You help me! You help me fix my music library!
October 30, 2010 12:34 PM   Subscribe

My MP3 Library is a mess. I want to fix it. I know these questions have been asked before, but mine is perhaps a bit more particular.

I have a network share called "BLAH" filled with approximately 100GB of music. The music is *relatively* well tagged, but the file structure is a bloody mess.

I have another network share called "Music" that is present empty.

I want a program that will suck in all the music from "BLAH", and dump it into "Music" while using the tag data of the tracks to generate the file and folder information.

It seems to me this is the best way to "start over" so to speak - abandon the bloody and awful file structure of "BLAH" and start with a new share that is intelligently ordered based on the tag structure.

I've tried a couple different programs. MusicBee seems to almost be able to do this, but not really. MediaMonkey seems like it *could* do this, but it seems more interested in crashing constantly.

Any ideas?
posted by kbanas to Technology (21 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I was coming in to suggest Media Monkey. Are you trying to do the entire switch in one shot? I'm in the process of reorganizing everything but I'm doing it all either by album or by artist, never more than that. It could be that it's crashing due to attempting to handle that much stuff at once.
posted by theichibun at 12:49 PM on October 30, 2010

If you just want to use the existing tags to generate a new file structure, I would recommend mp3tag. I highly doubt your tags are in as good shape as you think though. If you are willing to shell out $20, use Jaikoz to fix your tags. Otherwise, Musicbrainz.
posted by sophist at 12:53 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Foobar2000. Here's what to do:

1) Install.
2) Point its library at the network share with all of your music.
3) Select all your music.
4) Right-click on any of the files, File Operations -> Move to -> ...
5) Set the destination folder to \\share\Music or wherever that folder is.
6) Set the filename pattern as you like.
7) Run.
posted by sinfony at 12:55 PM on October 30, 2010

It's not everyone's favorite program, but iTunes does exactly this very easily.
posted by AtomicBee at 1:00 PM on October 30, 2010

Musicbrainz (or, rather, the client for whatever OS you are using), like sophist mentioned, does exactly this. Just make sure to specify an output directory, as there isn't one by default, and you're golden. I suggest doing 10-20 album,s at a time, though. The program isn't too stable when you try to throw an entire library in there, especially when trying to read tracks.
posted by griphus at 1:03 PM on October 30, 2010

Tag&Rename could do this. It lets you rename files based on tags (and you can put backslashes in the filenames to get directories). You could use the free trial version to do this.

But you should clean up your tags first. Fixing your tags will be a bit of work, but in the long run it'll be less than doing the big move and then having to clean up small errors as you discover them.
posted by bjrn at 1:30 PM on October 30, 2010

Response by poster: I have fucking Jaikoz and I want to stab myself because it is, without a doubt, the most incomprehensible piece of crap I've ever come across. I've been staring at the HELP documentation for the last half hour and it's just.... it's just incomprehensible.

I will now stab myself in the eyes.
posted by kbanas at 2:28 PM on October 30, 2010

Try Picard. I've never even had to look at the documentation.
posted by griphus at 2:32 PM on October 30, 2010

Response by poster: I've tried Picard too. I'm starting to think that maybe the problem isn't the software. Maybe I just dumb.

Maybe kbanas dumb.

Kbanas smash.
posted by kbanas at 2:37 PM on October 30, 2010

2nding Foobar. If your tags are good, you can set up just about any filename/folder hierarchy you want. I do this every couple of months, collect all my recently downloaded music into a "messy" folder, then filter with foobar, rename and merge files into my main collection. It's magic, fast and highly scalable. The first time I (re)created my main archive I ran it on 100GB+ collection and it was fine, my only bottleneck being disk speed.

but iTunes does...

itunes? itrash. Sorry, I can't help it.
posted by tracert at 2:41 PM on October 30, 2010

Response by poster: itunes? itrash. Sorry, I can't help it.

No, it's fine with me. It's garbage.
posted by kbanas at 2:43 PM on October 30, 2010

Response by poster: Fine, I moved back to Picard. Let's see how this goes.
posted by kbanas at 2:44 PM on October 30, 2010


Open Picard. Options -> make sure Rename, Move and Save are all checked off.

Click "Options" in the Option menu (...sigh, okay, I see what you mean.)

Click on "Tags", check "Write tags to files," "clear existing tags," set ID3v2 to "2.4"

Click on "Moving Files," check "move files to..." and pick the directory. Check "delete empty directories."

