My post ‘Tidy Up iTunes MP3 Collection’ is now nearly two years old, yet it is still one of the most popular posts each month. Given the mess that iTunes made of my iTunes library when I installed Vista I’ve had a lot of time to update my tagging methods.
My method below may seem a bit long-winded, but it is foolproof and creates nice and tidy mp3 tracks that will work perfectly with all mp3 applications, including iTunes.
Step 1 Tagging
Even if your tracks have been imported directly from CD, the ID3 tags can still contain errors; especially if you are importing old CDs or non-mainstream CDs. In the past I used to use MusicBrainz Tagger to identify albums, but now I use MusicBrainz’s new tool, Picard. The updated Picard tool uses the same mechanism as the old Tagger app to identify albums, but it is much faster and easier to use.
What Musicbrainz Picard does is scan your music files and uses any existing tags to identify tracks. For files that Picard doesn’t recognize, it submits ‘acoustic fingerprints’ (TRM ids) of the files back to the server and asks the user to manually edit the track information or to add that particular album manually to the database, so that the next time someone uses the tool these tracks will be identified.Before using Picard I’d recommend changing the following settings in the Options:
- go to ‘Audio Fingerprinting’ and check ‘Automatically analyze all new files’
- go to ‘Tags’ and uncheck ‘Write ID3v1 tags to MP3 files (ID3v2 tags will always be written)’, and Check ‘clear existing tags before writing new tags’ and ‘Write ID3v2 version 2.3 tags’. This is important as I’ve found it’s not good to have multiple tags included within files e.g. APE, ID3v1 etc and also because I’ve found iTunes has problems sometimes with ID3 v2.4 tags
- If you are tagging files you haven’t added to your music library yet then it can be helpful in ‘directories’ to check ‘move tagged files to this directory’ and create a create a directory called ‘Tagged Music’ so you know which files you’ve tagged and are now ready for importing
Now that Picard is setup, drag your files of complete folders onto the ‘New files’ folder. Once Picard has finished anlaysing files click on the ‘Cluster’ icon in the toolbar to group mp3 files into albums, and Picard will then walk you through tagging files based on the matches it finds. To learn more about using Picard click here.
Once I’ve finished identifying and tagging my files in Picard, I tend to have a quick check to see that all is well using mp3tag. With mp3tag I can check that musicBrainz has only written ID3v2.3 tags which offer the maximum compatibility, and removed all other tags. I can also quickly browse all the various tag info that has been written and correct any typos, capitalisation problems and other errors.