How obsessive are you about your iTunes (or equivalent) library?

I like the iTunes Shared Music feature, where you can listen to the music in other people’s libraries.

It’s interesting to snoop through the music collections of my co-workers. They range from the far-hipper-than-thou to the heavily cerebral (all classical) to the exceedingly geeky. (Though I could probably take the Most Geeky prize myself.) Fun listening, to be sure.

As interesting as the music itself is, I also find it interesting how people organize their music.

I’m pretty obsessive about this. I get the Gracenote listing for all the CDs I rip, but alter them if they to suit my organizational system. I change all the names of the classical composers to just their last name so they’re all listed together. For compliations and “greatest hits” I change the release date to the date that the song was originally released. All my music, including the freebie downloads, are fully labeled with artist, correct title, genre, etc. I’ve uploaded Gracenote listings for serveral classical CDs because the once in the database were wrong or formatted incorrectly, and submitted English versions of a few that came down in French. I was even the first one who uploaded a listing for a promotional mix. I’m inordinately proud of that. :slight_smile:

But browsing through other people’s collections, I see rampant disorganization. Some songs are listed with this in the title field: “Artist - Song title.” How could you put that into your library without taking the time to put the artist into the artist field? Some songs don’t even have the artist labeled at all, and some people don’t even have comprehensible titles. “SRB 1”, “SRB 2”, “SRB 3,” etc.? What’s that supposed to mean? Solid Rocket Booster? Eh?

My physical CD collection is a mess. Every once in a while I go through it and try to alphabetize it but I usually lose steam part way through. But in iTunes it’s relatively easy to keep things perfectly organized, particularly is you attend to it as you download or rip the songs in the first place.

On the other hand, some of them are just a bit too precious. One of my colleagues has his entire library in lower case. Uh-huh. Another appears to be on a first name basis with her favorite artists. “Don’t Drink the Water” is by “Dave.” “Every Day is a Winding Road” by “Sheryl.” :rolleyes:

How obsessive are you about your library?

I try.

All my artist and title fields are filled in. Most of the genre fields too. I’m still not sure what to do with some song that don’t seem to fit the rules thuogh.

Take the soundtrack to Chicago. Are the songs by “The Cast of the motion picture Chicago”, or do I put each song as being by “Catherine Zeta-Jones” and “Catherine Zeta-Jones/Queen Latifah”.

The latter is the true performer, but the fomer makes organizing simplier.


Also, the aformentioned genre field. How exactly do I do that? I mean The Cult crosses different genres witihn the same album. Then there’s The Who, Are they “rock” or “classic rock”?

Mine are organized by decade. I’ve got a collection that spans about 60 years or so, and there’s no reason to organize it any other way.


I tried to keep mine organized, but it’s just to big to go back and make changes. The main thing I try to keep straight is composer and artist because there are so many cover songs.

I don’t have an mp3 player, but I do have 12,000 records and CDs, so I hope you won’t mind if I chime in. I am obsessively organizational. It is essential to have a database when you have this much music. I have several. One for gramophone and 78 RPM, one for 45 RPM, one for LPs, one for CDs, one for bootlegs and one for The Beatles. They are all as current as today. I no longer have to wonder if I have a song, or what version of multiple choices of mix I have. It’s all catalogued. There is virtually no piece of information that I could want to know on a record that isn’t listed. I used to keep three binders, with everything written out in longhand. Of course, the problem with that is having to rewrite each chapter in the alphabet once there were 5 or 6 pages of additions. Now it’s all in Works; I never have to worry about it!

My 45s are stored in shelves, alphabetically by year. The LPs and CDs are alphabetical. I need to build another wall of shelving for CDs, but I haven’t got around to it yet. I’ve gotta get going on it soon, because CDs R through Z are in three rows on the floor!

I hope you don’t think I was trying to hijack your thread. I saw that it was about the organization of a music collection, and that’s a subject on which I’m intimately familiar!

