May 26, 2010 1:58 PM   Subscribe

What can I use to synchronize multiple music libraries on one computer without overlap?

A bunch of friends and I use a computer as and xbmc and a server. All of us have different music libraries. Is there a way to synchronize all of our music libraries with the music library on the xbmc without duplicates?
posted by fizzzzzzzzzzzy to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My kneejerk is always to suggest rsync, but unison is better suited for a two way sync.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 4:01 PM on May 26, 2010

rsync or something like that isn't going to get the job done without a lot of prep work.

You've got N different libraries, with N different organizational styles and N different levels of tagging accuracy.

For example, I have a whole raft of Frank Sinatra in my music library, but chances are it's not organized, tagged, and/or named like any you might have. If we just rsync them, we'll probably end up with two copies of a lot of it.

The quickest and dirtiest way:

Make sure the folder structure and file names are consistent across all the libraries. It's:

\this-guys-lib\Music\The Beatles\The White Album\01-Back in the USSR.mp3
\that-guys-lib\Music\The Beatles\The White Album\01-Back in the USSR.mp3

and so on. If you make sure the tagging on all the individual libraries adheres to the same standards of style and accuracy, you can use some automated tool to do this.

It can't be
\this-guys-lib\MP3\The Beatles\The White Album\01-Back in the USSR.mp3
\that-guys-lib\Music\Beatles\The Beatles\Track1-Back in the USSR.mp3

or whatever because then it's harder for an automated tool to pick up that this is the same song.

OK, you've got your libraries all tagged and named consistently.

Now you can use rsync or whatever to sync the directories.

Once you've done this with each library, the master location will contain one copy of most of the songs. There will probably be some dupes due to compilations and whatnot, but for the most part you should be OK. Then review that list by hand and weed out the final dupes.

One thing not addressed by the above is which copy of a given song you really want to save. If Bob's rip of the White Album is 320kps MP3 and Ed's is 64kps mono, you really want to keep the former and the simple filename method won't account for that. If one guy's got AAC files and the other's got MP3, this isn't going to account for that.

I did this recently, syncing two libraries into a single home server library. I used iTunes.

I set it to organize the songs for me, in some central location. One at a time, I dragged the other libraries in. As each got imported, I created playlists containing all Bob's songs, all Ed's songs, etc. ITunes smart playlists used that information to sort out the unique songs. I then used the "Find Duplicates" view on some other smart playlists to sort out actual duplicate songs. You can't delete files from disk from smart playlists in iTunes, so what I do is select all the "losers" and set their artist to "The Deletions". Then later I can filter in the main view and delete all "the Deletions" songs. I suppose if I ever find a band called The Deletions that I like I'll have to rethink this.

Even then, this requires a lot of review. ITunes flags dupes based on artist and title, so "The Who - Won't Get Fooled Again" from "Who's Next" and "The Who - Won't Get Fooled Again" from "The Kids Are Alright" show up as dupes, though they aren't. Because of that, I used some "Dupe Hunter" smart playlists set to ignore live albums and other sources of spurious "dupes" as my input to the "Find Differences" view.

It took a long time an hour at a time here and there, but I'm not aware of any automated tool that will do this all for you. It is inherently something that a human will have to oversee given all the vagaries.

If you hate iTunes, you could use it just to do this consolidation, then get rid of it.

Of course, now that I post this someone will chime in with a link to a tool that does it all automatically and flawlessly.
posted by chazlarson at 4:23 PM on May 26, 2010

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