My house is a mess, I can't remember where I put my sunglasses, but my mp3 collection is close to immaculate. Call it an attempt to bring order to some part of my life. But I've spent years fine-tuning the tags and organization of my mp3s, and I think I have it down to a science. Is your mp3 collection a mess? Do you not know what album a song came from, much less what the name of the song is? Can you not make decent playlists? Here's how to bring sense to your collection.
Step 1: Fill in missing tagsEach mp3 file has metadata associated with it - that is, information about the file. These are called ID3 tags, and they describe each song using such fields as:
- Song name
- Track number
- Song rating
About that Genre Tag...[caption id="attachment_3845" align="alignright" width="250"] My genres. Yours will be different.[/caption] Ah, genres. Everyone has his or her own opinion. One person's definition of rock may be alternative to another. Add to the fact that there are multiple subgenres - surf punk - dream pop, baroque pop, indie rock, post-punk, shoegaze - and you start to realize what a mess this could become. Don't worry too much about the genre tag, unless you want to create playlists of your favorite genre of music. I have 29 different genre tags, and have even made up my own (such as "Pure Pop" - Beatlesque pop that is too mellow for power pop). I've combined country and bluegrass, jazz and vocals, and ambient and electronic because I don't have a lot of that music. But what about R.E.M.? Are they alternative or rock, or adult alternative? Is the Cure goth or post-punk? Again, it depends on your taste in music. Just be sure you consistently tag these and don't let them get away from you - you don't want 60 different genres...or maybe you do...
Rate Your SongsThis advice is not for the faint of heart, but trust me: It's the best thing you can do for your mp3 collection. Go through every song and rate it one to five stars. This may take forever depending on the size of your collection. Some will be easy; for instance, you already know to give the Beatles' "Yesterday" five stars; so go through your collection once and assign a rating to all songs you know. For most songs, though, you're going to have to listen to them to assign a star rating. Here's my criteria:
- Five stars - one of the greatest songs you've ever heard
- Four stars - an outstanding song
- Three stars - I could listen to it again, but I wouldn't recommend it to a friend.
- Two stars - not one of their best songs. Grates on my nerves a little.
- One star - Oh my God. This is awful.
Album ArtIf you really want to get fancy, make sure all of your mp3s have album art associated with it. If you've ripped your own CDs, it should populate this for you already. But if you have bootlegs and rare albums, you may not have any artwork associated with it. Use Google or allmusic.com to find the album art, and simply paste the art into the associated field. It'll look so much cooler when you're playing your music. Coming up next: Organizing compilations, singles and incomplete albums
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