All of my mp3s have the artist, album, track number, and genre filled in. That makes the collection more or less self-organizing with any kind of decent library system. On disk, they’re organized by the first letter of the artist’s name, the artist, the album, and then track number.

Assigning genres can be difficult, but I take my best shot at it.

I organize mine by what events in my life I associate it with…

er. No, actually, I don’t organize it at all. I do make an effort to enter cd info when I rip cds, if it’s not in the CD database. Otherwise, all our music lives on a central server and I let my husband fiddle with genre labels and such since he’s the obsessive music lover. I did get annoyed recently that one of my folk albums was labelled World Music, just because that genre label seems to be slapped pretty indiscriminately on any music not from round these parts that whoever picks the genres couldn’t be bothered identifying properly. (Alternative is another annoying grab-bag genre.)

I have Musicmatch, which I assume is similar to iTunes or what-have-you.

Most of it is sorted by artist. Unfortunately, if you type “The Beatles,” it puts it under ‘T’ but I can deal with that. But all my musical theatre has to be re-tagged with the title of the musical in the artist field. Otherwise I have ten different artists for the show, as RumMunkey explains. Or perhaps I should do it by composer/lyricist, but as of now, I don’t.

I don’t use the genre field. Is that weird?

F:\Artist\Album\Artist - Album - Track# - TrackName.ogg
F:\Soundtrack\FilmTitle\FilmTitle - Track# - Artist - TrackName.ogg
F:\Various\Artist - TrackName.mp3

Generally, no more info is present in the file tags than is present in the file name. If having a tag has no effect on how the track is displayed in Winamp, it probably won’t have one unless it was autotagged at the time it was ripped/encoded. I gave some thought as to what would be best when I was initially setting up the CD ripping software… so it’s all organized automagically.

I hate the genre field. It’s arbitrary and useless. I will go out of my way to clear this tag if I find it has been set.

I’m just lucky to have gotten all songs in there in the first place. :slight_smile: I’ve corrected a couple of blatent errors that I stumbled across, but I’m about as un-obsessed as one could be about it. I just like to listen to tunes when I get a chance and that part is working fine.


Unfortunately, when I first started ripping my CDs, I didn’t have access to any data other than what was on the album notes, if I happened to have the case handy and hadn’t lost it. Also, a friend convinced me that VBR was the way to go. Now that bugs me a lot. Basically, I have a lot of stuff that I did about seven years ago that bug me.

My music is in G:\Artist\Album\Artist-Songtitle.mp3 and is tagged with artist, title, track #, and genre. I’ve made up a bunch of genres that I use, such as “Angst Rock” and “Livejournal Pop”

I got my iPod last month, so I’m still in the process of importing my CDs and organizing them. About 90% is “Classical” and I found the data provided by the internet lacking cohesion, consistency, and precession in most cases.

Composer is more important to me than artist. (Too many “artists” associated with classical recordings and only one field. The Artist1; Artist2; Artist3 method doesn’t help me easily find recordings with Artist2. What I’d love to see is a relational database structure—one recording to many artists—but that will probably never happen)

When data is composer is provided it often comes as FIRSTNAME LASTNAME, so if I want Mahler, I’d have to look under Gustave. Modifications are necessary. I like LASTNAME, FIRSTNAME. But maybe switching to just last name might be easier.

Album and “Song” title are likewise discombobulated. I haven’t formed a policy yet on how I want to look, so I’m slow on importing. I’d rather have order and consistency to discordancy.

So, yes, I guess I’m obsessive.

The ID3v2 specification includes fields for both composer and performer, but most editors don’t allow you to set that because most people don’t care about it.

