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Digital Audio Essentials by Bruce Fries, Marty Fries

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Organizing Your Music

Jukebox programs use databases that allow you to organize and access your music collection in many different ways. For example, you can browse your collection by artist to display all songs by a particular artist, regardless of the genre, or you can browse by genre to display all songs within a certain genre, regardless of the artist.

In addition to the music, each audio file can contain metadata (related information, such as the song title, artist name, and album title). The place in the file where the metadata is stored is called a tag (see the “Metadata Tags” sidebar). The tag contains a field for each category of information (artist, album, etc.).

When you import songs into a jukebox program, metadata from each file’s tag is read and stored in a database, which is called a music (or media) library. The fields from the tags are displayed as columns and/or folders that allow you to sort and browse the library. The music library contains additional metadata, such as the last time the song was played, that is not stored in the file’s tag. Optional fields, such as rating, tempo, and mood, often exist in the library database, but not in the tags of individual songs.

Warning

Jukebox programs automatically add additional metadata (such as how many times each song has been played) to the music library database. This information is not stored within each song, so if you switch jukebox programs you will not have access to it.

Sorting

To sort your music in any jukebox program, simply click on a column label in the music library. The songs will automatically be sorted by that criterion. To sort the same column in reverse order, click on its label a second time. To add or remove columns, right-click (PC) or control-click (Mac) on any column label and check the columns you want displayed.

To quickly jump to the entries in the sort column that begin with a certain character, just press that key on your keyboard. For example, if your sort column is Artist, typing “G” will take you to the section of the list where the artist name begins with the letter G—i.e., songs by Garth Brooks, Green Day, etc. Note that with some programs, you must first highlight one entry in the list before you type the character.

Searching

All the jukebox programs covered in this chapter include a simple search feature. Both iTunes and Media Jukebox have a search box near the top of the library window. To display the search box in Musicmatch, click the “Find Tracks” button. To search for songs, simply type in a value (rock, love, dance, etc.). In iTunes and Media Jukebox, the search begins as soon as you start typing. In Musicmatch, you need to click “Go” after you type the search term. The list of songs displayed will be limited to songs that contain the search term in any field. For example, the search term “rock” would display songs that contain that word in the title or artist name, plus any song with “rock” in the genre field (e.g., rock, classic rock, or alternative rock).

Browsing

Browsing works differently in each jukebox program. It helps to think of each column or folder in the jukebox’s library as a filter that progressively narrows the list of songs. Following are some tips.

iTunes

The iTunes jukebox program allows you to easily browse your music collection by information such as artist, genre, and album (Figure 4-2). The values displayed in the first three columns are obtained from the metadata tag of each song. Values in the Play Count and Last Played columns are generated by iTunes. To browse the iTunes music library, click the Library icon in the Source pane of the main window. If you see only the list of songs in the Library, click the “Browse” button or press Control-B to display the iTunes Browser in the top half of the library pane. The “All” choice at the top of any column means that particular filter is not active.

Browsing in iTunes

Figure 4-2. Browsing in iTunes

The easiest way to browse is to start with “All” selected for each column, and then work your way from left to right. To narrow the list to a specific genre, select a value in the Genre column (see Figure 4-2). To further narrow the list, make a selection in the Artist column. The list of songs displayed in the bottom pane will include only those that match both the genre and artist. To display all songs by a particular artist, click “All” in the Genre column before you select the artist. Making a selection in the Album column further narrows the list.

At any point, you can select from the songs listed in the bottom pane to play them or add them to a playlist. To display all songs, select “All” at the top of each column.

Media Jukebox

To browse the Media Jukebox library, click the plus sign to the left of the Media Library icon. Several choices will appear. To browse by Genre, click the plus sign next to that choice and select a genre from the list. To further narrow the list, select an Artist, and then an Album. To display all songs by a particular artist, use the “Artist/Album” choice. To display all songs in the library, click the Media Library icon.

Musicmatch

To browse the music library in Musicmatch, click the “View Library by” button on the left, just above the Library window. You can view tracks grouped according to various criteria, such as artist, album, genre, and so on. For example, if you choose “View By Artist,” a list of all the artists will appear. To display all the tracks for a specific artist, in the Library window, click the plus sign next to the artist’s name. To display the songs in the library in one long list, choose “View All Tracks.” To play all songs for an artist, right-click the artist’s name in the Library window and choose “Play Now.” The tracks will be added to the playlist window at the top and the first track will begin playing.

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