Digital Music – From MediaMonkey to Spotify

by Brian B.

I mostly just wanted to give a shout-out to my favorite mp3 player : MediaMonkey.

MediaMonkey_logo_610

It’s unbelievable how great a job those guys have done building an mp3 player.   Does exactly what I want it to do, and was a great way for me to organize my vast mp3 collection.   I never understood what people like about iTunes.  Winamp was great, but I could never get the “library” to behave in a way that made sense to me; they still have a one-up on Media Monkey where they had a pefectly built “enque” feature that wouldn’t interrupt a “randomized” playlist.   Why is this still missing from every digital music player!

Let me rewind my music collection for clarity – In 1998 I thought BMG Music Club was just about the greatest thing in the world when it came to being able to get the music I love “on demand”.   I was warned to the point where I had that fear like the fear they put into you about getting a credit card and how it can “go horribly wrong”, but honestly it was a great deal. I had to buy something 1 CD for 17 bucks (including shipping), but the rest all cost 5 to 8 and over-all I was paying about $7/cd which is a great price for a decent album.  Being able to listen to whatever I want, whenever I want, this was the only way right?   Well, that and taping songs off the radio on a $60 stand-alone dual-cassette boom box, wait – was that piracy?   Young folks will never know that kind of “song craving” since every song is now on either youtube, Spotify or Pandora what-have-you.

So I bought a few hundred CDs in that late 90’s early 2000’s era, then something awful happened, I had a band called Aces Ashes and we had this rehearsal space, and one day my awesomely full rock catalog magically disappeared.   It was gut-wrenching, just as bad as when my first two guitars were stolen from a party a few years earlier.   I was so proud of that collection, had some “do-able” discographies like every Incubus album, and most of the Chili Peppers records, and suddenly vammoosh.

It was right around this time that I had started to rip my CDs, but hadn’t gotten too far.   Over time I was able to recreate a similar collection through various ways and means.   Not to get into specifics, but in my opinion, paying a legitimate business whatever price they had for a record should, ideally, provide lifetime listening to that record!

I like the idea of the CDs that you can buy now that come with a digital download copy of the entire album.   Because the CD won’t last a lifetime, but the mp3’s should so long as you manage your data on never more than 3 year old drives.

Spotify? I like what they’re doing.  I’m a little confused about how everything is free there, the commercials aren’t that bad.  I’m surprised I can go in and listen to most new albums without spending a penny.    If I had to pay 1 to 3 bucks to unlock each new album I wanted to hear, like the new Nine Inch Nails record that’s just come out, when it was in its first few months, I would do that!   I don’t like the idea of my favorite artists starving but its hard to imagine enough money going around if you don’t have to buy an album and you instead just have to listen to 3 commercials.   Are those 3 commercials heard over the course of an album-listening, or however many re-listens I offer it, generating the 10 to 15 bucks a record store used to take?

This gets me to my point of why I strongly prefer Media Monkey over Spotify, in Media Monkey I have a simple process, I immaculately title every mp3 like “Artist Name – Year – Album Name – Track # – Song Title.mp3”, and put them into their artist folder in the best-answer genre folder on my hard drive.   If the song needs to be re-titled or re-tagged in any way – I use a free program called TagScanner which is awesome.  Then I import it to the MediaMonkey library, which scans the mp3s for the ID3 tags.   I use an art-grabbing feature for anything that doesn’t have the album picture already in the ID3 so that I can really “see” my collection just like I could in 1999.

Inside MediaMonkey I then star-rate the songs, and for certain kinds of songs I’ll tag them on up to two axis’s – Mood and Quality – under mood I have these options available:

  • Upbeat
  • Mellow – For bleeding heart songs and chill-out tracks
  • Tranquil – For nice background music
  • Morose
  • Dramatic – I use this for ballads and anything that is too dramatic for a party
  • Sexy – Turn down the lights, yowza
  • Sexy Dinner – Turn down the lights and eat food without getting too weird
  • Aggressive
  • Schizo – For wacky moods

I use Quality to tag explicit, (duplicates), Unplugged (live acoustic), Acoustic (studio acoustic tracks), Top 40 (I try to avoid listening to these) and Top 100 (songs  that were probably overplayed or hits that I still can’t get enough of)

Well, this gives me awesome control – you can probably imagine how quickly I can put together a 90’s rock playlist of only songs that I like at least 3/5 stars with no dramatic, mellow, or duplicate songs, for example.  It’s awesome.  So kudos, MediaMonkey!  Hopefully someone still works on it on the weekends and one day I’ll be able to enqueue a song into my random playlist so that it definitely plays next without screwing up the randomness.  To compare back to Spotify, I have trouble remembering which songs on an album I really love, so it’s hard to listen to what I prefer, whereas in MediaMonkey, I can quickly drop the songs I’ve star-rated below a 3 from my playlist.

What do you prefer as your digital music delivery?!   You can comment or even write an article on this site if you like!

Thoughts?