MP3 Management Wishlist

iPodI have about 74 gigabytes of MP3s and two iPods. I’d like to find software that can manage my MP3s without much hassle; if you know of something that has these features, please tell me. If you write MP3 management software, please include these features.

I’m more particular about my MP3s than most people, but I think everyone can relate. You get MP3s from somewhere and they’re tagged and named like shit. The artist and song name is in there somewhere, but not consistently, and probably not spelled right. ID3v1 or ID3v2 is a crapshoot, and good luck getting consistent data for all songs in an album. And then there’s all the random crap in the comments field, including iTunes’s EQ codes.

So, here’s my wishlist. I’m using about a half-dozen programs at the moment, so I’d like to do everything in one.

  • Completely delete any tag or group of tags
  • Batch edit tags
  • Batch rename
  • Write valid ID3v2.4
  • Monitor folders for new, updated, renamed, and removed files
  • Toggle display of MP3s in certain folders
  • Rate songs on a fine (at least 10-point) scale for the following:
    1. The song in general
    2. This version
    3. Recording quality
  • Collapse ratings into Apple’s 5-star (with halves) scale
  • Interface cleanly with iTunes or iPod
  • Don’t edit or move files without permission
  • Export all information for switching computers
  • Read and parse playlists intelligently and dynamically
  • Sync well with differently-sized iPods
  • Deal with or cleanly ignore purchased files, like from Audible.com
  • Detect duplicate songs, regardless of bitrate
  • Search collection by any field, including date added
  • Clean, intuitive interface (at least, better than most MP3 software)

Currently, I sort my MP3s into a few different folders. Main has all my MP3s that I know I like and wouldn’t mind listening to at any particular time, sorted into artist folders. If I’m in a random mood, I can just drop this folder into Winamp, and it forms the bulk of my iPods’ content. I have another folder for MP3s that I don’t like that much, but have been ripped from my CDs, so they’re from artists I like, and I might someday realize I like the song (this has happened). I have additional folders for specialized genre music, like Classical and Comedy, that I don’t want to mix with other songs.

Then I have a whole Unsorted area, which is where a lot of my management problems come from. There are completely unsorted songs, Dirty, with random titles and tags, incomplete albums and duplicated files. I try to keep those, at least, thrown into approximate artist folders. Once I’ve gone through my sorting and cleaning process, I can put MP3s into the Clean folder, from whence I can decide if I like them enough to drop into Main.

My cleaning process has a couple steps and a couple staging folders. Once I have a few songs I want to sort, I use MP3 Tag Tools to clean up the tags and filenames. It lists a folder of MP3s in spreadsheet format and allows you to edit most tags individually or in arbitrary batches (e.g. set the same album name in all but two). It also renames based on tags, including moving to subdirectories. There are a few interface quirks, and it works better in Windows XP than in 2000, but it’s a real workhorse. One thing it can’t do well is remove malformed comments, so that’s where I use MP3/Tag Studio. It’s uglier than sin, but it can do some cool things, like completely strip any unwanted tags from a batch of MP3s. I use it to strip comments and other unneeded ID3v2 tags, along with all ID3v1 tags.

For ripping CDs, I was using a custom Perl script to glue a couple of Linux tools together. It can rip a disc, and then check online for information to populate the tags and fall back to hand entry when needed. It wasn’t a bad system, but I don’t have a Linux box anymore.

I’ve used EphPod to connect to my iPods, but it just doesn’t keep up with the hardware updates. I’ve tried Anapod Explorer, but it’s not perfect either. Winamp was unable to put music on my iPods. And iTunes wants too much control over my files.

One Response to “MP3 Management Wishlist”

  1. J Cubed Says:

    I got MediaMonkey Gold and haven’t looked back.

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