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Auto-tagging my music library

March 12, 2022

I use Cmus as my main media player, and occasionally mpv although I mostly use the later for video playback (including streamlink). I’m pretty happy with my current setup. Everything runs from a terminal, there’s no fancy UI nor unwanted distraction, just the raw output. My music library actually weighs about 62 Go and it’s full of MP3, some OGG as well as some videos, but not everything is in order. I mean, I miss a lot of tags for some albums that I ripped from my personal CD collection. Here comes the idea of auto-tagging everything. I tried three solutions. Here are my very first impressions.

I tested all three software on a specific folder in my database, which I know is not the easiest one, since it features a mix of A Certain Ratio and Joy Division’s live shows, among others. And I warmly recommend everything from The Factory Records.

Beets

At first, I was impressed by beets, especially since it is a command-line only utility, which comes with many add-ons (aka plugins). I configured its settings based on the documentation and what I could find on the intertube.

Tagging:
    Various Artists - Live at Leigh Rock Festival 1979
URL:
    https://musicbrainz.org/release/e01790b2-77ba-4b7d-8383-118a6cdc700d
(Similarity: 47.9%) (missing tracks) (2xCD, 2006, GB, Ozit)
CD 1
Missing tracks (29/35 - 82.9%):
 ! Leigh Festival Stage Announcements/Disorder (# 1) (3:59)
 ! Leaders of Men                              (# 2) (2:35)
 ! Colony                                      (# 3) (3:56)
 ! Insight                                     (# 4) (3:39)
 ! Digital                                     (# 5) (2:48)
 ! Dead Souls                                  (# 6) (4:18)
 ! Shadowplay                                  (# 7) (3:30)
 ! She's Lost Control                          (# 8) (3:24)
 ! Transmission                                (# 9) (4:04)
 ! Interzone                                   (#10) (2:08)
 ! Intro of Sound of Music                     (#11) (0:25)
 ! Tony Wilson Fucker                          (#12) (3:01)
 ! Messages                                    (#19) (4:36)
 ! Bunker Soldiers                             (#20) (2:52)
 ! Julia's Song                                (#21) (4:16)
 ! VCBXL                                       (#22) (4:07)
 ! Almost                                      (#23) (3:56)
 ! Red Frame White Light                       (#24) (3:45)
 ! Mystery Reality                             (#25) (3:28)
 ! Electricity                                 (#26) (3:54)
 ! Second Head                                 (#27) (4:00)
 ! Brave Boys Keep Their Promises              (#28) (2:31)
 ! Sleeping Gas                                (#29) (3:45)
 ! Take a Chance                               (#30) (2:30)
 ! Ha Ha I'm a Drowning                        (#31) (4:16)
 ! Read It in Books                            (#32) (2:32)
 ! Straight Reigns                             (#33) (2:26)
 ! Camera Camera                               (#34) (3:07)
 ! Went Crazy                                  (#35) (3:20)
Apply, More candidates, Skip, Use as-is, as Tracks, Group albums,
Enter search, enter Id, aBort, plaY? M
Finding tags for album "Various Artists - Live at Leigh Rock Festival 1979".
Candidates:
1. Various Artists - Live at Leigh Rock Festival 1979 (47.9%) (missing tracks) (2xCD, 2006, GB, Ozit)
2. Joy Division - Leigh Rock Festival (21.6%) (tracks, id, missing tracks, ...) (12" Vinyl, 2008, GB, Ozit-Morpheus Records, OZITLP8796)
3. Whitesnake - Live at Reading Rock Festival 1979 (19.4%) (tracks, id, artist, ...) (CD, 2011, XE, EMI, 50999 679550 2 2)
4. Bernard O Neill - Zumzeaux Live at Edinburgh Folk Festival 1993 (15.6%) (tracks, id, missing tracks, ...) (bandcamp, Vinyl, 2021, FR, Bernard O Neill)
5. Betsy Bell & Mary Gray, Come A Maying, Gemma Khawaja - Live at Leigh Folk Festival 2014 (14.9%) (tracks, id, artist, ...) (bandcamp, Digital Media, 2014, GB, Gemma Khawaja)
6. H.E.A.T - Live at Sweden Rock Festival (14.9%) (tracks, missing tracks, id, ...) (Digital Media, 2019, XW, earMUSIC)
7. Various Artists - Rock On: 1979 (14.1%) (tracks, missing tracks, id, ...) (1996, US)
8. Various Artists - Suomi-rock 1979 (13.5%) (missing tracks, tracks, id, ...) (CD, 1994, FI, Poko Rekords, CDROCK 79)
9. Crazyhead - Live at Reading Rock Festival 1989 remastered audio. (13.3%) (id, unmatched tracks, artist, ...) (bandcamp, Digital Media, 2016, GB, Crazyhead)
10. Steel Pulse - Live at Montreux Jazz Festival 1979 (11.9%) (tracks, id, artist, ...) (1979, CH)
11. ETRON FOU LELOUBLAN - Live At The Rock In Opposition Festival, 1978 (11.8%) (tracks, id, artist, ...) (bandcamp, Vinyl, 2015, FR, Replica Records)
12. 1978, Etron Fou Le Loublan, 
“ Live At The Rock In Opposition Festival - New London Theatre »
par Dino (6.4%) (id, unmatched tracks, artist, ...) (bandcamp, Digital Media, 2018, FR, Revue & Corrigée)
# selection (default 1), Skip, Use as-is, as Tracks, Group albums,
Enter search, enter Id, aBort, plaY?

