music


I’ve been struggling with my iTunes library for some time. I have about 500 GB of mp3s, all from various sources and it has gotten out of hand. For the most part I was fine with my sloppy, unorganized library, thinking that one day I would clean it up and it would be easy but it wasn’t needed right now. This really didn’t become apparent till I finally got an ipod controller for my car and while trying to go through my artists, it took forever just to scroll through the “B”‘s . The problem was the following:

for one artist I had multiple entries.

Example:

Ella Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald, Ella
Ella Fitzgerald & the Cotton Club Orchestra
Ella Fitzgerald & her Cotton Club Orchestra
Ella Fitzgerald and the Cotton Club Orchestra
etc. You get the point, not to mention all the misspellings.

After searching and searching for various programs my approach was a three fold fix. I was told that TuneUp was probably the program that I was looking for, but unfortunately it only works for a PC and not a Mac, though a Mac version is forthcoming. I’m a little reticent of the fact that it is a monthly fee based program rather than regular pay and play type one. Until I get to actually play around with it, I have to rely on what is currently available for me.

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iTunes

I first started in iTunes by going through all my artists and manually fixing all the multiple entries. I already decided that I would sacrifice accuracy for condensing some artist names. I also decided that I would have to move guests and featured artists to the song title instead of the artists field, also to consolidate the artists down. This is the most tedious part of the job.

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For the second step I needed a little extra help. Some files had no tag information but had them inherent in the file names. I took a twofold approach. I decided to use Media Rage for this part. CDDB is a great resource IF you have the CD with you. Luckily there is FreeDB which is the CDDB equivalent but has a searchable field to look up albums under artist name and album title. With Media Rage, I was able to look some of these albums up then transfer the id3 tag information to the proper files. Media Rage is also smart in the fact that if I was missing some songs in the album I could pick and choose the right tag information to be transferred over. This worked for the most part, but some compilations had artist as “Various Artists” and had the artist information as part of the song name, i.e “Save A Prayer – Duran Duran” as the song name. For these albums I used an iTunes applescript called Track Parser to correctly move the proper information to where it should be. This is a great script that can also move track number, album year, and any other information granted that they start in a single field and can be parsed out to other ones. Media Rage was also a great way just to see groups of files easily and batch change certain fields. It is lacking a slick interface and can get a little clunky since it is more a collection of miniprograms than a collective whole, so it takes a little getting used to. It doesn’t load from your iTunes library file so you can load what ever files you want, though it if is a lot of files, it takes a while to process.

The final great part of Media Rage is it’s ability to move files to an organized structure of your choosing. I’m not a big fan of how iTunes organizes it’s library. I tend to think in terms of genres instead of one lump sum. I like to organize my music like a record store where it is first split up by genres, then artists, then albums. The only tricky part about this structure are albums that do not necessarily fit into one genre or the other and how specialized a genre you want to create. For my sake I just split it up into Rock (encompassing the bulk of my files), Hip Hop, Dance, Soundtracks, Jazz, International, Reggae. The other tricky genres I picked were Oldies, Vocals, Lounge, and R&B. Vocals tend to be like Frank Sinatra or Bing Crosby, where it is not necessarily Jazz but more Pop. Oldies are also a little on the fuzzy side, but for the most part they encompass non-Jazz, pre 1960’s music. Lounge is reserved for artists like Esquivel, or Moog music. R&B is the most fuzzy, but so far I choose my Funk, Soul, and Blues artist to go there. Media rage will copy, move, or create aliases based on tag information to an organized folder structure. Therefore if I have The Beatles’ Rubber Soul floating on a temporary folder, I could then automatically move them to the Rock>The Beatles> and newly created Rubber Soul subfolder.

Since I have done a proper pass on existing tag information and have added new tag information I now have to take another pass through the Artist field once more.

