Do “The Kids” Manage Music Libraries Anymore?

[Edit: Apparently my memory was faulty: According to my iTunes library, I apparently own at least some songs from some 1903 CDs–not the 800 I originally posted!]

One of the casualties of the move to Nashville was a NAS drive that held my home copy of my 20,000+ song library — 1,900 or so CD’s worth — which I’d spent a lifetime building.

This isn’t a post about tech tragedy, however: I’m a massive believer in backups, and I had a second drive on a work computer (as well as a backup spare) which held nearly an identical copy of the library. The “nearly” part consisted of those disks I’d striped up to one location and not the other– a small but annoying part of the total.

Additionally, I noticed that the metadata and folder organization of the backups wasn’t quite up to the standards of the home copy, with almost 2,000 tracks that were missing their album covers, duplicates of other tracks, or with albums scattered between similar-but-not-identical artists like “Reggie AND the Full Effect” vs. “Reggie & The Full Effect”. Nothing life-threatening to be sure, but having spent countless hours getting the whole thing into shape previously, I wasn’t thrilled with the need to spend another dozen hours or so editing ID3 tags and chasing down album covers to restore my collection to a state of relative organization again.

In the past, I’d used a tool called “Tune-up” to help with the process, although their more recent “3.0” release seemed to choke utterly on collections of this size. In the years since I’d last used it, it seems the company that makes it had actually done something I’d rarely seen a company do: pull the new version and revert to development on the previous series. As a result, the current version of Tune-up is 2.7, and it did indeed help quite a bit in getting the whole library back into shape, although the software does not appear to be actively in development.

But this led me to wonder: does anyone out there even mess with this sort of thing anymore? After all, my record-collecting habit goes back almost 40 years, and as I laboriously made the move to digital in the 90s, all the time spent organizing and filing physical albums was replaced with the lesser, but still burdensome task of managing a 200 GB collection of audio files.

But for the kids of today, do they do any of this? If you never actually buy an album, but instead merely stream your music over Spotify, Pandora, or the like, is there even a reason to manage a big stash of music on a local device? Judging by the poor state of development of automated tools for helping organize such a collection, it seems to my eye like it’s possible that this is a market that is not exactly healthy. At the same time, I can’t be the only person who feels a need to actually own his precious digital music collection, vs. streaming or renting it… can I?

Under-30s in the audience: what do you do for music? And do you feel a need to organize your own music stash — or is it all just a collection of Pandora channels and Spotify playlists?

4 responses to “Do “The Kids” Manage Music Libraries Anymore?

  1. Brian J. Stewart

    I don’t really think most under-30 are managing their libraries. My kids 19 and 23 have had access to my entire library of music (38K songs) practically their entire life when they were still living at home. They both stream from a variety of sources and have very limited purchases of any music. The music they do own is simply ripped and stored on their PC, which last I saw was still iTunes. Their iTunes management consists of “add a folder to library” and that is it with no further work done. My metadata-OCD brain has to turn away when I see their library file when compared to my years of music data management.

  2. What is there to manage besides the file folder hierarchy?
    When I started college in 1998 and got a T1 line for the first time I spent much time downloading music through: the school network (ftp), napster, etc. Honestly I burned many albums to CD, then deleted the music, but often I didn’t. The digital music went into a folder with the artist’s name, then each song was (then) an mp3 file named artist – album – song. When I ripped my own music I followed the same naming scheme. My music player was (and I wish it still is) winamp, so I only had to drag the folder or file into the playlist window, and viola, it loaded straight.

    oh, I get it, the iPhone and pocket media players didn’t allow drag and drop … the media players evolved without that programming… oh well.

    You know what, the only thing I really miss is the ability to rate songs. I stated a text file with ratings, but can’t currently sort music with the data. I’ll try putting together some program with awk and/or sqlite code to do it some day.

  3. Well, bummer, I left a comment, back in the fall, but now it’s gone. No one cares anymore.

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