Squeezing the most out of the hard drive's music library
August 20, 2005 9:49 AM   Subscribe

Squeezing more juice out of the hard drive's music library Now that the hard drive has been filled,and my music has been rated/re-rated, and categorized/re-categorized, it's time to move on, so I went looking for online services that work with the music library . So far, I have found music sharing/new music discovery sites -last.fm , Goombah, and MusicStrands. Moodlogic automates playlists based on different song features - tempo, year, etc. What else is out there? How about song lyrics, biographies, discography, upcoming shows, upcoming new releases, similar artists, whenever an artist/song is playing? What else do you do with your music hard drive?
posted by Voyageman (34 comments total)
I... I just listen to the music.
posted by TwelveTwo at 9:51 AM on August 20, 2005

I'll resist complaining about how this seems more like a Ask Metafilter question, and instead complain about Moodlogic.

Around the time that Tivo's Home Media Option was introduced, Moodlogic was much-touted. Those who bought in at the beginning were promised a great, evolving product. Instead, the thing has become completely stagnant. It

s completely depressing to me that such a great idea has gone to waste -- it seems, ultimately, that this would have worked much better as a community project rather than a for-profit product whose long-term success depended solely on the free contributions of those who paid for the product.
posted by VulcanMike at 9:55 AM on August 20, 2005

Again I'd urge detractors to look at MeFi year one...

Thanks, Voyageman -- some services there I didn't know about. Which would you recommend?
posted by nthdegx at 10:07 AM on August 20, 2005

I once wrote a pseudo-AI based mp3 player in perl (a GTK based mpg123 front end) called smartplay. It tried to learn your moods by looking at what songs you listened to after which other songs. It also used a "playqueue" instead of playlists, i.e. it showed a list of the next 15-20 songs which it was going to play, and you could delete the ones you didn't want to listen to from that, so you'd get an hour or so of good music without having to skip stupid songs all the time.

But I eventually wanted a laptop with wireless, and thus bought a Mac. iTunes was inferior to my player for a very long time, but the recent party shuffle feature of iTunes is basically my playqueue. My "AI" never was very good, and my collection is only 30gigs, so it wasn't to hard to just rate all the songs.

My next music project is to: ditch my battery hobbled iPod in favor of a longer lasting player (without a HD), and to write an applescript to discover which songs I've been lisening to recently & then put those on the portable player. But I'm lazy and have papers to write.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:27 AM on August 20, 2005

Glad someone gave this a thumbs up. Thanks..... Last.fm and Musicstrands were neck and neck, but last.fm is moving ahead thanks to the plug-in (for all OS) that tracks every song played on both pc/mac and aggregates it into a personal statistics/charts page by artist/track by week/overall. Also seems to have a more complete web site and a larger music universe.
posted by Voyageman at 10:34 AM on August 20, 2005

On MusicStrands:

1. Speed Of Sound
by Coldplay
2. Fix You
by Coldplay
3. What If
by Coldplay

OK, that's not good. Interesting post, though.
posted by fungible at 10:40 AM on August 20, 2005

last.fm is pretty nice, and they recently rolled in AudioScrobbler (which was always built by the same people, running on the same servers). So there's a Metafilter group there -- you can listen to streaming radio of things that other MeFites like. *shudder*
posted by gleuschk at 10:42 AM on August 20, 2005

Another peice of software I would highly reccomend, especially to those still dealing with mislabeled or poorly labeled tracks is Musicbrainz. If a significant portion of your collection came from the internet and not from your ripped CDs, this is an invaluable resource. It goes through your folders and matches your tracks to the CDDB database and tags and renames them accordingly. Makes managing your collection much easier when you can actually find what you are looking for.
posted by sophist at 10:48 AM on August 20, 2005

The fat that the top 13 out of 20 songs on MusicStrands is Coldplay is kinda worrisome (nothing against Coldplay of course).

I'm hoping at least one of these links will lead to something better than Launch. If Yahoo REALLY wanted to support my audio addiction it would let me use Netscape to access it.
posted by Jenesta at 10:51 AM on August 20, 2005

I have several smartplaylists on iTunes that allow me to track songs I've been listening to fairly easily. But I need a bigger hard drive as well, between my mp3s and my photos now (you know how easy it is to use a gig with a 7 megapixel camera? waaaaay too easy).
posted by fenriq at 10:56 AM on August 20, 2005

