Organising a music collection

Also guessing missing metadata

January 3, 2020 — June 14, 2021

computers are awful
faster pussycat
making things
signal processing

I make music and DJ, and I would like to bulk edit and search my media using my own criteria, especially when it comes to dealing with the crappy media metadata that other artists give me with their tracks. In general I am interested in managing the affiliated artwork and various media artefacts in bulk, en masse.

Still no-one agrees on how to do this, possibly because of the brief hegemony of iTunes, which did an adequate job of this before we realised that Apple were going to deprecate it.

There are many nerd feelings about this.

1 Linux tempo detection

This is not super hard, but a little esoteric. TODO: audition the following options

2 Musicbrainz Picard

The flagship Musicbrainz client is Picard which is quirky but effective online-DB-based analyzer (i.e. AFAICT it fingerprints your music and looks it up online rather than analyzing it using local machine-listening). If you are working with music that comes from real albums, this works pretty well.

3 beets

beets. A nerdy option that can do anything but might require hacking.

A python library: “The purpose of beets is to get your music collection right once and for all. It catalogs your collection, automatically improving its metadata as it goes using the MusicBrainz database. Then it provides a bouquet of tools for manipulating and accessing your music.” In particular, it organises and files music. Free, in every sense.

A gui cousin of beets is ex falso, the metadata managing end of Quod Libet, the media player. OTOH Ex Falso doesn’t seem to organise files for you.

4 Keyfinder

Keyfinder (maocs) is another analysis engine. Plush lookin’ (former) student project that classifies things by musical key, not to mention other the intermediate details; it can visualise chord structures, melodies and key changes too. Open-source. Free. There is also a command-line wrapper for easy bulk analysis.

5 beatunes

beatunes (USD35) is a GUI for tune analysis and automated playlisting with optional iTunes integration. It includes machine listening and online database-backed tunes identifcation techniques. It even has an API so you can load your own script in Java/Jpython/javascript.

6 Mp3tag

mp3tag (windows) has a similar feature set.

7 Mediamonkey

All-singing all-dancing media manager/player/playlister (windows). (Freemium, USD25)

8 Easytag

Easytag I think a linux/windows equivalent of the windows-only mp3tag?

EasyTAG is a utility for viewing and editing tags for MP3, MP2, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, Speex and Opus, MP4/AAC, MusePack, Monkey’s Audio and WavPack files. Its simple and nice GTK+ interface makes tagging easier under GNU/Linux or Windows.

Currently EasyTAG supports the following:

  • view, edit, write tags of MP3, MP2 files (ID3 tag with pictures), FLAC files (FLAC Vorbis tag), Ogg Vorbis, Speex and Opus files (Ogg Vorbis tag), MP4/AAC (MP4/AAC tag), MusePack, Monkey’s Audio and WavPack files (APE tag)
  • can edit more tag fields : Title, Artist, Album, Disc Album, Year, Track Number, Genre, Comment, Composer, Original Artist/Performer, Copyright, URL and Encoder name
  • auto tagging: parse filename and directory to complete automatically the fields (using masks)
  • ability to rename files and directories from the tag (using masks) or by loading a text file
  • process selected files of the selected directory
  • ability to browse subdirectories
  • recursion for tagging, removing, renaming, saving…

9 Yate

Yate was developed for people who are serious about tagging and organizing their audio files. The application was designed from the ground up for Mac users. It is a 100% Cocoa written application and uses its own tagging library. Yate will tag mp3, m4a, AIFF, wav, dsf and FLAC files.

Yate has a long list of features, including an innovative scripting system called actions. The app also supports integration with Discogs, MusicBrainz, AcoustID and iTunes.”


10 DIY

Minimal python script to do the job based on the python media metadata library mutagen.

11 Mediarage


A collection of powerful tools for media enthusiasts with a Macintosh using Mac OS X. Media Rage can read and write information stored in MP3, AAC/MP4, FLAC, AIFF, WAVE, BWF, and Ogg Vorbis audio files as well as EXIF (read only) tags in digital images. Media Rage can assist you in cataloging, organizing, sorting, and updating thousands of audio files with ease. (USD29.95)

I suspect it to be discontinued.

12 Managing and indexing samples

See sample management.