Managing Your Music

January 19, 2009

Managing Your Music

 

These days, many people have their music on their computer. Whether you ripped your music from your CD’s, or downloaded them over the internet, some people have quite a lot of music on their computer. This is a huge topic that is too big to cover in depth in this newsletter, but I am going to touch on some important information about it.

 
Although there are many different formats music can be stored in, most people’s music is stored in one of 3 formats, WMA, MP3, and M4P.
 
WMA is the format used by Windows Media Player which comes with Windows.
M4P is the format you get if you purchased and downloaded your music from Itunes.
MP3 is probably the most common format.
 
WMA and M4P files are large while MP3 files are smaller and take up less space. However, some audiphiles complain that there is a loss of quality in the music on MP3. I can’t hear a difference, though.
 
Both WMA and M4P support Digital Rights Management (DRM). This is a method for restricting the use of the downloaded music. MP3 does not support DRM. Because of that, if you have music in the MP3 format, you can do whatever you want with it without restriction.
 
Until recently, if you purchased music online for download from walmart.com, amazon.com, and other similar online retailers, your music was in WMA format and there were restriction on where you could play that song and what you could do with it.
 
Now, however, most online music retailers have converted over to MP3 format. The last remaining online retailer that still used DRM has been Itunes. But now even Itunes is converting over to DRM free songs.
 
If you have music in a format with DRM restrictions on them, you can generally convert them into DRM free MP3 files by burning them to CD and then ripping them back off the CD into MP3 format. That’s because when you burn a CD, none of the DRM information is burned to the CD.
 
Once you have all of your music in MP3 format, you want to organize it. There are lots of different ways to organize your music. If you have a lot of music, then using folders to sub-categorize your music is a good idea. Some people sub-categorize by genre, the artist name, or year. The possibilities are endless. It’s your music and you can organize it in a way that makes sense to you.
 
It’s also a good idea to use a standard file naming convention for your songs. For example, you could use: artist name – song title.mp3
 
In this example, if you have the song Michelle by the Beatles, you could name the file:
 
The Beatles – Michelle.mp3
 
But having the word "The" might be a problem. So you could do this:
 
Beatles – Michelle.mp3
 
or this
 
Beatles, The – Michelle.mp3
 
The good part is you can do it however you want. Just be consistant to avoid confusion.
 
When you play a song on a computer, an IPOD, phone, or an MP3 player of some sort it displays information about the song. This is called metadata. It includes information like artist, song title, album, genre, year released, and so forth. It’s a good idea to have this information consistant. For example, if you have songs from several different albums from the same artist, the metadata between them could be inconsistant. In keeping with our example, one album might have the artist listed as "Beatles" while another might have it as "The Beatles". This means when you sort by artist, all of the songs by the Beatles will not be together.
 
There are lots of utilities out there that try and help you organize your music. Many of them cost money, but my favorite one is free. It will let you update the metadata. It will also allow you to rename the song files. And the best part is that you can do it in mass instead of just one song at a time which can take a long time if you have a lot of music.
 
Some examples of some things you can do with this utility is that you can select all of the songs by an artist and type the artist name in once and it will go and update all of the songs to have that artist name.
 
Something else you can do is select a range of songs and tell it to rename the song file. You can tell it what format to use (ex: artist – song title) and it will go and rename them all using the metadata in each song and the song file format you specify. It couldn’t be much easier.
 
Getting your metadata and song file names all standardized makes organizing, finding, and listening to your music much easier.
 
The name of this cool utility is mp3tag. You can download it for free by clicking here.

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