My iPod is set up with a "required listening" of my current favourites, new acquistions etc, my podcasts (most recent two from my favourite shows -- there aren't many :/); and two smart playlists: 1 takes a random selection of 25 songs from my entire library, and there other takes a random selection of 100 songs rated **** or *****. Then when I hit shuffle, I find I get what I want to hear in roughly the right ratios: new stuff, old albums I think I should be listening to, and absolute classics.
posted by nthdegx at 11:08 AM on August 20, 2005

that MusicBrains is wonderful! thanks sophist! (it's ieatbrainz for mac)
posted by amberglow at 11:34 AM on August 20, 2005

Smart Playlists for Itunes
posted by Mroz at 11:41 AM on August 20, 2005

If you are prepared to beta test something (it works, but there are some teething problems) for iTunes, then drop me a line (it's not mine, I'll have to ask).

nthdegx, how? Sounds like there are secrets to the shuffle that have escaped me. How did you do that?
posted by grahamwell at 11:47 AM on August 20, 2005

You can do an amazing amount of stuff with Smart Playlists in iTunes. A simple example I find wonderful is a list of songs I rated highly but haven't listened to in at least 30 days. I'm also a fan of tagging music, which allows an infinite number of schemas for your music.

You can create really sophisticated behavior by using Playlists as input for other Playlists. I know people who create elaborate listening systems this way.

Hmm...this is an AskMe post isn't it.
posted by freebird at 12:17 PM on August 20, 2005

From the terms and conditions of Last.fm :

We will not email you crap or pass on your email address to anyone, not even Lars Ulrich at gunpoint.

I think I have found my new home...
posted by Jenesta at 1:03 PM on August 20, 2005

Here's a discussion about Winamp Media Library Views, the Winamp equivalent of smart playlists.
posted by muckster at 1:24 PM on August 20, 2005

I still use Launch once in a while but mainly for videos; I've switched 90% over to Last.fm.

Last.fm is the bomb, and they've recently relaunched (a few things are still iffy, just FYI -- which is after all a sign of active development). The new version includes song/album/artist tagging of the folksonomy/del.icio.us variety, permitting a new feature -- tag radio. Try chillout, for instance. Not to confuse the tags issue, but their music database is now integrated with MusicBrainz, so when your plug-in submits a track it tries to match it appropriately based on the submitted ID3. (Previously, a lot of the artist playlists were marred by inappropriate capitalization, inconsistent song titles, and completely wrong artist info.) I would say that Last.fm incorporates most of what makes MusicStrands and Goombah interesting, and it's able to play internet radio.

There are two features in particular I wish Last.fm (or anybody) did a little better: focus on one artist, with a smattering of related music (Launch does this), which would simplify experimentation; and better song-to-song transitions (XM radio, especially Fred, does this very well -- allegedly mainly by computer) based on tempo, mood, style, and so forth.

That's the same deficiency that bugs me the most about iTunes, although Party Shuffle is a very nice feature that I use frequently. I usually have it draw from my 4 & 5 star rated songs, but I might also set it to a playlist with other criteria. It's great that you can feed it songs dynamically, move things around while in the queue, or just leave it alone for a while.

If Yahoo REALLY wanted to support my audio addiction it would let me use Netscape to access it.

Jenesta: having seen what Last.fm went through to support a platform-independent browser-based music player, I can see why Yahoo doesn't go there. Heck, Launch's IE version goes haywire on me often enough.

jeffburdges: Interesting, there's a Winamp plugin called RoboDJ that is also stagnant. I wonder why nobody's trying to do this anymore (other than that it's hard).

You can create really sophisticated behavior by using Playlists as input for other Playlists. I know people who create elaborate listening systems this way.

I did not know that. This may just change my life.

Voyageman: Looks like it's staying, but this was a poor post for the blue.
posted by dhartung at 2:15 PM on August 20, 2005

It's painful to listen to music without imms.
posted by cytherea at 2:23 PM on August 20, 2005

I posted some thoughts on how I run my iTunes library Here, and while it is a little labor-intensive, I think it works really well.

Basically I use the "Comments" portion of the ID3 tag (and in iTunes) to give Moods, Themes and Styles to each of my songs. The link explains it with lots of examples and screenshots.

Note: I am not selling anything.

Also, there are *rumors* of AllMusic.com creating a track-based playlisting system where individual songs would have Styles, Moods, Themes, Tempos, and instrumentation profiled on them and some sort of clever interface could potentially allow you to dial up all of the songs in your collection that are considered "Summertime" songs, or "British Invasion" tunes that are "Introspective" and "Cathartic"...could be very cool.
posted by .:DataWhat?:. at 3:31 PM on August 20, 2005

sophist: THANK YOU for musicbrainz! I've been waiting for a tool like that!
posted by Mach5 at 4:07 PM on August 20, 2005

I would just like to reiterate the value of Last.fm. The Audioscrobbler portion - the part that tracks everything you listen to and makes recommendations based on comparing your profile to other users - is responsible for introducing me to a LOT of new music. I'd guess almost half of what I listen to on a regular basis was from artists that were recommended to me on there - combine that with exposure to new music from Last.fm, and you've got a wonderful, free service that is great for music fans.

