Prior to the digital music revolution I was a card–carrying member of the “artist–alphabetical, album–chronological” school of CD organizing. Still am, kinda, but since that time (what with quick search and quick sort becoming about as simple as can be in any jukebox software worth its salt) my organizational skills have gone down the crapper. Worse, I don’t build playlists any more: I just can’t. I’m either listening to an album from start to finish, a single track “I just have to listen to right now”, or the whole collection on shuffle.
With this kind of convenience coming to the entire operating system with Spotlight, I imagine that all my intricate file hierarchies and naming conventions are about to come crashing down too… but metadata is still the key. And being anal about my musical metadata, there’s a lot I still consider ‘missing’ from interfaces like iTunes and the iPod.
- Faceted everything
- First, of course, are the faceted genre, artist, and album fields I gushed about last week. If convenience and utility are to move up a notch, this is a must–have, and useless fluff like redundant Music Store links can wait until later. I know I could build this functionality myself with smart playlists, but why should I? I’d suddenly have a smart playlist for every artist, album, and genre in my library… this is something browsing was supposed to fix in the first place.
- ‘Mood’ fields
- BPM is a lousy indicator of mood. Genre is a lousy indicator of mood. Pretty much everything except ‘mood’ is a lousy indicator of mood. I know we’re dealing with the confines of the ID3 spec, and I’m all about standards compliance, but things need to move forward.
- Customizable secondary sort criteria
- Not so much a must–have as a wish–I–had. There is absolutely no good way to handle this in the UI without inducing preferencitis, but a little
plistediting is never too much for the infinitely picky hard core. I’m a big fan of the hidden preference, a big fan, and I yearn for the ability to order by Artist then Release Date then Album then Track Number. It wouldn’t just replicate my meatspace organizational mantra, it’d alleviate the stress of albums with the same name intermingling.
- Release date
- The current standard for album chronology is Year of Release. This could be fine–tuned. Amazon has the data. Dump the CDDB.
- How often do you forget the name of a song, or even the name of the artist, and end up turning to Google for help with a vague recollection of the chorus line? Too often. There may be a lot of songs with ‘love’ in the title in your music library now, but there are even more with it in the lyrics… wouldn’t you like to find them?
- Again, there’s no way to put a good interface on this, particularly in a consumer application, but it reeks of geekiness and I love it.
- Performers, producers, labels, copyright, publishers, and barcodes
- Delicious got a lot of this right with Libary: get all the data you can lay your hands on and make it searchable. Querying ‘Ryan Greene’ should return practically everything ever released on Fat Wreck Chords. A search for Butch Vig should turn up Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Garbage, and more. In an ideal world, it would. More fields. More metadata. More searchable.