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My third step is to get album covers for the ones that were missing. I first noticed that a few album covers showed up for every song on the same album in Cover Flow view. This was due to a compilation album not being set as such in iTunes. So step one is to go through all compilations and making sure that they where tagged as such in iTunes. Unfortunately, while you can see if they have the proper tag information in Media Rage, there seems to be a bug where if you try and change it as a batch it actually does not stick change the files, so you need to manually go through each song one by one to mark it as a compilation. The faster way is to see which albums are missing this information then finding them back in iTunes to then changing them as a group there. Very frustrating! Now onto the album covers. After trying out a few programs, such as Amazon Cover widget, Fixtunes, Media Rage, and even iTunes itself, with each having it’s pros and cons, I went with Cover Scout. Media Rage did an okay job, but only looked at Amazon and it’s international sites to find album covers. Others worked only on the song that was currently playing in iTunes. In Cover Scout you can do batch runs to find the proper album covers AND choose to see if it is indeed the correct one or correct size before applying it. The other great thing is that you can also search using google images or any web page for that manner. You can also use your isight camera for a self made cover. One thing to note is that by adding covers to all of my files, my library has gotten bigger in size, though I do not know by how much.

All in all, with media storage being cheaper and cheaper and more people like me having large libraries, there needs to be an all encompassing program for these mundane tasks. TuneUp seems to be the forerunner in the field, and FixTunes also has promise (although buggy and not quite the interface I was looking for). For the time being I will continue to consolidate my library using this method unless anyone has a better way.

UPDATE: 3/17/09

Looks like TuneUp is available for the Mac finally. I’ve tried it out and it found some things, but didn’t find others. 3 annoying things about it is that is it a subscription service, so unless you constantly are getting new music and want to keep it organized, it is hard to justify the on going cost. The 2nd thing is that you must register for the program to work, not a huge gripe, but yet another place for a registration name and password. Finally, there is no launch options. Whenever you have iTunes up, TuneUp also automatically launches and creates a side bar next to your iTunes window. It is highly annoying and I wish that you had to option to turn off automatic launch.

Although I haven’t been aggressively attacking my iTunes library as before, I’m still using the same methods. Although I did hear of a friend using Shazaam on his iPhone to help find songs with absolutely no id tag information. YMMV.

b-boys in old oakland

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I have a backlog of posts that I’m trying to get through but while on vacation it was very hard to motivate to do anything.

I’m back from my vacation (posts to come soon), so here goes.

Old Oakland is buzzing. It’s slowly coming together and there is just something about it that I love. I love the atmosphere, the people, the fact that everyone I know that lives in Oakland is proud of it. It’s always hard to live in the shadow of the more well known city (like Baltimore and D.C.), but it’s that underdog attitude that attracts and binds. It is seldom you will hear any San Franciscan say that they are proud of The Mission, or The Haight, both similar neighborhoods to Old Oakland. It used to be that to have a cosmopolitan night out you had to venture across the Bay Bridge, but with great restaurants like Tamarindo, B, and Levende East, and great bars like The Trappist, you don’t have to venture far.

Just the other day there was an art opening for a show at FiveTen Gallery. They had blocked at street to celebrate with b-boys strutting their stuff on the side walk. With all the hype about the crime in Oakland, it’s great to see just people enjoying themselves out at night.

This is totally up my alley and inspires me to start digitizing my own collection.

Some guy has and is digitizing his 78 rpm collection and putting all the mp3’s online, over 3700 titles. Great collection of songs that you can only find on 78’s. He also has a collection of Arabic, Japanese, and Greek records too.

check it out.

http://78records.cdbpdx.com/

There is something great yet now nostalgically creepy about this performance. I wonder if the term “furry” existed in the 70’s.

posted on PinkTentacle.

Based on several iPhone apps for a jailbroken phone. Check out the original link here with additional links to the apps here.

Happy Lunar New Year!

To celebrate I’ve been enjoying a new music search site that scours for music, but keeps them on the site so you are not downloading songs illegally, but you can create your own playlists and share them with friends. It’s called seeqpod. It works for both audio and video.

Check it out.

After listening to the backlog of podcasts from the Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour, I came across my new favorite country band, although they technically more Western Swing. Think about the old days of Gene Autry, of the yesteryears of Bob Wills, the Texas Doughboys, and Al Dexter. The Time Jumpers keeps it real, with veteran players that have the musical chops to back up both their country and western, with a swinging beat, man.

I’m sad to hear that my favorite member has passed away. The legendary John Hughey was a virtuoso in the pedal steel guitar. There is something about that sound that just clicks and makes you feel happy and want to kick up your heels.

Check out this clip taken from their DVD which you can purchase here. I plan to. It is a beautiful ballad that has been nominated for a Grammy.


Taking a classic standard “All of Me” and adding that Western touch. There is also is something about jazz accordions, too!

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