Articles: "Unknown Artist" No More
One of the true powers of iTunes and digital music is that it's searchable. As personal music libraries grow to thousands of songs, they would be cumbersome to use if people could not search by a multitude of song data. Many of us have been listening to MP3s since the 90s, long before song names and other information were automatically filled in for us. Back then we were probably a little sloppy with our labeling. Like many of you, I have old MP3 files with missing album info or shorthand spellings. Worst of all, some MP3s I imported from homemade mix CDs and now I'm clueless as to what songs they are. Next to my nicely indexed new song files those old MP3s are mostly ignored. Often I have wished for some all-knowing music zombie to go through iTunes and correct my MP3 data tags. At last someone wrote that zombie application and it is called iEatBrainz.
iEatBrainz is a Mac application that listens to the music in your iTunes library and checks its unique sound against a database to find a match and return the song's data tags. In appearance it is similar to the way the song info of a CD is displayed when you play it in iTunes, but behind the scenes it is far more impressive. When you put a CD into iTunes it uses the number of tracks and length of songs to communicate with the CDDB and find a match. That is why sometimes you have to pick between two different albums after inserting a CD. In those cases, two CDs happen to have the same number of tracks and the same song lengths. That initial information from the CDDB is imbedded into digital song files. After the songs are separated from the CD, it is difficult to get the information matched with the song again without manually editing the song files. The difference between the CDDB and the database at MusicBrainz.org (the database that iEatBrainz uses) is that MusicBrainz's database identifies the song's sound fingerprint. It doesn't matter if the song was recorded from the radio or a CD. As long as it is the same song and MusicBrainz.org has the fingerprint, it will find the info you need.
The implementation of iEatBrainz could only be made simpler if it were directly integrated into iTunes as a single button. When you open the application you are greeted with a very iTunes-looking window. A big button in the top right reads "Choose Songs..." and clicking it opens a pop-down window of your iTunes library. You can search trough your library, but there is a new Smart Playlist in this window labeled as "Missing Fields." Just select all the songs in that Playlist and click the "Add to Tagging List" button. You can then select more files, perhaps ones where you know the wrong info is used, and then click the "Done" button. As soon as you get back to the main window, iEatBrainz will start listening to your selected songs and making music fingerprint matches. As with CDDB, there are multiple matches, so you are able to look at your options to see if there is a better fit than the default selection. When you are satisfied, click the "Update iTunes with all matched songs" button. Those songs will then be permanently updated with all that missing info. Most importantly, it will be searchable from now on.
MusicBrainz.org is a community-generated database and not every song is going to be fingerprinted, but all you have to do is keep checking back, it grows daily. Eventually someone is going to fingerprint your missing songs, and then you will be 100% searchable. You also have the ability of making other peoples' MP3 tagging complete by contributing your time to fingerprint your properly tagged song files and upload them to the database. Remember to give back more than you take. That is how these databases grow and prosper.
The people who need iEatBrainz knew it by the second paragraph of this article. There is something about this application that exemplifies technology working for you. Not because the task is enormous, but because it fixes a small annoyance with style and ease. Solving small problems is what good programs should do. Over-ambitious programs are often too complicated to use, while the simple apps consistently take care of business.
What does this great program cost? Well it's "Free.99..." but worth much more.