It is nice that it asks us to decide what to do next. However, it may soon become cumbersome for mass retagging. Moreover, the returned results are not always very accurate, even if the above example doesn’t exemplify this claim. On the first run, the correct 2 CD set did not figure on the first position, although I don’t why it is the case when I replicated the import process later.

Onetagger

I came across this software by chance. I was surprised there was a Linux ready binary to download. The UI is quite nicely done, and it is easy to start the auto-tagging process. You must select one or more external sources, including iTunes (with limited queries) or Spotify (needs a free account). The results were quite deceptive. I got a lot of failed downloads from one source, and even if all queries to Apple Music were okay (but not that successful), I ended up with all ID3 infos removed from my tracks. Don’t know why.

--8<--------
Mar 12 20:57:18.106 INFO [ITunes] State: Ok, Accuracy: Some(1.0), Path: /home/chl/Media/Music/Albums/A Certain Ratio/Live At Leigh Rock Festiv
al '79 [Disc 1]/1-17 Crippled Child.mp3, module: onetagger::tagger
Mar 12 20:57:18.106 INFO iTunes rate limit delay: 2956, module: onetagger::tagger::itunes
Mar 12 20:57:21.489 INFO [ITunes] State: Ok, Accuracy: Some(1.0), Path: /home/chl/Media/Music/Albums/A Certain Ratio/Live At Leigh Rock Festiv
al '79 [Disc 1]/1-15 All Night Party.mp3, module: onetagger::tagger
Mar 12 20:57:21.490 INFO iTunes rate limit delay: 2952, module: onetagger::tagger::itunes
Mar 12 20:57:24.748 INFO [ITunes] State: Ok, Accuracy: Some(1.0), Path: /home/chl/Media/Music/Albums/A Certain Ratio/Live At Leigh Rock Festiv
al '79 [Disc 1]/1-13 Faceless.mp3, module: onetagger::tagger
Mar 12 20:57:24.748 INFO iTunes rate limit delay: 2963, module: onetagger::tagger::itunes
Mar 12 20:57:28.075 INFO [ITunes] State: Ok, Accuracy: Some(1.0), Path: /home/chl/Media/Music/Albums/A Certain Ratio/Live At Leigh Rock Festiv
al '79 [Disc 1]/1-18 Flight.mp3, module: onetagger::tagger
Mar 12 20:57:28.076 INFO iTunes rate limit delay: 2954, module: onetagger::tagger::itunes
Mar 12 20:57:31.489 INFO [ITunes] State: Ok, Accuracy: Some(1.0), Path: /home/chl/Media/Music/Albums/A Certain Ratio/Live At Leigh Rock Festiv
al '79 [Disc 1]/1-14 I Feel.mp3, module: onetagger::tagger
Mar 12 20:57:31.491 INFO iTunes rate limit delay: 2955, module: onetagger::tagger::itunes
Mar 12 20:57:35.100 INFO [ITunes] State: Ok, Accuracy: Some(1.0), Path: /home/chl/Media/Music/Albums/A Certain Ratio/Live At Leigh Rock Festiv
al '79 [Disc 1]/1-16 The Choir.mp3, module: onetagger::tagger
Mar 12 20:57:35.101 INFO iTunes rate limit delay: 2957, module: onetagger::tagger::itunes
Mar
-------->8--

Picard

MusicBrainz is a recognized platform for tagging. Picard uses its database to fetch track’s tags, album cover, etc. It is easy to install on Ubuntu (you just have to add the recommended PPA and ask for sudo apt update && sudo apt install picard). Last time I gave it a try, I found it not so intuitive. But now I realize that (1) it is fast and (2) it provides reliable results. It even added the lyrics. Deal.

