Music Organization Tips: What Are Those Songs

You have them don’t you? Sitting there on your computer. Music files that you have zero clue as to what they actually are. You listen to the song and you know you know it, but you can not for the life of you remember the title, artist, or album its from. These files are the scourge of your digital music collection. These files sit in a place forever ignored for one reason or another. No matter how often you sit down to organize and try to figure out their titles, you only leave your computer discouraged and probably a little upset. Well, today we put an end to that. In the first article my Music Organization Tips series, we are going to work on trying to figure out what those songs on so that we can have all of our tracks identified. With all of our tracks identified we can effectively organize these files and folders of music.

So how do we identify these mysterious mis-labeled, unnamed, or even completely unknown tracks? This is where MusicBrainz comes in. MusicBrainz is a “community music metadatabase” and by that it is simply FreeDB.org but with Wikipedia like edit. People can sign up and edit the entries in the database and those changes can be voted on. The folks behind MusicBrainz have come up with a way to give a digital audio file a signature that can be used to identify the song when checked against their database. This makes identifying songs easier. While it is not always perfect and you can end up with more than once possible solution, it can at least help you narrow it down.

So lets look at the MusicBrainz Tagger. Installation is quite simple and self-explanatory, so I will not bore you with that. After you have the application installed, and you open it for the first time, you should see a screen that looks like the following:

mbct_main

That is all there is to the program, no fancy sidebars, floating windows, or transparent effects. Just a simple window. Now lets identify some song files. To have the MusicBrainz Tagger program identify digital music files, you simply need to drag the files you want identified into the white space that sits below the tool bar. Your window will look similar to this to the one below.

mbct_searching

Once it has attempted to find a match for all of the files, you will have a list under the “Indentified” tab. This is a list of all the tracks that it was able to identify with at least 80% guarantee match. As you can see from the screenshot below, it shows us what our ID3 in the mp3 file says and what MusicBrainz was able to figure out by searching for a similar TRM. We can also see the percentage of a match. Once, all the tracks that can be identified have been identified, you can select all the files and click “Write Tags” from the File menu and it will save the tag information from MusicBrainz into the ID3 tag.

mbct_identified

But what happens when the tagger can not identify a track? If a track can not be identified, then it is dropped into the “Unidentified” tab. If a file ends up in the identified tab, you can click the “Lookup” button to the left of the file list and this will take you to the MusicBrainz website where you can then search and/or browse the MusicBrainz database, it will require an artist to do a search, but hopefully most of your unknown tracks have some tags to lead you in the right direction on this.

mbct_unident mbct_mbsearch

The thing with MusicBrainz is the song or artist have to have at least a little popularity for people to have submitted TRM identifiers for the songs. If no TRM identifiers have been submitted then identifying the unknown tracks becomes more difficult. If you do come across a file that can not be identified for some reason, put it some place for safe keeping. You can always retry in a couple of months to see if new TRM IDs have been submitted. Hopefully most of your tracks will be identifiable on the first go round.

So, that wraps up our first part in this new series. Be sure to check back next week, where we will go over using Tag & Rename to edit the ID3 tags in the mp3 files. Until then, start identifying those unknown tracks.

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4 Responses to Music Organization Tips: What Are Those Songs

  1. Jimmy Strube says:

    Thanks for the info.

    I got the MusicBrainz Tagger and it worked pretty well. I dropped 24,000 songs in it and it was able to correctly ID all but about 6000.

    I also read on the MusicBrainz site that they aren’t going to support the Tagger any more and to get the Picard version. I tried that one out and it was able to ID about 2000 more. The UI on it sucks though.

  2. Jimmy Strube says:

    Thanks for the info.

    I got the MusicBrainz Tagger and it worked pretty well. I dropped 24,000 songs in it and it was able to correctly ID all but about 6000.

    I also read on the MusicBrainz site that they aren’t going to support the Tagger any more and to get the Picard version. I tried that one out and it was able to ID about 2000 more. The UI on it sucks though.

  3. Michael Koby says:

    Yea, I don’t like the UI on the Picard version either. I’m glad the MusicBrainz stuff helped though.

    Keep in mind that it’s all based on percentages, so some of those songs that didn’t get identified might be accurately identified, the percentages just didn’t match whatever the default settings for the taggers are.

  4. Michael Koby says:

    Yea, I don’t like the UI on the Picard version either. I’m glad the MusicBrainz stuff helped though.

    Keep in mind that it’s all based on percentages, so some of those songs that didn’t get identified might be accurately identified, the percentages just didn’t match whatever the default settings for the taggers are.

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