November 1, 2007

It's Worse Than Trying to Organize a CD Collection. Much, much worse.

I was originally going to write a whole lot about David Bowie, despite the fact that I don't have a strong opinion about him one way or the other. Musicians who are about the show first and the music second have never much interested me. So I will sum up what I was going to say that it wasn't until I was in Dublin in 1994 and spending late, drunken nights at this pickup joint called Major Tom's, that I investigated David Bowie a little further.

As an aside, the pickup joint I knew seems now to be Dublin's first and only Australian bar. Who knew there was even such a thing as an Australian bar?

So what I really want to talk about is the all-important topic of mp3 organization. (btw, can we all agree that mp3 is a useful shorthand for music files in general, whether they are actually in mp3 format or not?) Prior to downloading it for purposes of this blog, I did not own Ziggy Stardust. But I did own a 2-disc David Bowie singles collection saved neatly on my hard drive at My Documents>My Music>Zune>David Bowie>Singles Collection, Vol. 1 (and a separate folder for Vol. 2). Volume 1 included 3 of the songs from Ziggy Stardust.

So I was faced with a choice. I could download the entire album, in which case the Zune program would very neatly read the new album and place it in my library at with the album art in the directory which I set up My Documents>My Music>Zune>David Bowie>Ziggy Stardust. That would essentially waste hard disk space on copies of 3 songs already stored in the Singles Collection directory.

Another option was to just download the songs I did not have, and then create a playlist with all of the tracks in the correct order. The downside of this is that when looking at the album in the "album view" of Zune (or any other music player) it would appear to be incomplete. The 3 songs that are in the Singles Collection folder would seem to be missing. And to listen to the album I would have to click on the playlist I created. I would not be able to just click on the album. And were I to save the playlist to my Zune device and listen to it there, as the songs from the Singles Collection folder played, my Zune would display the Singles Collection album art, not the Ziggy album art.

So the choice is to "waste" disk space on 3 duplicate files (albeit with different tags) or to have the album saved all in once place for organization purposes. It's an issue that is going to keep coming up. I have every CD that the Angry Young Woman and I own ripped onto my hard drive. Many of those are greatest hits CDs and multi-disc anthologies from artists on the RS 500, like Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley, Ray Charles, Al Green, etc. As I obtain the actual full albums on the Rolling Stone list, if I download the whole thing every time (as I did with Ziggy) I am going to wind up with many, many instances of the same song saved in multiple directories with different tags. That's potentially a lot of disk space "wasted" on duplication.

Although as I write this I now realize a third option.: I could have downloaded only those tracks I didn't have, re-tagged the 3 tracks from the Singles Collection and moved them to the Ziggy folder. So in the album view it would be the anthology that would be missing tracks, not Ziggy.

I wouldn't really even need to create a playlist for the now-depleted anthology because if it's just a collection of singles, what difference does it make if a song or 3 is missing from a 40 song collection?

On the other hand, there are certain anthologies, like the Bob Marley Songs of Freedom 4-Disc set, that I would not want to break up in that fashion. Which leaves me right back at my original dilemma of wanting to be a completist with my albums but not wanting duplicate tracks on my hard drive. This is also the most time-consuming option, because it involves re-tagging the three tracks to match the downloaded Ziggy tracks.

How do other people deal with this issue? It must come up for people all the time.


TheAngryYoungMan said...

Commenting on my own post, I note that it went live based upon the date that I began writing it, 10/23/07, even though it was only today, Halloween, that I got around to finishing it.

Ancient Scientist said...

Angryyoungman - that post was so angryyoungman. I hope that you have resolved your issues so that you could listen to the music. For my 2 cents, I think you should just download the whole thing as an album.

venerableseed said...

just listen to it streaming on

TheAngryYoungMan said...

Oops. I should have noted in my post that I did indeed download the whole album. So I now have duplicates of the 3 songs that are also on the singles anthology.

One other x-factor to consider is whether the songs are in fact identical. There are often slight variations between the versions of songs on anthologies and greatest hits packages and those on the studio albums.

LenBarker said...

I have made a regular habit of cannibalizing compilations in order to complete albums while paying for fewer downloads.

Audrey said...

I know this comment is late in coming in. But I have to say that if all you're worried about is the storage space, it is damn cheap! Your time and psychic energy are far more precious. Don't stress, man. Download the whole goshdarn thing! But if you're buying, follow Len's lead...