URNs for songs

I’ve had a bit of a traumatic weekend on the iPod sync. front. Before we headed to the US in 2004, I copied all of our music on to my old laptop and then on to our two iPods. Since then, we have gone through four life events:

In the meantime, I’ve downloaded a bunch of music (completely above board through iTunes, I hasten to add), and my wife has done the same. Different tunes of course, but tunes nonetheless.

All of this has meant that our three music collections (what should be the ‘master’ on my laptop, my iPod and that of my wife) have got out of sync.

Even more frustrating is that in the intervening two and a half years, Gracenote’s database entries for old stuff have changed slightly. Typos have been corrected, ands have changed to ampersands, regular parentheses (Disc 1) have become square [Disc 1] and so on. And not as rarely as you might think.

The net outcome of this is that I’m finding it very difficult to reconcile any two music sources. I’ve got spreadsheets into which I’ve copied library listings (one tab called "Old iPod", one called "New iPod" etc.) and I’ve created artificial unique names for each entry, stringing together song title with artist and album name. VLOOKUP shows me the songs that don’t match, but it doesn’t tell me whether this is because the track’s genuinely missing on one source, or whether Cigarettes and Alcohol is now Cigarettes & Alcohol.

Now I’m down to a list of 672 mis-matching tunes (were on old iPod, haven’t found their way to new iPod) from 119 CDs, 522 of which come from 50 albums. So I think I’ll target these and call it a day.

There are two big issues with iTunes.

Firstly, the DRM stuff is really frustrating. I own the tunes (either through download from iTunes or buying CDs), yet I am not allowed to copy them from one hard disk (the iPod) to another (the ‘puter).

And secondly, even if song details aren’t necessarily the same throughout their life due to the issues highlighted above, please give them unique reference numbers that stay constant. That way, I can easily and confidently establish the mis-match between two music sources, thus saving a whole day’s effort. Amazon uses (invented?) the ASIN (American Standard Identification Number) which sits at the product level. String a three-digit number on to the end of this, and you’re sorted.


2 Responses to “URNs for songs”

  1. Shanahan on February 4th, 2007 22:36

    Eh, couple of things. The A in ASIN is Amazon, not American.

    iPods are so restrictive in terms of what they can do but unfortunately 95% of the public never get past the “it’s trendy so I’ll buy one” brainwashing. Ever stop to think why you’re paying so much for something that doesn’t even have a radio?

    DRM is a complete mess which no one has figured out. Current implementations are geared solely at protecting the music company, not the consumer. Unfortunately you’ve been tricked (by Apple) into buying stuff that’s not really yours. Try a different player and forget iTunes. You’ll be much happier.

  2. Gav on February 5th, 2007 17:57

    Try using ephpod (http://www.ephpod.com/) to transfer music from any ipod back to the PC. Not sure how it will deal with the DRM problem but worth a go.

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