iTunes is far from perfect, but again, it is the best application I found so far. One of the most annoying is that lack of styles in it but never mind, lets go back to the story. I bought most of the music I have from iTunes Store but yet, not every single album can be found. So If I can’t find it there, I go to Amazon. And if I can’t find it in Amazon?
Well, for that I go to the unofficial channels offered by the Internet, second hand stores mostly. Lets face it, even then not every album can be found, and lets be honest, a lot of people won’t bother to rip or buy their loved music. As far as I’m aware, Torrents are today the main and most useful way to spread files around the world.
Now we face few problems,first, again, as far as I’m aware, iTunes organize the library by the metadata of the files, I’m not sure if it can be changed or not and I don’t know how Windows or Android organize their libraries. I do know that in my very old MP3 player it used the file and library names. And even so, some files might just laying around without even a library, or in the wrong library.
Anyway, many of the files you might download from a torrent will have incorrect metadata, no album arts, no album names, artists, etc. For iTunes and the random album smartplay list it creates a problem and the library will become one big mess very fast. You can of course start changing it manually, it will probably takes forever when the library is huge. Lets take for example a torrent of Jethro Tull running around, some albums are <unknown> tracks, caps lock when aren’t needed, no album arts at all, some album is divided to 5 parts, no years, and some tracks are on the wrong place or just sitting alone without album.
What if I’ll tell you there’s an easier and much faster way? well, there is one. It’s called MusicBrainz Picard, this application works on Linux, OSX and Windows. It use a community based database, everyone can contribute to it, you can find many albums there (so far I only found one missing album art of AC/DC it’s fine now, I contributed) and it is very easy to use. The instruction on the website pretty much tells you what to do.
After using this application, the albums now have the correct metadata, the albums are organized well, songs are in the right position, tracks are listed, album arts, release dates, everything is fixed. That Jethro Tull album became “A” from 1980 with two extra tracks in the wrong library.
So now, not only I found out how to create the smart list I want, I was also able to fix all the bad metadata, as iTunes doesn’t care about the library structure or file names, I don’t even care how they’re organized. It will still take some time to fix the entire library, but it will go much faster now.
Just a request, if you share music, at least make the small effort and fix the metadata or go large and set the files right.