Mass Music Organization
September 20, 2005 10:51 AM   Subscribe

Ideas for additional organization of my music via 'Genre' tags in iTunes... [+]

So, I have a diverse collection of music totaling approximately 1,300 full albums, all properly tagged with Artist and Album and want to facilitate browsing by 'genreizing' all of them. The ideal system would be something akin to Flickr where I could tag an album multiple times. ex: 'Om Lounge 3' would get 'Electronic' and 'Chillout'. What I'm struggling with is developing genres that find a sweetspot between not too general but still somewhat specific.
ex: hardcore / post-hardcore / world / trance / dance (house, prog. house, deep house) / electronic / emo / screamo (too specific?) / hip-hop / indie / industrial & goth
ex2: 'Earth Crisis' would not be 'Straight-Edge Hardcore' but just 'Hardcore'

What genre tags or system would you MeFi's suggest?

Also, where should I put bands that might fall into two genres?
ex: 'Mogwai', 'Red Sparrows', 'Explosions in the Sky', or 'Appleseed Cast' (indie / emo), 'Atreyu' (metalcore-ish), Her Space Holiday.
posted by whatitis to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
I use the widely-unused "Grouping" ID4 tag to add all sorts of tags and multiple genres, using an AppleScript called "Add to Group" which appends that tag with any text I want without replacing what's already there (a problem when you manually change information on multiple songs).

I can't find the script online now, though I'm sure I got it from Doug's. If it interests you, I can send it to you when I get home.
posted by Robot Johnny at 10:59 AM on September 20, 2005

I use the grouping tag as well.

I came up with a list of genres (22, in fact), that I considered covered all my music. Now I stick strictly to that list.

I have what I consider the most relevant genre in the genre field, then any applicible genre in the grouping field, with the genres separated by a comma. Them I build playlists on the basis of what's in the grouping field.
posted by ascullion at 11:04 AM on September 20, 2005

the 'grouping' tag sounds like it might be a possible then. i like how 'genre' integrates into the itunes gui however. can the 'grouping' tag assist in browsing in a similar way?
posted by whatitis at 11:23 AM on September 20, 2005

Me too. I keep the genre's extremely general (I only have four: Jazz, Classical, Rock, Lectures). Pretty much everything you named would go under Rock for me (except "trance", maybe). Then I use Grouping to put music into several different, more specific categories. This way you can put a single song or album into multiple groups which makes the creation of Smart Playlists a lot more fun and useful. The Genre tag only plays a role for me when I want something from an entirely different planet of musical style (like Classical vs. Rock).

I don't use the Comments field very often, but I suppose you could add key words or something there too.
posted by crapples at 11:24 AM on September 20, 2005

sometimes if I want easy access to an artist I'll use his name as the genre. All Tom Waits in my library are listed as Tom Waits in the genre field.
posted by captainscared at 11:32 AM on September 20, 2005

can the 'grouping' tag assist in browsing in a similar way?

It can if you make a series of smart playlists that contain songs that have certain words in the "grouping" tag. For example, "indie" and "pop" and "happy"... I find you can create far more specific groupings of songs this way, and songs can exist in multiple playlists, whereas they can only otherwise have one single "genre" tag.
posted by Robot Johnny at 11:42 AM on September 20, 2005

Also, it's worth adding that all these smart playlists were once hard to keep track of, but iTunes 5 now has organizing-by-folders, which makes it all much more manageable.
posted by Robot Johnny at 11:44 AM on September 20, 2005

I have come upon a hybrid solution which is to use (abuse really) the genre tag. I give songs two tags, separated by a dash.

Rolling Stones tracks get "Rock - Classic"

DJ Shadow gets "Electronica - Downtempo"

This lets me quickly and easily sort the big categories, and still have one level of more finely-grained categories. A more detailed (i.e., deeper) taxonomy I've decided is not needed. "Hard House" "Trip Hop" "Screamo" "NuElectro" -- if a sub-genre is meaningful to you, then you'll have a 2nd level bucket for it. If it's not, you'll lump it all together. So my sub-categories span about 30 or 40 genres, including some made up ones ("slowno" which is slow electronica that is not electro, like "Kruder and Dorfmeister"). This has been serving me well. It's nice on the Ipod to be able to sort by genre and see all the rock subgenres together. You can also allow oddities in a particular genre to just live at the top level (just "Rock") or you can fit them in or make a genre for them.

Another tip: I have a rap Sub-genre that is "Intros/Outros," which lets me split out all of the game shows, talk shows, shout outs, and phone messages that are intros/outros/interludes on rap and hip-hop albums. This helps make automated playlists better.
posted by zpousman at 11:47 AM on September 20, 2005

I've been wondering about this as well. I would love if iTunes would allow multiple genre tags, and link to a database (like allmusicguide or some such) to automatically assign genre to songs taken off of CD as it does with titles and such. For example I have a 7 disc boxed set from Rhino that has every song tagged as "pop" because the person entering the discs into CDDB decided they were all pop. I hate this, and I hate having to manually decide which genre each song is and then change it. I also hate that I can't just accept "pop" and leave it at that. I mean, The Beatles aren't pop to me, and while Aerosmith might be rock I don't put old Aerosmith and new Aerosmith in the same genre (anything Pump or earlier I call classic, anything later I might actually just call pop...)

The idea of using the grouping tags never occurred to me.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:52 PM on September 20, 2005

I do exactly the same as Robot Johnny with a homemade script. Actually, I've got multiple copies of it with different keywords (if I had my act together, I might make one that let me type in the keyword). I trigger it with a kbd command.

My keywords are skew to genres. I tag them more based on whether a track would be good party music, good roadtrip music, etc.

My genre nomenclature is probably too Byzantine even for me; I'd really like to be able to assign, say, "downtempo, exotic, southasian" to a track. But then you get into the problem of actually going through the collection and doing this.
posted by adamrice at 1:41 PM on September 20, 2005

I'd love a good (semi)automated solution to this. I have 1700+ albums ripped, some of which have genres like 'Reggae - Roots' or 'Rock - Grunge' and a lot more than are just whatever CDDB said they were.

An imperfect, but automated system would be far more useful to me at this point than a fantastic manual one.
posted by I Love Tacos at 2:54 PM on September 20, 2005

this guy has a great way of doing it. I've been trialing it for a couple of weeks myself and it really works - obviously you can tweak it to suit you situation.

The slow part is creating the initial playlists for genre on a track by track basis - ie: not whole albums
posted by richtea at 8:02 PM on September 20, 2005

I'm guessing this is the add-to-grouping script Johnny Robot was talking about above.
posted by olecranon at 6:59 AM on September 21, 2005

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