Click on "File naming," check off "Rename files..." Play around with the namer -- everything between %s is a keyword that you can change, until you get a structure that you like. I am fine with the default structure which creates a directory for the band (Beatles) and within that creates a folder for the album ("Help!") As for the songs, the default is to have the track number, a dash and then the song title. You can read up here how to get more options into the naming. The default should be fine for you use, though.

Hit "OK" to get out of settings.

Drag a folder of MP3s to "Unmatched Files" on the left and hit "Cluster." This should make folders out of all the albums with decent tags. Highlight however many and hit "Lookup." With any luck, it should transfer to the left, all songs in their places. Hit Ctrl+S to save. Saving renames and moves the files to where you wanted them moved.

Sometimes it won't recognize a song, so you'll have to manually drop it into place on the left side in the right slot of the song.

Sometimes it will not find albums. Make an account on and make sure you are logged in. Search for the album in the upper right search field which will open the musicbrainz website. If you are logged in, all albums should have a green "tagger" icon. Click that and it will load up the album automatically in Picard. Then you just manually drag in the songs and hit Ctrl+S like always.

If you can't find any record of the song existing in the database, you can hit Ctrl+S in the left side of the screen and Picard will do its best with what info it already has, cleaning up the tags.

Good luck!
posted by griphus at 2:47 PM on October 30, 2010 [9 favorites]

Keep in mind that once it renames and moves files, it's a done deal. Make a copy of an album band to play around with first, until you figure out how it works. Then dump your music in there. Try to do it maybe ten or twenty albums at a time, depending on how good your computer is. Picard isn't exactly super-stable.
posted by griphus at 2:49 PM on October 30, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, griphus. Very much.

Yeah, I think my problem with a lot of this stuff was that I tried to dump my whole collection into it and then tried to work with it. With a lot of them.. I mean.. it's such a huge amount of data that they were lagging out and crashing and acting strangely and a lot of the time I it just added to my confusion.

By loading a couple albums at a time and playing with it it's much easier to figure out what's going on and how the program works. Thanks again.
posted by kbanas at 2:58 PM on October 30, 2010

I have over 500GB of music, collected over many years. I have used every conceivable tagging program out there, and I will tell you right now that Jaikoz is the best there is. Yes, it will crash if you drop more than ten thousand songs into it at a time, but the same goes for Picard or any "smart" tagger. This is because it is loading the tracks into a local database and doing internet lookups on them. This is how to use it:

File -> Add Folder
Select a bunch of directories containing your music.
Click the "Autocorrect" button.
Wait for all the algorithms to run.
Review the changes, change whatever is necessary.
Click the "Save Changes" button.
posted by sophist at 4:13 PM on October 30, 2010

Response by poster: File -> Add Folder
Select a bunch of directories containing your music.
Click the "Autocorrect" button.
Wait for all the algorithms to run.
Review the changes, change whatever is necessary.
Click the "Save Changes" button.

sophist - See, I tried that, and it kind of worked. I had two folders - one called Belle & Sebastian and the other called Belle and Sebastian. I dumped both folders (about 100 tracks) into Jaikoz. I clicked Autocorrect and although it thought for awhile, I was less than impressed with the results. A lot of inconsistencies. For example, the "Album Artist" for half the tracks was Belle & Sebastian, and was still Belle and Sebastian for the other half.

Maybe it won't over-write certain meta data that's already present? Is there a way to blank the tag data of the tracks before Jaikoz considers them?
posted by kbanas at 4:50 PM on October 30, 2010

Seconding Tag&Rename. I don't recommend doing all 500GB at once (otherwise it'll just crash like it does in MediaMonkey), but I like that you can save the tag strings to relabel your MP3s.
posted by mittenedsex at 6:57 PM on October 30, 2010

Maybe it won't over-write certain meta data that's already present?

Make sure none of your MP3s are read-only. That drove me batty for a while.
posted by griphus at 6:16 AM on October 31, 2010

itunes? itrash. Sorry, I can't help it.

Why can't you help it? Why the hate for iTunes? Is this a knee-jerk reaction to a popular program, or are there legitimate reasons to dislike iTunes' file-management? I'm curious because I've used iTunes for years and I've always been very satisfied with it. I don't pay much attention to how it organises my files because a) it seems very simple and b) it's never been an issue.
posted by schmichael at 10:49 PM on October 31, 2010

For people who are very anal particular about tagging and organization, iTunes does not do a good enough job on its own and, if used to tag large groups of things in a non-default manner, tends to make a bigger mess than the one it started with.
posted by griphus at 3:18 PM on November 1, 2010

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