I get my music from several places. Over time I've ripped most of the CDs in my collection and have also bought songs on iTunes. Though file sharing is tempting--and fairly popular judging by our Most Popular list--I've only used those applications a couple of times over the years for long lost remixes. I guess I try to stay legal out of respect for the musicians, but this article isn't about the legality of file sharing.
The problem is, when you get your music from a lot of different sources, you end up with strangely tagged tracks and artist information which completely messes up your library. Particularly if you have a large music collection, you'll find duplicates of songs you forgot you had, partial downloads of songs, and songs you had forgotten you even added to your library because they were tagged in such a way they show up at the bottom of your list.
One way to remedy this problem is to go through and switch each of the tags yourself. iTunes lets you switch each tag manually, but you have to go through each song one by one to change the information. Fortunately there's a group of programs which let you batch tag and convert multiple songs so your audio files stay organized. Though it takes some work, when you're finished you'll be able to find everything easily and sort by genre, name, artist, and year, knowing all your songs will show up that fit the criteria selected.
There are free and paid versions of this type of music tagging software, and in this Killer Download I've included a little of both. As always, if you have a better alternative, let us know in the comments.
My Mp3's has a misused apostrophe in its title, but as a free MP3 tagging editor is pretty useful. You'll be able to grab huge chunks of your library and switch all the tag types at once to lighten your load. It offers handy tools to standardize your tagging method and it lets you copy your chosen tagging method to other groups of songs to save time. The included track player was a little buggy during my testing, but most of the features are well designed and work fine.
Mp3Tag is a shareware tagging editor ($24.95) which offers a few more features than My Mp3's. Mp3Tag lets you batch tag several audio file formats by filling in the appropriate fields, and offers a few other cool features in its multiwindow interface. Those who like to sing along will appreciate the capability to search the Web for song lyrics to attach to the file. You can also use Mp3Tag to download album art from the Web so all your music will have that nifty picture when it loads up. The included player on this application worked fine in my testing and I liked the amount of info you can edit for each song with My Mp3's.
MediaMonkey Standard is probably our most popular application in this category and for good reason. MediaMonkey can be used as your main jukebox application, complete with custom playlists, album art, an excellent included player, and CD ripping and burning. The tagging system is excellent as well, with the ability to ping Amazon for album art and tagging conventions with the click of a button. A left navigation window lets you sort by any tags you've assigned which makes playlists from a specific era or genre a snap. After your songs are properly tagged, you can drag and drop conventions to other artists to get your preferred layout. It even supports syncing with your iPod. A gold version of MediaMonkey ($19.95) adds options to automatically tag new music as you add it, autofile conversion, autoplaylists, and more.
If you have a big library of music which is getting out of control, try standardizing your tags with one of these programs. Once your music is fully organized you'll be happy with how easy it is to find your favorite songs. For more on MP3 tagging, check out this post by our very own Seth Rosenblatt.