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hopkins

Your music cataloging "system"

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Posted (edited)

I am curious to understand what "system", if any, people are using to catalog their music collection. 

Unlike many of you, certainly, I am a relative newcomer to jazz. I fell in love with Ellington roughly 15 years ago and have since progressively expanded my horizon. I now have roughly 1500 albums/box sets, mostly CDs but also files purchased online (which unfortunately often lack credit/liner notes). My collection is rapidly growing as i discover more music. 

I rip all my CDs, so my music collection is all stored on my computer (with backups of course).

I started using Discogs "collections" to list all my albums but soon found out that:

- some albums were missing from Discogs and adding them was very tedious

- the credits entered on Discogs are often lacking, and the fact that the credits cannot be organized by "session" makes them unreadable (extreme case being large Mosaic box sets). 

- use of notes/comments is very limited

I mostly download album covers from the web.

I "document" credits, and store notes and interesting reviews in text files which i keep in each album's folder on my computer, and have a system in place to search through them.

I rarely go through the physical copies of my CDs (aside for Mosaic booklets). I sometimes scan the liner notes and store them as PDFs as well, or download them from the web when i can find them. 

This all takes time, but having credits readily available is a must. Having comments is also useful, for refence, and to identify noteworthy albums or tracks, as i simply cannot memorize all this information. 

I have not yet decided how/where to store and organize information i collect on artists (bios, pictures, articles...). 

So i was curious to understand what others are doing...

Not sure this is the right sub-forum to address this, but no other category seemed to fit. 

Edited by hopkins

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I've concerted my entire collection to my PC and store each CD/Album on to external drives. I have a backup of each drive. I had one die and I had to redo a ton. While redoing it, my CD-ROM drive died. I am using iTunes to track everything. I keep a quite a bit of information, besides session and musician/Band. I can then export a report to MS Excel. I can sort on various fields.  

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Posted (edited)

Thanks. Can you give me an example (screen copy, if possible) to show the information you store on iTunes, just to see how it looks ?

EDIT: looked on the web - you enter this information as metadata by track ?

Also, found this interesting point of view on the challenges of using iTunes for Jazz: http://www.harlem.org/itunes/

What's your experience ?

Edited by hopkins

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I catalogue all my CDs alphabetically in a Word document, except for Mosaics and box sets.  I started doing this because I wound up buying some duplicates. I don’t rip my albums to iTunes or any other online medium; I prefer the hard stuff.

I use Discogs for my rock collection, as it’s infinitely smaller (only about 300 CDs and LPs) than my Jazz collection . It was a little time consuming when I first did it but found it useful. If they don’t have a particular version, you can input your own; I’ve done this on a couple of occasions. 

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Posted (edited)

 I used Discogs for a while and did end up adding a few "releases". Identifying duplicates is useful - Discogs is good with that if all the data is entered. You can search a track title + artist + year and it will quickly find the corresponding albums. Their database is impressive in terms of releases.

One thing I do is synchronize my folders to Google Drive. The search works on the content of the documents, including images and pdfs which automatically go through OCR, with variable results of course. Serves as a backup as well - probably more costly than a local backup though. Searching using Google Drive is not optimal, however, and it is sonetimes hard to make sense of the results. 

Edited by hopkins

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45 minutes ago, hopkins said:

 I used Discogs for a while and did end up adding a few "releases". Identifying duplicates is useful - Discogs is good with that if all the data is entered. You can search a track title + artist + year and it will quickly find the corresponding albums. Their database is impressive in terms of releases.

 

I've even found soloists listed in Discogs. (Well, only once so far--  for The Complete Norman Granz Jam Sessions).  

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I’ve been using Collectorz successfully for a decade now. Have the mobile app as well. Easiest and most aesthetically pleasing option I’ve found. 

