Starting from scratch on organizing a large digital music library
March 22, 2016 8:09 AM   Subscribe

I have a lot of digital music files in a lot of different formats. MP3, m4a, AAC, FLAC. I currently use iTunes and I mostly dislike it. I need to start over and find a solution for organizing and playing my 500(?) GB of music.

iTunes really fucked me up. I used to have all of my music files in one spot, but due to duplicated songs and music libraries in iTunes, I stopped letting iTunes do its copy thing just so it would function properly, and now my music is in like 4 different locations on one or two hard drives.

I tried completely uninstalling iTunes and deleting any library files and reimporting everything, but it hiccupped somewhere and a lot of my music didn't get imported, and there are still tons of duplicates.

Anyway, unless I can make iTunes work, I'm ready to ditch it. I need a new program that will work with Windows (10, if that matters). I'll reorganize my files properly if I find something usable. I'd prefer it to be 'pretty' but will sacrifice for functionality. I tried Foobar a while back and I remember getting frustrated with it for some reason, but it was so long ago I don't recall why.

Here is what I seek:
Can handle a variety of music formats (little converting necessary)
Nice looking, somewhat customizable interface (rearranging columns where song data appears)
Can deftly handle sort-of-a-lot of music
Playlist capability (would love if somehow had a function where playlists could be click-and-dragged to an Android phone folder?)

What music player/library hits as many of these as possible? Alternatively, what is your very favorite program of this type that may not match my list, but is great for other reasons which you will helpfully list?

Note: I know that 500GB of music may not be a lot for some people, especially/probably MeFites, but it is large enough to have caused issues due to its size, so I mentioned it.
posted by rachaelfaith to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Pre-smartphone, I really, really liked jRiver Media Center, and may well go back someday soon, because, yeah...iTunes.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:29 AM on March 22, 2016

MediaMonkey. This is what it's for. The pay version has lots of nifty features but the free version has done fine for me for years. You may need to install plugins for the AAC and FLAC files.
posted by irisclara at 8:33 AM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Windows media player is (surprisingly) good at this.
posted by mikek at 9:38 AM on March 22, 2016

MediaMonkey if you want something mostly like iTunes (but why???).

WinAmp if you want something customizable that mostly just works. (NB: that the current release crashes on you if you try to update your media library. There's a fix for this somewhere on the Winamp forums. Inexplicably, they haven't updated the installer with the fix.)

Clementine if you want something simple.

Foobar2000 if you're a masochist who likes to tweak everything.
posted by neckro23 at 9:39 AM on March 22, 2016

I use MP3Tag to get all the tags correct and then auto-rename the files into a directory structure:
"$MUSIC_LIBRARY\Artist\[YYYY] Album\## Artist - Song.mp3"

Then, I play it through Subsonic so that both my husband and I can stream through phones, browsers, etc. With minimal setup, it works great!

If you don't need to have multiple people access it, try uploading into Google Music. If you only want your music on the local network (e.g. to load a portable player), then a program recommended here is the way to go.
posted by bookdragoness at 10:52 AM on March 22, 2016

Mediamonkey has a lot of powerful management features, plus accepts various plug-ins that will help you, such as Advanced Duplicate Find-and-Fix, and Magic Nodes, which has very sophisticated filtering capabilities.
posted by timepiece at 11:23 AM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Nthing mediamonkey. It's super light (ugh, iTunes, I hate you) and makes organizing and managing your music a breeze. Worth the $20 or $30 for the lifetime pay version for me, personally, but the light version is great as well.
posted by Jaclyn at 12:05 PM on March 22, 2016

Another vote for J River Media Center. Been using it since my first iPod when there wasn't even a Windows version of iTunes and have never regretted it. Amazing playlist/smartlist functionality, great community, brilliant responsive support.
posted by merocet at 12:33 PM on March 22, 2016

MusicBee, pretty much the only thing I miss since switching to a Mac.
posted by mirthe at 1:25 PM on March 22, 2016

Definitely MediaMonkey. It's super compatible with a lot of different files and devices, has a pretty friendly interface, and works on Windows. That was my go-to music software before I switched to a Mac, and the worst part about switching to a Mac was having to deal with iTunes. :P
posted by helloimjennsco at 11:43 AM on March 23, 2016

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