When I relied on my CD collection, organization kept me from going crazy. This was even more true when the media was LPs. I had thousands of them – still do, for the most part – and if I hadn’t kept them alphabetized, my enjoyment of them would have been seriously dimiished.
So I’m pleased to see one of the new, albeit less crowed about, features of iTunes 7. Click on the Album column a few times, and you’ll see it changes from Album to Album by Year and Album by Artist.
That’s how albums should be organized, but iTunes, like most brute force database solutions, didn’t take into account, so that when I clicked on Artist and scrolled to Beatles, different album titles would be mixed together.
With the new cover art view (still waiting for the automatic artwork download feature to work as advertised, it’s about 30 percent there), I can browse my collection by disc.
When I sort Album by Year, I’ll see With the The Beatles, followed by Beatles for Sale and so forth. This works even better with CD-only artists.
The program won’t allow you to sort all your albums by year – to see Sgt. Pepper followed by Are You Experienced, and then Atom Heart Mother for example, or drill down by a particular criteria – in the top level view.
But if you create a smart playlist, you can then organize within genres. This is handy if you have, say, a lot of folk music and a lot of punk/alternative, and you’d like to see just folk ordered by year of release.
Of course, the results you get when you click on the column are only as good as the data in your ID3 tags. To clean those up, there’s MusicBrainz, an open source tool that cleans up the messy metadata in your MP3 collection. If you P2P a lot, this is an essential tool.
Of course, you don’t P2P outside the boundaries of the DMCA, do you? That would be stealing.