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iTunes Music - for Kleptomaniacs and Neat Freaks alike


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So I'm obsessed. I want my iTunes collection to be nothing less than immaculate. But I refuse to throw anything away. And sometimes the tunes that I import, the tags are all over the place!

iTunes fixed my preliminary problems with tags being filled in correctly years ago, Winamp displayed tags but tools to enter and fix them were hard to come by. Certainly didn't do what I wanted them to do... being a Mac guy at heart, I jumped onto the iTunes bandwagon as soon as I could, and loved it form the start. Integrated library and file system management, playlists, tagging where I could select multiples and correct a bunch of misspelled, misaligned and obtusely entered artist, albums, and genres. But my library bloated, and I now have almost 40,000 tracks, and they're mostly complete.


Scattered through the collection are Soundtracks that aren't marked as compilations, there are Mix CD's that are marked for the year the CD was released, not the year the track was mastered. and I generally have a problem with songs that I don't particularly want to listen to. But I refuse to delete them, what it I want to burn that album for someone and I have done and deleted track 11? Going to the Internet and trying to find out what track 11 was is far too much effort. So going through my library and unchecking duplicates, leaving only the most superior track checked on; this is really time consuming!


As an effort for iTunes to only play the songs I really want to hear, I have made a substantial effort to Ratings. the new iTunes 8 "Genius" feature moved me to almost 20% of the collection rated with just the click of a few buttons, and around four weeks of listening! By creating a Genius list of 100 tracks of one of my five-star rated songs, based on the general iTunes populations ratings of other songs I have in my collection, Genius suggests that these 99 tracks are about the same as that one... giving me a statistically better chance of liking those 99 tracks. Now at time of writing it is very genre biased, I like a extermely wide range of tracks from some 70's ballads, 80's rock, 90's Ambience, and new millenium House. So for a selection of each of my five-star rated tracks, it takes a while to sample, decide, and rate all the songs that it suggests, but I have a good feeling about it.


And again I harp on about beaTunes, the iTunes Library parasite of the best sorts, a plugin .app that takes your iTunes Library .xml and imports the data, looks at the MP3, calculates and manipulates all that information that you already have there, and tells you in a nice enormous table of information, what the Beats-per-minute are, what "color" the song is, and based on a checksum of the track, hits the web to decide whether I have named it right, and does it have the correct album! All this for the price of a slab of beer!


So that's how my iTunes is going. It works just so much better on Mac than on Windows (surprise surprise), I just think they're trying to do too much with it now, being the docking point for phones, speakers, ipods... I'm worried that it's not actually putting all the data I enter into the ID3 tags that I have so religiously made version 2.3 (car stereo manufacturers will only guarantee v.2.3, not 2.4) Because everytime I export a bunch of my tunes to Data Disk to put on my laptop for work hours, there are tracks named something wierd, and the tags don't import into the laptops iTunes. Next thing for beaTunes to check! Does MP3 track ID3 tag match iTunes Library... last time I tried something like this, yeah, a bunch of them were wrong, and I made changes to something... but it didn't write all the information to the MP3, it managed to alienate iTunes in the process and I had three-quarters of my iTunes Music Library "missing" in iTunes and I had to re-import it all, losing my plast played, most played, and ratings! But this is years ago.


In an effort to protect against losing ratings, these days my iTunes lives with five Smart Playlists. "1 Star" "2 Stars" "3 Stars" "4 Stars" "5 Stars". And I export this as a song-list to transport to my Laptop occasionally, and vice-versa from the laptop, I alter ratings during work hours, and so I review the differences when I reimport "5 Starts - Laptop" into my main PC, I'll see what on the PC was rated 3 or 4, and now i've increased it to 5... see whether it deserves it or whether it was a moment of lust that got it 5 star rating on the laptop. etc. It's a labour of love, some people have cars, others have cats, some people have wives, others have sport... I have my music.

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