Chances are, you have more music than you’ll ever listen to: thousands of tracks (all legally obtained, of course) and days of uninterrupted play. By Rogan Louwrens
If that’s the case – and let’s be honest: it is – it’s a sound bet that either your collection is a shambolic morass of horror, or you’re thinking of organising your sock drawer according to the latest detailed taxonomy released by Soccus Quarterly. If you fall into the latter category, this article is not for you. If not, read on for our tips on taming the beast.
1. Kill the clones
Duplicate music files are one of the great curses levelled upon the modern world – but it doesn’t have to be that way. If your collection is beset by a nefarious horde of pretenders, it’s time to download dupeGuru Music Edition. This piece of open-source wizardry uses a tweakable fuzzy algorithm to track down duplicates and lays them bare for the fist of judgement.
2. Set a standard
By the mighty quadriceps of Zeus, it’s a pain to set a playlist rolling only to have to tweak the volume control every track. What you need is a volume normaliser, and they don’t get much better than MP3Gain (mp3gain.sourceforge.net), which uses a sophisticated statistical analysis before applying loss-less volume changes to your precious trove of tunes. The original is Windows only, but dig around and you’ll find ports for other systems.
3. Play tag
Face it: your collection’s metadata is a wreck – full of weird comments, mismatched artist names and creative sorta genres (“witch-pop”, anybody?) – or just plain missing. Here, we must turn to a piece of software called MusicBrainz Picard (musicbrainz.org), whose usefulness is outmatched only by the oddity of its name. Picard sizes up just about any motley bunch of music files and spits out a usually reliable set of tags for them, letting you edit whatever fields you like in the process. Extra hooray: a number of plugins are available to round out this program’s functionality.
4. Cover up
You can’t call your music obsession serious if you have gaps in your album cover-art. Most media players these days can find and embed cover art automagically, but for top-notch results nothing beats good old Google Images (www.google.com/imghp). The standard embedded cover size is a measly 500×500 pixels, but with Google’s search filters it’s possible to find high-res cover snaps that do your music real justice.
5. Lock ’n load
Now that you’ve got your sonics straightened out right, it’s time to get listening. This is easier said than done, though, when you’re facing down a track listing for which the term “behemoth” was expressly invented. The tool you need for this job? The smart playlist. Using a series of finely tuned criteria, you can have your media player pluck just about any combination from the madding crowd: want a 42-item folktronica playlist featuring only tracks you haven’t listened to in the last three weeks? Go on, then.