MisTagged Music

2011-03-31

Over the years I’ve acquired a rather large music collection of about 100GB or 17000 files. Unfortunately a lot of these are badly labelled and categorised.

Music files such as MP3 have the option to store so-called “metadata” or (information/data about data) which describes the music stored within the same file. This is the so-called id3 tagging system. When you rip a music CD you can lookup the track numbers and names with a service such as CDDB and then write this information within the file.

This is useful, but sometimes you get incorrect or incomplete info back or the information stored in your local copies gets corrupt over various backups and moving from place to place. That is where a service like TuneUp comes into play.

TuneUp is “Quite possibly the most important piece of software any music lover can buy.” –uncrate

This downloadable program for Windows and Mac scans the files you point it to for a digital fingerprint that allows it to uniquely identify the piece of music contained within. To achieve this, TuneUp will actually “listen” to your music rather than rely on metadata such as the id3 tags or filename.

I’ve used this tool to scan my own music collection and it reports that as much as 75% of my metadata is incorrect or missing. I am now slowly going through my entire collection with TuneUp, again, in clean mode rather than scan mode and am getting it to retag as much of my music as it can recognise. This is a tedious process, however, as sometimes it can get a completely different track than the one you’re relabelling; which means that it requires a bit of babysitting, but the amount of time and energy saving is still considerable, especially for larger collections or those that are wildly mislabelled.