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Trying to catalog my CD's in an excel spreadsheet, but life keeps getting in the way of the work I want to do with my collection.   I was looking forward to eventually getting time enough in retirement in a few years, but it hasn't been a great couple of weeks on that front, either!

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6 hours ago, jcam_44 said:

I’ve been using Collectorz successfully for a decade now. Have the mobile app as well. Easiest and most aesthetically pleasing option I’ve found. 

Thanks, will test it out. 

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I was fortunate that I started keeping word document lists of my jazz CDs, LPs and videos (DVDs + VHS) a couple of decades ago, before the collection got anywhere near the size it is today. I have been using Discogs for a few years, though it is a pain when a particular version of a CD or LP is not listed there and it can be time consuming to enter the data, especially in the case of a boxed set or anthology. 

I've never had the least interest in backing up hard copies to computers or portable hard drives. It's more fun looking over the shelves to find something to play. Everything is alphabetized by artist, by label within each artist, then in the order of catalog number.

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2 hours ago, hopkins said:

Thanks, will test it out. 

Took it for a spin - barcode entry is great (for CDs), and picks up basic information (tracks, artist, album art). Don't see how to enter detailed credits, which is something I care about.

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22 minutes ago, hopkins said:

Took it for a spin - barcode entry is great (for CDs), and picks up basic information (tracks, artist, album art). Don't see how to enter detailed credits, which is something I care about.

detailed info is there for sure.you can enter where you purchase, how much, musicians, where recorded etc etc. Might not be available for free but it does all kinds of stuff. I can tell you how many albums I have with Vinny Golia playing on it with a couple clicks in the statistics field. 83 of the 1807 albums I own only behind William Parker who is on 84.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Cool, will dig further. EDIT: on the Windows version I can enter credits, but not by "session".

Edited by hopkins

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Posted (edited)

You can use barcode entry in Discogs. I looked at Collectorz and what I like is that you it can scan a barcode. You can’t do that with Discogs. I may gave it a try. 

Edited by Brad

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Does the free version of Collectroz have limits that will force you to buy it eventually? Like time usage, number of titles, etc.?

JRiver (https://jriver.com/index.html) used to be the best cataloging/ripping/playing music app out there. Unfortunately, it's $60 per PC or $80 for a "master" license.

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I've been using Music Collectorz for 15 years now, and can recommend it - with some reservations. There are some unfortunate quirks - e.g. when loading new albums multiple artists are loaded as one single artist. You have to correct this manually. This is not a big deal, but it is annoying. You can enter credits (e.g. "musicians", recording dates, studio information, composers, whatever) - down to a track level (i.e. each track can have different credits) but not all of them will be be displayed. Only the "album-level" credits are (with few exceptions), the rest might stay "under the hood" (depending on the interface you use). Track-level credits are still searchable, though. I will actually ask them to consider adding view-able track-level musician credits. 

Another annoying idiosyncrasy is album recording date. You can enter only one date per album. Again, if you really want to you can enter individual recording date for every track but you still have to enter some - one only - value on the album level. I have a little workaround where can enter a range (e.g. "1961-63") and this will be recognized for sorting purposes, but it is not ideal. 

But otherwise, it's still probably the best option available. There are many sorting options, entry is flexible, you can make linkes to your files, adding new images works well, etc. The support team is excellent and is responding very fast. Some of my change requests were implemented over the years.                

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1 hour ago, Д.Д. said:

I've been using Music Collectorz for 15 years now, and can recommend it - with some reservations. There are some unfortunate quirks - e.g. when loading new albums multiple artists are loaded as one single artist. You have to correct this manually. This is not a big deal, but it is annoying. You can enter credits (e.g. "musicians", recording dates, studio information, composers, whatever) - down to a track level (i.e. each track can have different credits) but not all of them will be be displayed. Only the "album-level" credits are (with few exceptions), the rest might stay "under the hood" (depending on the interface you use). Track-level credits are still searchable, though. I will actually ask them to consider adding view-able track-level musician credits. 

