In a previous post, I talked about how I use Subsonic in order to make my entire music collection available over the internet to either my phone, or any computer via its web-interface. I’m still using Subsonic to achieve this, but had one fairly major gripe left with the set-up – I was managing the library on disk manually. Subsonic is great for editing ID3 tags on individual songs, but it relies on files being in sensible per-album folders in order to populate its library, something which I very quickly got fed up of doing manually.
I’ve known for some time about the Musicbrainz project, which maintains a database of all music releases, and has a number of applications built on top of it which will scan, tag and move your music collection as desired. I recall using Musicbrainz Picard back in the day to sort my library before I moved to hosting music on my own server, but never found anything similar that I could run on my Ubuntu server, until now. Enter beets.
Beets is a program that will manage your entire music library, allowing command line access, and interfaces directly with the Musicbrainz API to tag tracks appropriately. Plugins for beets also allow you to update genres according to Last.fm, download cover art (which Subsonic will quite nicely pick up!), and even acoustically fingerprint unknown files to figure out what they are!
Installing Beets was as simple as following the instructions on their getting started guide, however importing my existing music proved a little more tricky, and I had a few false-starts at doing this. I eventually found that the easiest way to do this was to move my existing collection into a separate folder, and set up beets to sort my collection back into the original place. The
~/.config/beets/config.yaml file I ended up using looks like this:
directory: /media/music library: /media/backup/beets/musiclibrary.blb import: write: yes move: yes resume: yes replace: '[\\/]': _ '^\.': _ '[\x00-\x1f]': _ '[<>:"\?\*\|]': _ '\.$': _ '\s+$': '' art_filename: cover plugins: fetchart embedart lastgenre
Put simply, my music lives in
/media/music (an NFS share), with my library file on a separate backup share. When importing files, I want them writing (moving) to their new location, so all I need to do is run
beet import New\ Album/ and the files will be tagged and moved into place (with most dodgy characters removed – unfortunately some special characters still seem to slip through). Album art is also downloaded into the new folder as cover.jpg, embedded into the files themselves, and also the genre field is populated using Last.fm. A nightly scan configured in Subsonic picks up the new files and adds them into the library, making them available to listen!
The next step for me is to integrate importing into the same process as my automatic sorting of TV shows, as I currently still need to manually import newly downloaded tracks. However, even this is a massive improvement on the tedious processed previously needed for getting OCD-quality tags on new music!!