Streaming music is dominating our consumption of digital music and I can’t stand it. Leaving my library in the hands of a startup that surely will not be around forever is unwise. I want the files, I want metadata, I want to know what I’m listening to. Is this album the Remastered version, Deluxe version, the Anniversary Edition or a remixed bootleg? With most services it’s hard to tell if it’s Explicit or Clean.
The best ways to get mp3s these days are Bandcamp, download codes included with physical media or a thing that rhymes with “dole squeak”, but what you do with these files once you have them is another story. Keeping a large collection of music on your computer isn’t easy and my process has evolved over the years.
When I was a kid in the mid nineties most of my music listening happened through
the Sony Cassette Walkman my Grandma gave me for my birthday. I don’t remember being
enthralled with my parents cassette collection; Rod Stewart, Fine Young
Cannibals, Simply Red and other detritus of late-eighties Adult Contemporary
radio, but it also had an AM/FM radio and I used to power through AA batteries
staying up too late listening to Toronto stations.
On Saturday nights 104.5 CHUM-FM would broadcast their weekly chart show where Roger
Ashby would count down the top 30 singles in the station’s format and I’m pretty
sure that’s when I first heard The Tragically Hip’s “Ahead by a Century”.
Years ago Apple added the “Album Artist” field to iTunes, immediately solving the problem of grouping albums containing tracks with featured artists. For metadata anal-retentives like myself certain albums (rap mixtapes, collaborative albums, split singles) live in this grey area between single-artist albums and compilations. Just because I Got That Work has a featured artist on almost every track does not make it a compilation—it’s decidedly a work of Big Tymers—Psych Funk 101 is a compilation.
Album Artist works great for this, but unfortunately doesn’t work on any of the iPod Classics, which I use in my car, so albums formatted this way clutter the artist list with an entry for every combination of featured artist. My solution is to move featured artists out of the Artist field and into the Track Name.