Music collection database

Catalog you music collection with this free but sophisticated personal database.

JB Music Catalog is a personal database for music lovers and collectors. It catalogs your CDs, LPs, tapes, MP3s, and more with a level of detail few other databases can match at any price, yet it's also freeware. It's highly customizable in its look, layout, and properties. It incorporates a music player and can generate detailed reports and discographies, too.

To open JB Music Catalog, you must first create a new catalog or open an existing catalog. We created a new catalog, which involves either changing or accepting the default name and directory in Explorer. The program opened normally after checking for updates. The default interface can be customized; we found that the left-hand navigation panel's expandable alphabetical listing let us quickly access entries by name (once we'd created some entries, of course). We started by clicking the Add Artist icon, which brought up the compact Add Artist Type wizard. Here we could specify an Artist Type (like Jazz, Rock, etc.) as well as configure the title format ("Beatles, The" or "The Beatles," for example) and even set our choices as defaults. We clicked Save, and the Add Artist tool appeared. This dialog let us add and sort the name, add countries to a drop-down list for selecting, link Web sites, and add photos and notes. Next, we entered our tunes in the Add Media wizard: name, media type, artist, and other data, and clicked Save. That called up a page with the most extensive and detailed data fields we've ever seen in a music database. Not just a drop-down list for Release Year; we're talking about a second list for Re-Release Year. Check boxes let us select Live, Mono, Remastered, Bootleg, and other useful categories. A 76-page PDF-based Help file answers most questions, and more help is available.

Of course, all that data isn't going to enter itself; that's the "B side" of such archives, since it can be daunting just to get started. We recommend starting with a stack of CDs from the same artist and entering your collection in stages. Once you're done, your catalog can be updated, saved, and exported to PDF, Excel, and Word. That's true of many database tools; what isn't true is that most tools offer music collectors the same level of sophistication and detail that JB offers. They don't.

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