Another annoying idiosyncrasy is album recording date. You can enter only one date per album. Again, if you really want to you can enter individual recording date for every track but you still have to enter some - one only - value on the album level. I have a little workaround where can enter a range (e.g. "1961-63") and this will be recognized for sorting purposes, but it is not ideal. 

But otherwise, it's still probably the best option available. There are many sorting options, entry is flexible, you can make linkes to your files, adding new images works well, etc. The support team is excellent and is responding very fast. Some of my change requests were implemented over the years.                

Are you using the paid version or is there a free version?

The reason I asked is because I once downloaded and started working with one of these tools and after I entered about 50 CDs worth of data, it stopped allowing any more entries. I get it if that's the way it works. I am just curious if Coeectorz is like that or if there is a reduced-functionality free version. When I try the free version of an app, I like to really test it out before I buy.

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When it comes to certain Japanese CDs, it has quirks. It will upload basic information as artist, title and name of song but not the album cover or the length of the songs. Of course, you can fix that yourself but it’s a bit more time consuming. Right now, we all have a lot of time :lol:

2 minutes ago, bresna said:

Are you using the paid version or is there a free version?

The reason I asked is because I once downloaded and started working with one of these tools and after I entered about 50 CDs worth of data, it stopped allowing any more entries. I get it if that's the way it works. I am just curious if Coeectorz is like that or if there is a reduced-functionality free version. When I try the free version of an app, I like to really test it out before I buy.

You have a free trial period of seven days. After that, payment kicks in unless you terminate. It’s $15 per year, which seems reasonable. 

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5 minutes ago, Brad said:

You have a free trial period of seven days. After that, payment kicks in unless you terminate. It’s $15 per year, which seems reasonable. 

That being the case, I'd still probably go with JRiver, as it doubles as an audiophile ripper & player and not simply a cataloging app. At $60, it pays for itself in year 5 or using Collectorz.

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Posted (edited)

13 minutes ago, bresna said:

Are you using the paid version or is there a free version?

The reason I asked is because I once downloaded and started working with one of these tools and after I entered about 50 CDs worth of data, it stopped allowing any more entries. I get it if that's the way it works. I am just curious if Collectorz is like that or if there is a reduced-functionality free version. When I try the free version of an app, I like to really test it out before I buy.

The paid one. I think the free version is a full-functionality one, just limited to number of entries.  

11 minutes ago, Brad said:

When it comes to certain Japanese CDs, it has quirks. It will upload basic information as artist, title and name of song but not the album cover or the length of the songs. Of course, you can fix that yourself but it’s a bit more time consuming. Right now, we all have a lot of time :lol:

Yes, it will not always load the exact version of your CD. Or it might not have your CD in their database at all. They are now loading initial data from Discogs (it used to be other sources), so if the catalog number or the bar code you enter matches the Discogs data it would load the basic data (not credits) from the specific Discogs entry. If you add new album with just artist and title it will give you multiple versions of the album to choose from. 

I asked them to automatically add a Discogs link to every newly-added album, they said "they would think about it".   

You can read the CD itself - you would then have the tracks' length.  

Edited by Д.Д.

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My list sorted by album title. I have over 30 fields. 

Album-titlle.jpg

 

 

 

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I use an excel spread-sheet for my 4,000 CD/CDR collection. I can sort by Artist, Title, Label. For liner notes, etc I have to go to my shelves. Other than excel I have not downloaded any thing to hard drives, etc.

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Posted (edited)

54 minutes ago, Stonewall15 said:

I use an excel spread-sheet for my 4,000 CD/CDR collection. I can sort by Artist, Title, Label. For liner notes, etc I have to go to my shelves. Other than excel I have not downloaded any thing to hard drives, etc.

For a while i was purchasing a lot of files for download (bandcamp, qobuz, storyville, etc) and its a mixed blessing. I regret doing so now, as i don't have the liner notes. With some exceptions, I now generally purchase physical CDs. 

