Sort out your digital life, get ready to tag

We all know tagging is important, right?  After observing a friend spend endless hours submerged in iTunes, meticulously tagging and rating their music collection track by track, I realized I was naive to think most online music distributors tag their files correctly. You know your digital life is a mess when you see files called ‘Track 01.mp3’ only to open it up and reveal the tag displays ‘track 1 – unknown artist’. Never fear, I am going to explain what tagging is and a suggest a tool you can use to make your life easier.

What are ID3 tags?

Tags allow useful information such as the title, artist, album, track number, and other information to be stored within a music file. To keep things simple, I am going to deal with ID3 Version 1 tags. Don’t worry, it’s not overly complicated. Type 1 tags are the most basic, but most common and useful tags. Here is a list of the fields available with ID3 Version 1 tags:

  • Title – The name of the track
  • Artist – The artist’s name
  • Album – The album or EP name
  • Year – The year of release
  • Comment – A note about the music
  • Track – Track number
  • Genre – The type of music, chosen from a set list covering most genres

Why should I tag my music collection?

There are a number of reasons to tag your files. Your music player is capable of searching by tag, so if you’re in the mood for some Jazz, it will list all the tracks in your collection that have Jazz stored in the Genre field. If you wish to promote indie record labels, your friend’s garage band or a Netlabel you can use programs like Audioscrobbler a free online service that tracks your listening habits by reading ID3 tags and displays your top artists and recent tracks for all to see and share. Independent record labels or producers will get a little more exposure as their play count increases and depending on the service they might even be paid a few cents for each play.

How do I tag my MP3 files?

A multitude of tagging software exists. I highly recommend EasyTag. EasyTAG is a utility for viewing and editing tags for MP3, MP2, MP4/AAC, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, MusePack, Monkey’s Audio and WavPack files. The intuitive interface makes tagging easier under Mac OS X, GNU/Linux and Windows. You can add images to files and its built-in CDDB support and powerful file renaming utility are a breeze. Better still, it’s well maintained and is completely free.

How to use EasyTag?

The EasyTag main window is split into two parts: a file browser on the left, and the tag editor on the right. When you select a directory EasyTag automatically scans each file within the directory. You have the choice of selecting one or more files to edit. This is a powerful feature as you can edit a particular tag field for multiple files at the same time. You can preview your changes before saving. Check out the EasyTag help or documentation for more details.

EasyTag is powerful tool for keeping your music collection in order, enabling you to find your favorite tracks quickly and access all the information about them. A tagged music collection is a happy music collection.


3 responses to “Sort out your digital life, get ready to tag”

  1. Dan Gravell says:

    Hey Warren – I agree, EasyTag is pretty good. I used it because I run Linux, and it’s one of the few decent ones around (also see: puddletag).

    However, I write a tool which performs tagging but in a different way. It’s called bliss: bliss organises your music library by rules. Rules are better for large libraries because they ‘scale’ better (you set them once) and they allow control over intra-library consistency.

    It can also find album art and consolidate genres. I wondered if the readers of Invisible Agent would find this useful, and you could thus write a review?

  2. Dan,
    Bliss certainly looks very interesting. It’s features are very rich and I am looking forward to testing it out. Moving files feature is a serious attraction for me.

  3. […] few weeks ago I posted an article about ID3 tags and I recommended Easy Tag. Shortly afterwards I was contacted by Dan Gravell who was kind enough to give me a copy of Bliss. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *