Computer: Independent Mangement of my Music and Playlists

How I organize my songs and playlists

My Playlists (Audio) are in part very valuable for me and I want to keep them for long time periods (10 years and more).

Therefore I decided years ago to keep my playlists independently from any music player software (Winamp, iTunes, Songbird) in separate M3U files.

All my songs I keep in a single folder with sub-folders by artist – and sometimes by album as well. That “Song Folder” resides on a NAS storage (QNAP, Synology).

My M3U playlists are placed in the root of my “Song Folder”. In order to by able to easily move the “Song Folder” to some new place when the neccessity arises over time, I use relative paths within my M3U playlists.

Over time I did use different music playing software. At the moment I use iTunes. Consequently, player software must have the ability to import M3U playlists, as iTunes does (Menu: File – Library – Import Playlist…)

Checking and Fixing of my Playlists

Playlist Creator 3.6.2

When I for some reason started to rearrange the file structure of my songs (did that last time because of iTunes Match), some songs in my M3U playlists pointed to non existing files – aka “broken links”.

In the past I used “Playlist Creator 3.6.2” to fix this. With this wonderfull piece of software I can open such a M3U playlist and Playlist Creator immediately displays the playlist with the “broken” song entries marked in red. Great!

I then used to go into my file explorer and look there for the new place where that “lost sheep” may be (reasons could be I have moved the song into a sub-folder or I have changed the spelling of the song’s filename or….).. Once I have found the song file, I easily could move that from the file editor into the playlist by drag and drop.

So far so good.

Problem with Playlist Creator was: it does not support audio files in Apples m4a format – meaning I could not drag-and-drop such files into playlists. But I now have more and more such files from Apples wonderful iTunes Match service that I started to use in 2012.

listFix()

Searching the internet for a tool simmilar to Playlist Creator, but able to use m4a files within playlists, I found listFix()

http://sourceforge.net/apps/mediawiki/listfix/index.php?title=Main_Page

listFix() solves my original problem (support of m4a files) and adds an additional benefit:: When I right click on a “broken link” song in a playlist, the menue offers a “Find Closest Matches”. ListFix() then searches the entire Musik Folder and offers a little list of songs with equal or simmilar file names / file paths. I can click on my choice and voila, my playlist is fixed.

Further Thoughts: Media Library

So I finally found a solution to fix the “dis-order” in my playlists. But wouldn’t it be much better just to avoid such a “dis-oder”?

The root cause of this kind of problem is my choice of M3U playlists for long-time storage. In M3U playlists the physical path and file name is stored. If that path/file name ever changes in the future, I have to repair it, very often in multiple places, since one song often appears in more than one playlist.

Idea: Use a database oriented software as a Media Library (song library) , were a can rename song files or move song files into other folders within that Software, in order to allow that software to keep track of my changes and to reflect them automatically in all impacted playlists. Leaving the ultimate possibility to export such “managed playlists” to static M3U playlists at whish – may be for long-time archiving.

When time permits, I will look at: (my short list) for such a database feature::

  • iTunes
  • CoolPlayer
  • Foobar2000
  • MusicBee        ——————  My third try    —– decided to use it
  • MediaMonkey —————— My second try — work in progress
  • Helium Music Manager: —– My fist try ——- looks quite good for my purpose
  • Musik Cube

Helium Music Manager

  • Backend is a database  <——-  SQL Express —– MySQL —- MS Access
  • Yes, m4a files can be dragged and dropped on playlists
  • Yes, I can import my existing M3U playlists
  • Yes, I can export my Helium playlists again to independent M3U playlists
  • Yes, I can rename music files within Helium and Helium updates all affected playlists accordingly

MediaMonkey

  • Backend is a SQLite database
  • …. tests next weekend….

MusicBee

  • Very easy to use
  • Backend is a SQLite database (???)

Working with MusicBee

My Songs

All my songs (mp3 / m4a) are stored on my NAS in the folder \\diskstation\OneDrive\music. This folder now contains 11395 files has a size of 47,8 GB.

This “Song Folder” is part of “OneDrive” which is automatically synchronized with the Microsoft cloud. So all my songs have a backup in the Microsoft Cload and are accessable through the internet.

I use ID3 metadata to describe each song.

This “Song Folder” is than imported into MusicBee:

  • MusicBee -> Datei -> Neueinlesen
  • “Folgende Ordner nach Dateien und Wiedergabelisten durchsuchen” -> Ordner auswählen ->  \\diskstation\OneDrive\music
  • Kästchen “Audiodateien berücksichtigen”
  • Neue Dateien hinzufügen -> Zur Bibliothek
  • Schaltfläche “Fortsetzen”

My Playlists

Meine Playlists befinden sich ebenfalls als Dateien (*.m3u) im “Song Folder”  \\diskstation\OneDrive\music und ich möchte diese M3U-Files als Original meiner wertvollen Playlsists hier verwalten und behalten.

Diese Playlists sind teilweise sehr alt und können kleinere Fehler enthalten weil z.B. der Name eingiger MP3-Dateien  geändert wurde oder sie in einen Unterordner (z.B. für ein Album) verschoben wurden.

Jede Playlist-Datei (*.m3u) muss ich deshalt mit der Software listFix() (s.o.) überprüfen und ggf. korrigieren. Dabei sollten innerhalb einer Playlist-Datei die einzelnen Songs mit relativen Pfadnamen referenziert werden. Also beispielsweise

  • RICHTIG  relativ:    .\Sarah Connor\Sarah Connor – Hes Unbelievable Sample.mp3
  • FALSCH  absolut:   Z:\OneDrive\music\Sarah Connor\Sarah Connor – Hes Unbelievable Sample.mp3

Wenn das listFix() noch nicht ganz richtig gemacht hat, muss ich jedes Playlist-File noch einmal in einem Editor nachkontrollieren.

Jetzt erst kann ich die Playlists in MusicBee importieren. Ich importiere die Playlists einzeln indem ich die Playlist-Datei mit Drag-und-drop aus dem Explorer in MusicBee (linke Spalte, Abschnitt “Wiedergabelisten”) schiebe.

MusicBee Datenbank

In MusicBee kann man mehrere Datenbanken (jeweils in einem Ordner) anlegen. Ich habe folgendes probiert:

  • MusicBee –> c:\users\myid\music
  • MusicBee03 –> d:\var

Als Datenbank-Ordner wird dort ein Unterordner mit dem für die Datenbank vergebenen Namen angelegt. Also:

  • c:\users\myid\music\MusicBee
  • c:\var\MusicBee03

Letztlich werden aber alle Daten (Songs, Playlisten) in einer SQLite-Datenbank gespeichert, die sich im Datenbank-Ordner befindet und als Dateinamen MusicBeeLibrary.mbl hat.

SQLite Software

xxx

MusicBee als Streaming Server  (DLNA Server)

Bei MusicBee gibt es die Möglichkeit die Funktionalität mit  sog. Plugins zu erweitern.

Download Link: http://getmusicbee.com/forum/index.php?topic=14277.0

Installieren:

  1. Aus der Download-Datei mb_Upnp.zip das DLL-File mb_Upnp.dll  in den Unterordner “Plugins” der MusicBee-Installation kopieren.
  2. Das Plugin aktivieren in: Menü -> MusicBee -> Bearbeiten -> Einstellungen -> plugins

Konfigurieren: Menü -> MusicBee -> Bearbeiten -> Einstellungen -> Plugins

DLNA Clients

Für iOS

  • AcePlayer / AceMusic: Spielt einzelne Songs und  Playlisten; zeigt Playlisten im Listenformat an (Filename, Filegröße)
  • MLPlayer Lite: Spielt einzelne Songs und  Playlisten; zeigt Playlisten im Listenformat an (Titel, Cover, Format)
  • PlugPlayer: Spielt einzelne Songs und  Playlisten; zeigt Playlisten im Listenformat an (Titel, Cover, Interpret, Album)
  • MediaConnect:  xxxx

Für Android

  • UPnPlay: Spielt einzelne Songs und  Playlisten; zeigt Playlisten im Listenformat an (Titel, Cover, Interpret, Dauer)
  • MediaHouse UPnP / DLNA Browser: jaaa