      • As far as capitalization goes, some music player software sets and shows only lower-case lettering, so the people may not be aware of this “problem”.
  • I rip CD’s with Pyro, and it has the CDDB feature that fills in the tags automatically 99% of the time. I tend to name the files “artistname - albumname - 00 - songname.mp3” because one of the programs I use to play files displays only the filename. I am always rather stunned when I find people on P2P that have thousands of non-descriptively-named song files in one folder. If they only use crappy jukebox software that rips and indexes by tag and ignores filenames, then this is what happens. “track01.wma”, “track02.wma”, “track03.wma”, all at 320kb. -So each song is 50+ megs in size. (sigh) F***in’ retards. [disconnect]

  • As far as iTunes, I think it’s humorous that people think it’s “hip and trendy” to pay for low-quality 96kb versions of music (worse than a cassette tape!) when you can still download 192+kb versions for free, but whatever.
  • And as far as “sharing music” goes, um… :smiley: —yea, mine does that too.

I gotta at least have artist, title, album, and genre correct; otherwise, what’s the point?

Mostly I append the genre with a “/” to make sure that genre-jumping stuff is sortable to both genres and the combination genre. I also try to put comments on artists that appear on more than one album by more than one group. Dave Grohl appears under Foo Fighters, Probot, and QOTSA.

I hate that. Besides editing titles to capitalize and making sure there are no _'s between words and hyphens are properly spaced with a space before and after, I edit out album and track and version (1) numbers. They’re fine in the tags, but not the title. On the other hand, I alphabetize nearly everything including address books and this fic archive site by First names rather than last…

This really is my kind of thread :slight_smile:

Since I got iTunes anyway, more than half (that which isn’t spent on Championship Manager) of my computer time has been on ripping my CDs to 192VBR MP3 and organising them in iTunes.

Gracenote is a saviour in this regard, but I’m astounded by the daftness of some of the entries. On one compilation CD, ‘Everybody’s Happy Nowadays’ by the Buzzcocks was rendered in the title field as ‘Everybody’s Happy Mondays’ :confused: :dubious: :smack:!

One-star Gracenote contributors are like podkayne’s friend, with the title and the artist both in the title field and no year or genre. Two star contributors have the titles in all lower case so I have to go and capitalise the first letter of each word. On the other hand, five-star contributors have all the years correct (year of song release) on compilation or greatest hits CDs so I don’t have to muck about looking for them in the sleeve-notes or Guinness Book Of Hit Singles.

Genres can be a bit of a difficulty. See my new thread ‘iTunes Genre Assignment’ to comment on this as its too long for this thread. Obvious genre note, though: Alternative&Punk just isn’t specific enough–if Bjork is in the same category as The Boomtown Rats then something just ain’t right!

Finally, my big iTunes bugbear is the filenames. An irritating but IMO necessary part of ripping each CD in iTunes is using Tag&Rename to change the file name to the format I’ve been using for all my mp3s since 1997:


I Want You.mp3
which could be any one of 5 different songs in my collection


I Want You - Savage Garden.mp3
Obssessive enough for you? :wink:

My iTunes follows 2 rules: New and Good.

My music is organized by play count and by star-rating. My default listen is called “latest list” which is a smart list set to filter out anything under 2 stars or a play count over 6.

If a song is really great (1-2%) it will gain a coveted 3rd star. Of those, a select handful gain 4-star status. I can’t bring myself to rate anything 5-stars, since that would imply that the music was the best it could possibly be and nothing could be better.

I try to fill out the basic song information as accurately as possible (Led Zepplin did NOT sing “Paint it Black”), but as long as the tunes show up grouped with the correct artist on my iPod I am happy.

Very obsessive, but not so’s anyone else could make sense of it. Most of my music library is now on my computer in mp3s (godbless EZ Audio), and I tend to use the computer as a jukebox. I’ve got stuff alphabetical within genres, but my genre classifications run the gamut from “Rock” (sorted by sub-genre, decade and then alpha by artist) and “Folk” (alpha by artist) to “K’s stuff” which are songs I snagged from my daughter. All my Christmas music is sorted by song title, then artist, but everything else is sorted the other way 'round.