackwood Maxi-Me

    Here's a good new / bad news "curating" story.

    I recently acquired a huge collection of Nat King Cole CDs. That's the good news.

    Here's the bad news. There are ~60 titles in the collection - many of them box sets. (One box set - The Complete Capital Recordings of The Nat King Cole Trio - contains 18 CDs! There's others with 10 CDs, 4 CDs, 3 CDs, etc.) There are tons of duplication (and probably triplication, quadruplication, etc.) with all the original albums and "greatest hits" and "collections" etc. Rather than trying to avoid duplication of tracks and other such issues, I'm just going to rip the whole shebang and make as few curative corrections as possible (if possible!) as well as recording accurate title etc. info in my Excel database. Even then, this will be many hours of effort.

    The final good news: I'm sampling the really old albums right now and this is really great stuff!


    ps. Ostensibly, this collection contains everything ever released by Nat King Cole. I'd normally try to verify that claim but that could be a daunting challenge. My go-to for artist / album info is Wiki. While there's no way to tell for sure, their Nat King Cole discography looks to be complete (or at least incredibly extensive - including all the compilations etc.) I should be able to cut and paste all of that info into an Excel spreadsheet, wherein I would cut and paste whatever song info I get from iTunes after ripping it all, arrange it into two side-by-side columns alphabetically by title and then see if there's at least one rip of every song shown in Wiki. Just for fun!
  17. JeffMackwood

    JeffMackwood Maxi-Me

    I recently finished "curating" four large classical collections: 40 CD Dvorak, 100 CD Beethoven, 160 CD Bach and 180 CD Mozart.

    If ever there was a genre for which large song / file names is an understatement, classical is it!

    I ended up having to go through it in some cases CD by CD to shorten the names. Even then I was never able to copy them over to my Seagate server. Tried every trick in the book but I kept getting the filepath / file name too long error messages. (For example I can zip their folders and move that over to the Seagate ok, but the same error message pops up during the unzipping for literally hundreds of the files.) I was able to back them up, with editing, to my usual three local hard drives, but not the server - meaning I can't easily access on multiple devices as I can with all of my other music. At ~65 GB (320 kbps MP3) I can dump them onto a stick and plug that into my Blu-ray players if need be, rather than streaming, but it's a pain.

  18. Yesfan70

    Yesfan70 I'm famous now bitches! vvvvv Famous

    I use the tag editor in dB Poweramp. About the only issue I have is it doesn't always find the correct artwork or artwork to my liking and songs like "We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions" it will list the first part of the title as the artist and the last half as the song. Maybe that's because of the "/", but I don't know.
  19. Haywood

    Haywood Well-Known Member Famous

    So I spent many, many hours getting my music into iTunes and cleansing it with TuneUp. I was not able to do the quick TuneUp thing. I had to go in and look at every single album, because the import process screwed a lot of stuff up. I had to delete and re-import a lot of stuff. I am still finding the odd artist or album that got missed entirely, but it should be 99% there now. Everything is deduped and everything is meticulously tagged (except for some of my wife's K-Pop, but that's her problem).

    You would think I was done, but the super cool custom Plex client I am using displays background art for every artist. Plex downloads a lot automatically from last.fm, fanart.tv and home theater backdrops, but there is still a lot missing and there are still crappy looking low-resolution photos. I have been going through the library with a version of my HT Plex client and looking at each individual piece of full-screen art. When I find ugly ones, I replace them. When I find missing ones, I go out and get them. This means hours of scouring Google images looking for decent art. The problem is that most of the photos for a lot of the older bands are not very high resolution and are in the wrong aspect ratio. Thus the scouring. Sometimes I edit the photos to make them fit the aspect ratio. This is obviously a lot of work. I'm picking at it a little at a time and am down to the Es.

    My wife thinks this is a symptom of OCD.
  20. Towen7

    Towen7 Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator

    She ain't the only one. You sure put a lot of work into what is supposed to be enjoyment.

    For the record... None of the album art on Amazon Prime Unlimited has ever been an issue. Just sayin.

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