~/.../A Certain Ratio/Live At Leigh Rock Festival '79 [Disc 1] % id3v2 -l 1-13\ Faceless.mp3
id3v1 tag info for 1-13 Faceless.mp3:
Title  : Faceless                        Artist: A Certain Ratio
Album  : Live at Leigh Rock Festival 19  Year: 2006, Genre: Rock (17)
Comment:                                 Track: 13
id3v2 tag info for 1-13 Faceless.mp3:
TIT2 (Title/songname/content description): Faceless
TPE1 (Lead performer(s)/Soloist(s)): A Certain Ratio
TRCK (Track number/Position in set): 13/18
TALB (Album/Movie/Show title): Live at Leigh Rock Festival 1979
TPOS (Part of a set): 1/2
TCON (Content type): Rock (17)
TBPM (BPM (beats per minute)): 0
TCMP ():  frame
TMED (Media type): CD
TDAT (Date): 2407
TORY (Original release year): 2006
TPUB (Publisher): Ozit
TYER (Year): 2006
IPLS (Involved people list): ,
TXXX (User defined text information): (SCRIPT): Latn
TPE2 (Band/orchestra/accompaniment): Various Artists
TSO2 ():  frame
TSOP ():  frame
TXXX (User defined text information): (ASIN): B000F9RME8
TXXX (User defined text information): (originalyear): 2006
TXXX (User defined text information): (ARTISTS): A Certain Ratio
UFID (Unique file identifier): http://musicbrainz.org, 36 bytes
TXXX (User defined text information): (MusicBrainz Album Status): official
TXXX (User defined text information): (MusicBrainz Album Release Country): GB
TXXX (User defined text information): (MusicBrainz Album Type): album/compilation/live
TXXX (User defined text information): (Acoustid Id): fcbc4ae0-1982-41d7-9961-1da4663c3021
TXXX (User defined text information): (MusicBrainz Album Id): e01790b2-77ba-4b7d-8383-118a6cdc700d
TXXX (User defined text information): (MusicBrainz Artist Id): 73577e86-4da8-4d76-949d-34c757e053be
TXXX (User defined text information): (MusicBrainz Album Artist Id): 89ad4ac3-39f7-470e-963a-56509c546377
TXXX (User defined text information): (MusicBrainz Release Group Id): 0ac9fd10-73e7-3d48-b1e0-c45b788130bb
TXXX (User defined text information): (MusicBrainz Release Track Id): 34e13319-80ff-32ca-9d07-73675a0d37b0
USLT (Unsynchronized lyric/text transcription): ()[XXX]: Tekst piosenki:
Go on, close the door
Leave me alone again
Hide the sun, bring me darkness
Let the walls come swallow me

I breathe in deep and taste my senses
For one last time, I know I'll be free
I breathe in deep, vigilant senses
I'm not enslaved, I'll fly again in my dreams

Feeling sad and blue and lost and cold
Counting hours, building towers, watch them all collapse

I breathe in deep and taste my senses
For one last time, I know I'll be free
I breathe in deep, vigilant senses
I'm not enslaved, I'll fly again in my dreams

All the cowards let's step up and speak our minds, will you listen?
Be the judge and face the fact. How you and me are both to blame

My spirit fades, my need remains untouched
My night has come, and it will be my last

I breathe in deep and taste my senses
For one last time, I know I'll be free
I breathe in deep, vigilant senses
I'm not enslaved, I'll fly again in my dreams

I breathe in deep and taste my senses
For one last time, I know I'll be free
I breathe in deep, vigilant senses
I'm not enslaved, I'll fly again in my dreams
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I yet have to tag my all library database. Wishing me luck, then!

♪ Joy Bogat • Sometimes

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See Also

» Desktop setup » Reflecting on my RSS habits » Usenet » Welcome to the Matrix » Just write