Organizing your music collection sure has changed

posted by Jeff | Sunday, October 25, 2020, 4:14 PM | comments: 0

I spent nearly four hours trying to "clean up" my music collection. When it lived in Amazon's cloud, they did all kinds of things to "organize" songs, which is to say that they would modify the tags in the files I uploaded, or sometimes attempt to match them with copies of songs they already had, so as not to store duplicates. I "lost" the version of Death In Vegas' "Girls," for example, that was in the movie Lost In Translation, which I prefer to what I have now.

But the carnage was even more weird than that. The biggest problem was that some songs in an album would have their "album artist" tag empty, and others wouldn't, so many algorithms, including that of my player, recognize them as two separate albums. Google Music did this too, but I mostly fixed them in the service itself, not with the files I had at home. There were other problems where it didn't group soundtracks in particular in a consistent manner, with half the tracks attributed to individual artists or singers in the album artist field, instead of the conventional "various artists." Then you have things where one album is from Matt and Kim, and the next is from Matt & Kim. Or 30 Seconds To Mars and Thirty Seconds To Mars. Even more weird is the instances where they would leave off a disc number, which on most songs is just a 1 (a double album would have 1 or 2). Again, because of ordering, disc 0 track 12 will come before disc 1 track 1, making for messed up ordering. Some double albums even had a different album title, so Jesus Christ Superstar Broadway Cast Recording or Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness would be listed as two separate entries. Or worse, the latter had varying capitalization in the title, so there were four album groupings for that one. It was a mess.

iTunes back in the day was frankly just as bad, only it messed with your music on your local computer. Apple did a lot of things right to bring digitally distributed music into the world legally, but they destroyed a lot of trust when you bought the music from them, then when they lifted the DRM, asked you for more money to unlock what you already paid for. I still have a few albums sitting in folders somewhere that I can't listen to.

I know much of the world has moved on to streaming services, but none of them have everything that I want, or the obscure things or the B-sides or the bootlegs and rarities that one collects. I'm also tired of rebuilding all of my playlists every few years. With my own service, I don't have to do that anymore. We've also had a couple of weak years for music in a row, and even the songs I've bought total far less than what I would spend on a subscription service. I pay $7 per month already for SiriusXM to enjoy a curated experience, and that's enough.

Now that my OCD has largely been placated, the order brings me peace. I don't need a music service because I built one.


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