Sunday, August 26, 2012

Music Organization Issues

Having mono and not being able to run or do much of anything else has given me the opportunity to address my iTunes Music Library issues. I've been meaning to tackle this project for a long time now, but I've never had the time. Just this weekend, I've spent over five hours doing this. Not to mention time spent in previous weekends.

The problem: I had a computer virus back in 2009, which caused me to lose a large chunk of my songs. Many were backed up to "the cloud" but many were not. The problem was identifying which ones were lost, if I had them backed up on data CD's anywhere (I used to play MP3 CD's in my car), or if I would need to re-download them. I have an iPod with most of the songs on it, but I have never been able to figure out how to transfer songs from an iPod back to a computer. So the process is going through the iPod, song by song, to see which ones are not on the computer.

To complicate matters, I got a new computer back in May and not all songs made the transfer. It took me several tries to get what I thought was all of them, but now I am noticing I am missing some songs that were on that old computer. It sounds straightforward-- just copy everything over. But for some reason, it just was not that easy. Part of the problem was that my music was stored all over the place, not just in "my music". I've been using my computer to store music since 1999, before iTunes and before computers were really setup that way. So stuff is scattered.

Another problem: I would really like my iTunes library to have the correct album and year for each song. The year is very important because songs represent eras in my life. I organize my physical CD collection by date, so it's like a timeline of my life. Related to this, I would like accurate play count data. The 2009 virus wiped out everything, so I had to start from scratch. But then for awhile I couldn't properly sync my iPods because they had pre-virus music on them, so no play counts were being recorded. Accurate play count data is important because it tells me how obsessed I was with each song. Unfortunately, the data has just started to become accurate this year as I begin to address these issues.

My time on this music project has been spent:

  • Going to Wikipedia to verify album title and release date
  • Entering that data into iTunes
  • Uploading songs from regular CD's and MP3 CD's 
  • Managing duplicates
  • Going through the iPod to see which songs are missing from the computer
  • Going to to purchase songs that are missing (and I have made the mistake twice of buying songs and then finding them just minutes later! Very frustrating.)
  • My music library is too large for my 16G Nano, and they don't make them larger, so figuring out what songs I want on the Nano.
Throughout this process I have run into so many iTunes problems like "you aren't authorized on this computer" for stuff I bought through iTunes years ago. I followed the directions on how to fix, and it didn't work. So I still have about 20 songs I can't play, even though I bought them. This is why I have been buying from for the past few years. Plus, it's less expensive.

My Favorite Songs
I'm going to guess that a lot of people have similar problems as their libraries have expanded, they have upgraded computers, they have moved from CD's to strictly digital, etc. I inspired Greg to get his library organized, and he's just in the early stages now. It's very addictive, especially if you are a perfectionist. Greg has been avoiding this for awhile, just listening to Pandora primarily and not downloading new music. But now he is realizing all the music he doesn't have that he wants to have.

As frustrating as this may sound, it's a fun project! I am really enjoying listening to everything, analyzing my music taste and trying to get as many stats on my music preference as possible. I'm not done yet, and I still have a list of about 20+ songs to download. But for now, here are the stats: 2,832 songs for 15.32 Gigs, or 8 Days worth of music. This does not include any of my Broadway collection, because I find I need to be in a particular mood for that, and I don't want those songs appearing in shuffle. Those are all on CDs still.

As a side project, I wanted to identify my all time favorite songs. Ever. This is tricky because songs I was obsessed with a long time ago aren't ones I am as in love with now. But I loved them so much then, I feel like they should be on the list. So, I made a playlist of all the songs that I really, really liked. I went through all 2,832 songs and pulled out each one. This list is 168 songs or 1 Gig. So about 6% of my songs are ones that  made the "all time favorites" list.

Within this list, I pulled out a few that are the timeless best songs ever. Songs that every time I hear them, I just want to play them over and over and marvel at how good they are. There are 35 songs that fall into this category. The top 1%. I used the rating feature to rate them 5 stars. Everything else on the list got 4 stars. Eventually I will go through the rest of the library and assign 3, 2, and 1 star songs. I do like most everything I have, so a rating of 2 or 3 isn't bad. It's just that the song isn't as amazing as the 4's or the 5's.

