If you’ve been paying any attention to me on Twitter
, you may have noticed a couple of things. 1: I’m going to grad school so I can be an archivist. 2: I’ve been talking up how I want to do some major cataloging of my digital music library. I’ve always wanted to do a super amazing hardcore tagging system for all my mp3s, but I never got around to it because it would be extremely taxing. But when I took a cataloging class, I got so fucking pumped to actually start working on my own collection that I finally decided to actually put some thought into it and figure out exactly what I wanted to do.
Why am I so excited about cataloging my digital library? The ENDLESS fucking possibilities. I can sort & display & tweak everything about how I view & access my collection in ways that are completely impossible with physical records. If I feel like spending all day today in the 70s, then tomorrow I want to know which Music Ruins Lives releases I’m missing, and yesterday my pal was scoping out my minimal drone, this is easy as hell digitally. But only if my collection is tagged with the proper metadata.
I have never tolerated poorly tagged mp3s. Everything in my library from the moment it gets imported needs to have at the VERY least the artist, album, and song fields filled. If it’s in all caps, I change it. If the song titles have track numbers, I get rid of them (and make sure the “Track Number” fields are filled). I normalize the artist to match the way it’s represented in my library (add or remove “The,” etc). I get rid of any wonky punctuation or excessive description in those fields. I was less strict about making sure there was the year, genre, artwork, etc, but you get the idea.
I use iTunes. Since I switched to Mac all those years ago, I’ve always used iTunes. Yeah, it’s got its downsides and it has irreparably fucked me over on multiple occasions but it’s still the best at combining what I want out of a digital music player and a library management system into one application. And although it generally gets better over time, it’s not there yet. I dream of the day when Apple decides iTunes doesn’t need to be a massive amalgamation of media management and can be strictly for music (as opposed to music, movies, books, games, whatever the fuck else they decide to include in iTunes 11).
But just because I currently use iTunes, I know that the application won’t last forever (nor will my mp3s). So I make every attempt to utilize the mp3 fields that iTunes recognizes and none that other applications don’t. For example, ratings are an obvious one. I’ve never used the ratings system in iTunes, partially because I have no interest in it, but also because that rating data isn’t stored in the mp3 file. It’s iTunes specific data and that makes it non-transferrable. And there are ID3 tags that iTunes doesn’t give a shit about, like the “Publisher” field. That would be pretty fucking great to use for identifying the record label, but iTunes is pretty selective with which tags it supports.
So the purpose of this article is to explain what I’m doing & why I’m doing it in the hopes that you can glean something relevant to your interests. I don’t expect all of my decisions to apply to everyone (or anyone) because what I’m doing is for me. It’s how I want to manage my digital collection and I’ll be doing what works best for me. I just hope that maybe you’ll be inspired to do the same with your collection and I can give you some ideas how to go about it.
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