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Home » Applications, MySQL

Managing your MP3 collection

Submitted by on May 3, 2006 – 10:40 am 6 Comments

Remember all the MP3s you ripped or downloaded sitting in that big directory somewhere on your hard drive? Getting those files organized by genre, performer, or album can be daunting task if the MP3s are not properly tagged; and most of them are not. There are a few applications out there that can automatically (with varying degrees of accuracy) identify and correctly tag your MP3 files.

Most of such applications are commercial but there are a few freebies among them. One of them – MusicBrainz – happens to be very good and it runs on multiple platforms. That’s the one we’ll be looking at. Let’s consider the entire process of downloading and organizing your MP3s. The following is just a description of how some people do it, so don’t regard it as a call for action. And how to turn your mp4 to mp3.

Step 1 – Downloading

Probably the best application for downloading MP3s and other files is eMule. Some users complain that eMule is slow. The reason for this is that these users are sitting behind firewalls (such as built-in firewalls in their routers) which are blocking two ports eMule uses to transfer data. If port forwarding is correctly configured in the firewall eMule will be very fast. You also need to share some files – the more the better. They don’t have to be MP3s.

You can build an extensive music collection by using band/performer lists from Wikipedia. Feed it to eMule’s search function and pick files with most sources.

Step 2 – Not getting caught

MP3s are normally around 5-8Mb in size and eMule can download them very quickly over a broadband connection. The files are stored in the “Incoming” folder which is shared to other eMule users. This means that whatever you downloaded and whatever is sitting in the “Incoming” folder is accessible to anybody. Sometimes this is not a good thing and you might want to move certain files to a non-shared folder.

This can be easily accomplished with a simple batch script running from the Task Scheduler every, say, 15 minutes. On a Unix desktop you can use a simple shell script running from cron. The script would move, say, all *.mp3 files from “Incoming” to “Music” folder which is not shared on the network.

Here’s an example of a Windows batch script that would move file from the “Incoming” folder to different non-shared folders based on the file’s extension:

xcopy /CEDY "J:DownloadseMuleIncoming*.mp3" "J:DownloadseMulePrivateMusic"
del /Q "J:DownloadseMuleIncoming*.mp3"

Step 3 – Organizing

So now you have a directory with a huge number of MP3s. Go to the MusicBrainz site and get the tagger utility. Install it and configure to watch for files in the “Music” folder and to rename and move files automatically to a designated directory. See the screenshots below for more details.

Configure MusicBrainz Tagger to automatically save files that were identified with 80% accuracy.

Configure MusicBrainz Tagger to automatically save files that were identified with 80% accuracy.

Configure Tagger to watch an incoming directory for any new MP3 files and automatically process them and store in the output directory.

Configure Tagger to watch an incoming directory for any new MP3 files and automatically process them and store in the output directory.

MusicBrainz running under Windows XP

Now you have eMule pumping MP3s for you and MusicBrainz organizing the files. There will be about 20% MP3 files that MusicBrainz cannot positively identify. You can use MusicBrainz to manually locate track information or just delete the “difficult” MP3s.

Step 4 – Sharing

If yo want to be able to listen to your music collection from anywhere with Internet access, you might want to try a nice free application called MP3Act. This would require some knowlege of Apache Web server, MySQL database, and PHP. You will also need to have a Linux server. If you have no idea what I am talking about, then forget it – it would be too comlicated. However, if you already have a Linux box up and running, then installing MP3Act is a piece of cake.

MP3Act album browse window

One thing to keep in mind when adding new music to MP3Act – this application uses a MySQL update process that is not very memory efficient. When you add a directory with a large number of files, you will quickly run out memory. I used a Windows macro to add each subfolder one by one to avoid this problem. The author ot MP3Act is aware of this issue and will probably fix it shortly anyway.

Step 5 – Listening

Install WinAmp on Windows or XMMS on Unix and associate media streams with these applications. If you are behind a firewall on a Unix workstation, open XMMS -> right-click -> Options -> Preferences -> Audio I/O Plugins -> MPEG Layer 1/2/3 -> Configure -> Streaming -> check “User proxy” and enter your proxy information.

Another great player to try under Linux is AmaroK. This application uses the tags in your MP3 files to nicely organize all your music. It will also download album cover art and give you easy access to information about artists and albums. Here’s a screenshot of AmaroK running under SuSE 10:

AmaroK player for KDE

I really like AmaroK. It’s stable, full of interesting features, and it’s pleasing to the eye. Give it a shot.

Happy hunting!

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  • ibjammin44 says:

    My animator only takes WAV format and I’d like to make a music video with a song I have. However, it’s in a format(possibly mp3 or Windows Media) that doesn’t have a way I know to change it to WAV. Help is so appreciated!

    Or, if you could tell me how to record audio from my computer without recording outside noises, that would also work.

  • Echo says:

    I just got a 8GB sansa sandisk mp3 and i put 44 songs on it and it’s telling me that it took up over 2GB. I really think that’s wrong. Am i right? What should i do?

  • Andre says:

    I have owned the first generation ipod nano when it first came out, i had for about a year and then i gave it to my brother which left to the military. I love music, and i was wondering which one should i get? or if you think there is something better than these two what do you recommend?
    by the way, i do not have a music player, that is why i really want one.

  • Cliffy N says:

    I am getting married in Miami. For part of the wedding, I want to have something sort of like DJ service, but I want complete control over the songs. In fact, I want to have everything chosen in advance from my (and my fiance’s) mp3 collection. So….should I:

    1) Hire a DJ to play songs only from my list and my mp3s – and not worry about what he has or doesn’t on his list (can this be done)?

    2) Find a speaker set and just press play?

    I guess I’m looking for someone who can manage the music but not choose it. I don’t want to be limited by a DJ’s list.

    Is this normal in this age of mp3s? Anyone have any specific suggestions – especially for people in the Miami area?

    BTW: It’s not that I can’t respect a DJ’s craft, it’s that music is our life. My fiance and I have spent years crafting our own artistic vision of great wedding songs – – so yeah – – the trick is finding somebody who is willing to accept money to honor our very specific vision (not theirs).

    I have no clue where to start! :-) Specific names would be great, too!
    I extended this question because I’m really hoping I get luck and get some names…I appreciate everyone’s input…but I have to admit I’m crossing my fingers for more websites or names….

    PS- Don’t worry, I have no intention of playing sapppy romanitc songs all night – yuck ;-)! We have worked hard to create a really thoughtful program with songs for all invited! :-)

  • Gabriel Kenney says:

    OK so I have a collection of videos. I tried to play one but there was no audio. It was working perfectly fine a few days ago. This has happened to a few of my videos. What happened?

  • Caltel T says:

    I downloaded some songs by a local band from their Facebook page. They posted them for download for free, so it’s legal. But I can’t get them onto my Zune. They’re MP3 files, which Zune supports. It’s synced every other song on my computer, except those three. What am I doing wrong?

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