And then. . . I tried to infer my favorite all-time albums. That's a hard one because some albums have songs with lots of 4's, but no 5's. And some albums have two 5's, but no 4's. Hmmmm. Same problem with favorite artists. Take the Counting Crows, for example. They have 3 songs that I rated in that top 1%. But they don't have many others that I really like. Same with Coldplay. Neither of these bands have come out with anything good lately, so I certainly wouldn't call them my favorite bands.

I really wish iTunes would let you download to Excel for a thorough music analysis.

Most of the 35 songs are slow. Although I enjoy a mix of upbeat/fast and slow/ballad songs but I think that it's difficult for a fast/upbeat song to really tug at the heartstrings. And when I love a song, it's because it tugs at the heart strings. This list is NOT a good "sample" of my library. Most of the library is modern/alternative rock. I might go into serious depression if this was my whole library.

Without Further Ado, here are my top 35 songs:

Date ArtistTitleAlbum
 1993  Counting Crows Perfect Blue Buildings  August & Everything After 
 1993  Counting Crows Omaha August & Everything After
 1993  Duran Duran Ordinary World Duran Duran
 1993  Duran Duran Come Undone Duran Duran
 1994   Lauren Christy Vanessa's Father Lauren Christy
 1994  Stone Temple Pilots  Interstate Love Song Purple
 1994  Toad the Wet Sprocket  Something's Always Wrong  Dulcinea
 1995  Collective Soul The World I Know Collective Soul
 1996  Counting Crows A Long December Recovering The Satellites  
 1997  Live Gas Head Goes West Secret Samhadi
 1997  Live Lakini's Juice Secret Samhadi
 1998   Tori Amos Jackie's Strength From The Choirgirl Hotel
 1999   Red Hot Chili Peppers Californication Californication
 2000    Coldplay Spies Parachutes
 2000  Lifehouse Breathing No Name Face
 2001  Live Overcome V
 2001  Puddle of Mudd Blurry Come Clean
 2001  Tantric Mourning Tantric
 2002  David Gray The Other Side A New Day at Midnight
 2002  Dishwalla Somewhere In the Middle Opaline
 2002  Jason Mraz The Boy's Gone Waiting for My Rocket to Come 
 2002  Red Hot Chili Peppers By The Way By The Way
 2002  Red Hot Chili Peppers Midnight By The Way
 2002  Tori Amos Sorta Fairytale Scarlet's Walk
 2003  Muse Hysteria Absolution
 2003  Tori Amos Angels Tales of a Librarian
 2004  Five For Fighting NYC Weather Report The Battle for Everything
 2004  Five For Fighting Devil in the Wishing Well The Battle for Everything
 2004  Keane Bedshaped Hopes and Fears
 2005  David Gray Nos Da Cariad Life In Slow Motion
 2005  Jason Mraz Plane Mr. A-Z
 2007  Fall Out Boy Fame < Infamy Infinity On a High
 2007  Foo Fighters The Pretender Echoes, Silence, Patience
 2007  Jimmy Eat World Dizzy Chase This Light
 2011  Red Hot Chili Peppers Even You, Brutus? I'm With You

One problem with this list is that some of these songs are actually the same. For example, the two Duran Duran songs off of the same album sound a lot alike. I can't decide which I like better. It's kind of like saying "I like Duran Duran's sound on these songs" versus two totally different songs. The same is true of the Five For Fighting songs. Those two are very similar, but it's impossible to pick which one I prefer. So they both make the list. On the other hand, the Red Hot Chili Peppers songs and the Tori Amos songs are different from each other.

Anyway, I'm almost done with this project, but still very annoyed at the amount of music that disappeared that I have to purchase again. It's been extremely time consuming, but since I haven't been able to do much else with my mono, it's been a good thing.

The mono seems to be slowly getting better. I'm going to work, but minimizing anything else away from the house. I'm basically just slow and weak. I don't walk as fast as the average person and my head feels dizzy sometimes. But it is getting better. I just need to continue to be patient.


  1. I've also spent countless hours trying to organize my iTunes. That same thing happens, where songs triples, quadruples, etc. I just gave up and use Pandora now.

  2. I have always been anti apple, but finally broke down and got an ipod for xmas, as I also received a new computer. I had a similar problem with switching everything over. The most annoying were songs I purchased through online services who will NOT transfer the song or licenses to allow me to play it anymore.

    It's an extremely time consuming thing, but a useful use of time when you have mono!