Anal mp3 tagging question
September 29, 2006 11:22 PM   Subscribe

Anal mp3 tagging question: I'm organizing my mp3 collection and frustrated with how inaccurate the genre tags are. Does anyone know of any good programs that can automatically scan mp3 and update accurate and more specific mp3 genres? (iam currently using fixtunes which uses the amazon database, which is quite awful.)
posted by nyu2 to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I use the freeware Media Tagger which uses freedb, though I'm not anal about "genre" tags so I dont know if its any better than what you already have. You might try it though; its free, intuitive to use, and works great for updating, editing tags.

Another program that uses Gracenote (yet another database, formerly CDDB) is QMP (download the beta, see link). You might have luck with its database, for "genre" tags.

Both of these are different from the amazon database, so you might have some luck.
posted by jak68 at 11:57 PM on September 29, 2006

There is simply no way to parse "genre" through an analysis of the MP3 file.
posted by sourwookie at 12:15 AM on September 30, 2006

Nope; genre's a subjective opinion; different people will assign the same work to different genres.

My preference is to cram each artist into a particular genre, because I use genre as the top of my file hierarchy. So Bob Dylan, despite all his rock non-acoustic music, sits in the "Folk" directory, just because I tend to think of Dylan as a "folk" artist and I want all the Dylan albums collected together.

In fact, since I like folk music, my "Folk" directory includes any artist for which a case can be made they're folk. My "Rock" directory is much smaller, and my "Pop" directory is reserved for artists who aren't sufficiently loud for "Rock" or introspective or political for "Folk".

Again, my use of the genre category has much more to do with my prejudices and preferences than anything objective; I think you'll find thus true of most people's genre designations.

Another example is my splitting of "Musical" and "Opera"; since my preliminary definition "opera contains no spoken words not set to music" didn't fit my gut prejudices, this pretty much devolved to being Broadway goes into Musicals, and 19th century and prior goes into "Opera". Victorian Light Opera (== Gilbert & Sullivan) goes into "Opera" pretty much so I can poke a stick in the eyes of anyone claiming that's not Opera.

(Well, OK, the distinction is slightly more concrete: G&S like other opera has overtures, but then so does Jesus Christ Superstar. And god know Sondheim is as pretentious as "real" opera, in its own way.)

And that's not all: "Country" conflates classic country music and the newer, more pop-like country. The genres "Americana" and "Alternative" just slop around the intersection of "Country"a nd "Folk" without imposing any real meaning. "Celtic" fig leafs a multitude of category-error sins, and "Vocal" and "Vocal Pop" try to disguise the meaninglessness of "classical music dominated by vocals that isn't actually opera" and "Folk singers and Lounge singer singing standards from Musicals and some Folk".

And no, girlfriend, despite all the G&S and musicals and Sondheim and torch singers and wicked delightful lounge singers, I'm not gay. And don't even ask what's in the genre "Patriotic".
posted by orthogonality at 1:13 AM on September 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

There is simply no way to parse "genre" through an analysis of the MP3 file.

Perhaps the poster is thinking of a system that looks up the genre(s) based upon the known artist\trackname information. If such a thing does not exist, I smell a project coming on.

Sorry I have no suggestions, but I'm interested in this as well, so I believe I'll lurk about.
posted by !Jim at 1:16 AM on September 30, 2006

Genre is extremely subjective. how deep do you go? is death-metal classified as metal, or is all of it just rock? Whats the difference between hip-hop and rap? Indie vs Rock? Alternative?

Genre Listings Matching 'House' (Under Electronic) on AMG:
Acid House
Left-Field House
Progressive House
Ambient House

There are 35 genres listed just for electronic. The same kind of thing holds for Reggae, Hip Hop, Rock, Blues...

I'm just happy I have coherant name tags on my music, I have come to accept genre as a useless tag and I don't even bother anymore.
posted by sophist at 1:17 AM on September 30, 2006

I downloaded the freedb database and wrote some perl to parse it looking for genres to associate with the artists in my collection.

Where there was more than one option, it took the most popular. I also had to make a list of genres that I wasn't interested in so I also made it ignore the extended winamp genres (id3v1 I think only defines 63 but the Nullsoft chaps added a load more).

Overall its pretty good. Although it does make the assumption that every artist has only one genre - but its better than the mess I had before.

One day, I may make it into a proper Windows application with a nice interface.
posted by mr_silver at 2:39 AM on September 30, 2006

Much easier to just leave off genre tags altogether -- you'll never be happy with anything automatic, because you'll always think "why is this one rock but this one alternative?" or whatever.
posted by reklaw at 3:55 AM on September 30, 2006

Genre tags are almost always crap. I just noticed yesterday that CDDB labeled my Eno Music for Airports as "Rock".
posted by unixrat at 5:05 AM on September 30, 2006

Genres are not mutually exclusive, so any system that only allows a single genre tag is broken. Avoid.
posted by flabdablet at 5:48 AM on September 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

I once had the idea to make all my genres ethnic/social groups, eg serbian, black, gypsy, redneck etc. But I didn't really have the energy to follow it up.

Also, it was a bad idea.
posted by claudius at 5:51 AM on September 30, 2006

I only have four genres: Full Album, Single, Compilation and Spoken Word. It means that on the iPod I can see a list of my full albums by artist, or compilations by title, and so on.

It makes navigating a swamp of artists -- where often I only have one track -- much easier. Happily, it's also a much better way to find the track I want that remembering if it's "hip-hop" or "rap", and it's much lower-maintenance.

Wrongly-tagged items stand out a mile, too.
posted by bonaldi at 6:18 AM on September 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

I use three genres: dance, lounge, and ambient, depending on whether I plan to listen to it standing up, sitting, or laying down.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:01 AM on September 30, 2006 [2 favorites]

Check out Media Monkey. I haven't used it but heard good things about it. It will automatically tag your music - from what source I'm not sure.
posted by MarkLark at 7:23 AM on September 30, 2006

That's not anal. This is anal: Why not define a few custom "MyGenre-Rock", MyGenre-Soul" etc fields, and make these numerical. Embed them in the files. Then assign the genre "score" yourself based on either manual perception, or by simply counting scrapes from websites and online playlist aggregators? During playback, you could a smartlist to playback genres based on probabilities, using the scores as a handicap.
posted by meehawl at 7:35 AM on September 30, 2006

Just leave the genre field alone. Nobody uses it. Because no one uses it, there's no database to pull the info from, and there's no way to parse this from the file.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 3:15 PM on September 30, 2006

Music Brainz might help you out. I sincerely doubt that the info you're going to find there will be any better than Amazon, though.
posted by chrisamiller at 3:50 PM on September 30, 2006

The issue is not whether you can pull info from a central database (you most certainly can) but the fact that those databases have really crappy genre tags in the first place.
posted by sophist at 3:27 PM on October 13, 2006

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