Edited by hopkins

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I just use an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of titles in my collection. Very basic:  Artist name. Title. Label. Format (CD, LP, DL). Notes. That's it.

Typically, I'll rip new CDs when I get them.  Usually 320 bit-rate MP3s. 

Formerly, I uploaded all of music files to Amazon, but they stopped offering the service allowing you to upload files that you didn't buy thru them.  Fortunately, the vast majority of my collection is already "out there" and remains accessible.  So, as long as I'm connect to the internet, I can listen anywhere via their music player app.

I've also got all of my digital files -- both downloads (mostly from emusic.com) and music that I've ripped from CDs -- on two separate external HDs.

Since I can't upload to Amazon anymore, I recently bought a 400GB micro-SD card for my phone.  After I buy a new CD, I rip it and then copy it to the card on the phone.  So the new stuff isn't on the internet.  But that's O.K.  In fact, it's nice because I can listen regardless of whether I'm connected to the internet.  Especially nice for times like camping and such.  You can put a LOT of titles on a 400GB card, even if you rip at a high bit rate.  And it's amazing how inexpensive storage is these days.  I paid something like $60 for it.

I suppose I veered off-course a bit, and took us down a trail that the OP didn't ask about.  Oh well.  Hope that's O.K. ;-)   

 

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I keep everything in iTunes (MacOS version).  I've ripped all of my CDs, have all my downloads there, and have ripped my LPs to there.  I've accommodated iTunes's idiosyncrasies, such as alphabetizing artists by first name.  I also understand its limitations: when I dealt with physical LPs and CDs I used to file a particular artist's albums chronologically, now it's alphabetically by album title.  I can live with that.  When I really want to sort chronologically, I put the recording date first in the album title field.  Example: I wanted to sort all of Coltrane's live dates chronologically, so the Pablo box "Live Trane - The European Tours" is now 11 different albums, with titles such as "1961/11/23: Stockholm, Set #1 (Live Trane)," "1961/11/23: Stockholm, Set #2 (Live Trane)," "1962/02/09: Birdland, NYC (Live Trane)," etc.

Discographical data mostly goes in the "comments" field: musicians, instruments, recording date, and anything else that might be relevant, such as provenance ("Ripped from LP," "D/L from eMusic," etc.). This approach becomes problematic if there are too many musicians, such as in a big band.  In those cases, I enter the data in the "Lyrics" tab, which must be entered per song, not per album.

I download album art from Discogs, Amazon, or other sites...I just do a web search.  I long ago admitted to myself that I rarely read liner notes more than once, and almost never read box set booklets, so I forego those.  If necessary, most albums have a Wikipedia page, which will tell me what I need to know.

With a Mosaic box or similar, I generally separate the tracks by their original albums, and replace the Mosaic album name with the original album names.

I rip using Apple Lossless, just to prepare against future obsolescence.  I have a wireless music system throughout my house, using Airport Expresses and Apple TVs with various powered speakers or mini systems.  It's all controlled through my iMac, with an external hard drive holding my music files.  I can use the Remote app on my iPhone to direct music throughout the house: turn nodes on or off, control volume, etc.  I also have an Airport Express connected to a DAC on my main stereo, and listening to Apple Lossless files is identical to listening to a CD.

I automatically back up every night to a second EHD using Super Duper software.  Once a month, I back up to a portable EHD, which I keep in a separate room.  Twice a year, I back up to a different portable EHD, which I keep in a remote location.

About a month ago, my main EHD began to fail.  I moved all the music files to a new EHD.  This is actually not an easy thing to do: it must be done in a particular way, in a particular order, or you can lose a lot of the data you've entered into iTunes.  If you have a sizable collection, it can also take you the better part of a day to complete.  So it is hair-raising, and not something I enjoy doing, but at the end of the day the tracks were moved successfully.

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