And since the effort to use the site is very minimal - register for an account, download a plugin, and forget about it - it's hard to understand why anyone would choose to pass it by if they listen to music on their computer, and are interested in finding new music.
posted by evilangela at 4:13 PM on August 20, 2005

I stopped using last.fm when I realized that it didn't recognize a large portion of what I listen to.

Plus the plugin would occasionally crash my player on bad ID3 tags (nor was I able to force it to use ID3v1, and not v2).
posted by kenko at 5:00 PM on August 20, 2005

I stopped using Moodlogic when I switched to Mac. It was --- back in the day --- useful for cleaning up songs I acquired from the original Napster and creating playlists. It seems to be almost the same product I used pre-iPod.

I'll check out last.fm and musicbrainz though. I want to clean up the genres to be a bit more than "Rock" or "Alternative" or "Electronica". I hope the *rumors* are true about allmusic's playlist making abilities come true. I've cut & paste the genre's and moods into a handful of songs, but to do it to 30GB of songs would be muy time consuming.

I'm notoriously bad at rating my songs. Maybe 10% of them are starred.
posted by birdherder at 7:14 PM on August 20, 2005

"nthdegx, how? Sounds like there are secrets to the shuffle that have escaped me. How did you do that?"

It's not the shuffle that's the key: it's using smart playlists to control what's on your iPod that's the key. I honestly believe that iPod naysayers haven't mastered the iTunes iPod interface when they claim other machines out-spec the iPod. There's more to the equation than battery-life and storage space.

If I haven't covered your query, can you respond more specifically?
posted by nthdegx at 7:18 PM on August 20, 2005

I'm still sorting through my music with MusicBrainz.
posted by CG at 7:40 PM on August 20, 2005

Another goody (though not free) is Predixis' MusicMagic Mixer which does a pretty good job of selecting tracks that should go together... Initial analysis is a bitch though...
posted by benzo8 at 8:01 PM on August 20, 2005

I don't care if this post is an AskMe question. I want to lick it all over. If anything, this is an example of healthy bleed over.

Thank you.
posted by loquacious at 11:52 PM on August 20, 2005

I use iTunes party shuffle, set to play higher rated songs more often at home. I broadcast same, with Nicecast, here. It's nice to have a random playlist you can then tinker with-- add to, subtract from, 100 songs long.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:03 PM on August 21, 2005

It's painful to listen to music without imms.

No windows port, unfortunately. I've been looking for something like this forever!
posted by gd779 at 5:33 PM on August 21, 2005

It is a thing of luminal beauty. There is always cygwin, but on the links page they mention Synapse for Windows which apparently does much of the same thing. But that moodlogic thing creeps me out. I suppose it isn't that much worse than google, and I'm being irrational, but I would kind of prefer that my taste in music not be in a corporate database.

What I'd really like is a portable player with something like imms on it. Random shuffle is so unpleasant.
posted by cytherea at 6:53 PM on August 21, 2005

It looks like there is some kind of Musicbrainz / Audioscrobbler collaboration in the works (scroll down). This could be good.
posted by sophist at 12:00 AM on August 22, 2005

I used to run a little icecast station to share crap with irc people then, after very little sleep at a lan party with said irc'ers, it seemed a good idea to let other people make suggestions (or requests if you will) from my rather extensive library. Turns out ices (the 'default' content provider for the icecast server) has an option by which you can get the next item in a playlist from a script. A little perl, a couple db table, a cron job to check for current listeners (for an accounting scheme to prevent abuse) and a little php end and I was able to get my friends to do the dirty work of choosing the playlist for me.

Once there got to be several hundred requests I found with some tuned sql and a little data mining that it wasn't hard to get it to request tunes, when the pending list was empty, that had a 1/2 decent chance of not sucking. To this day when I go travelling the portable audio player de jour usually has a slightly pruned list of the top 200 or so radio requests for the unlikely occasion when the audiobooks might run out.
posted by mce at 12:20 AM on August 22, 2005

the beauty of 'scrobbler is not the top 10 tracks of the week, unless you like top 40 radio music. get the plug-in, play a bunch of music, forget about it for a month or two and let it build up a good amount of data on your tastes. then go back and find people it reccomends for you, new artists, and groups of similar listeners, and see what they are listening to. it is a great way to discover new artists. that and AMG.
posted by sophist at 12:30 AM on August 22, 2005

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