I’ve been working on my basement redesign for a good part of the summer in varying forms and degrees of engagement. In particular, I’ve gone hard on the setup and redesign in the last five days, with a complete revamp, new wiring for internet connections, design hacking of Ikea designs, and even taking a jigsaw to literally hack three desks for cord management notches (thanks to Andrea for the inspiration!).
And while I’ve enjoyed the success of the new layout so far, there is still lots to do. I had hoped to finish this weekend, but that is looking unlikely at this point. Maybe by the end of next week. I was very happy to see three large pieces of furniture vacate the premises today — two large coffee tables that Jacob used to use for train setups and the old TV stand that I replaced recently. Again, thanks to Andrea.
But I’m getting close to “reorg-ed” out. I really just wanted to play with something simple tonight. I needed a palate cleanser. Something mildly interesting yet still productive.
Cleansing the palate
I checked my never-ending to do list, and Apple Music jumped out at me.
I blogged not too long ago about the fact that I uploaded all of my music to Apple Music, and I have to say, it was a complete sh** show by Apple Music. Oh, sure, the files UPLOADED. All of them, which is more than other hosting agents did (I’m glaring at you, YouTube Music!).
But the resulting library was TERRIBLE for organization. Tons of files got moved around, album information was lost, it was “mucho meh”. And totally unusable. The resulting library in Apple Music looked like file storage created by monkeys on typewriters trying for the works of Shakespeare. Heck, they might have been writing 50 Shades of Gray and got a little too excited, I don’t know, but it was messy.
So, tonight, just for fun amongst the file nerds, I reverted the uploads i.e. I deleted all of it from the iTunes upload. Sure, I kept a bunch of playlists and anything I’ve purchased directly, but the rest? Gone. I’m starting over with my separate music library, and rather than upload all of the songs at once, I’ll do a bit at a time over the next year. If your memory of earlier posts is good, you’ll recall that I do not let Apple manage my whole music library, no matter how much they promise they won’t mess it up. Instead, I keep a folder of my Music Masters that is totally separate from whatever Apple and iTunes insist on doing.
Just to get me started, I pulled up a simple Christmas Collection by Bing Crosby. All of the songs are by Bing, there is ONE song on it that includes Danny Kaye. When I uploaded the collection the first time, it separated it into four different folders. One folder under Bing’s name with about 7 songs in it, one folder under Various with about 3 songs in it, one folder under Danny Kaye (it overrode Bing) for just their one shared song, and another folder for about 5 songs where it decided the artist was White Christmas, there was no album name, and the years etc. for all of them were different.
Now, in fairness to Apple Music, I know WHY it did it. Because it isn’t a real album. It’s a collection I got from someone at some point, or maybe Andrea did, I don’t know, and it has 16 songs by Bing. About 10 of them overlap with the White Christmas soundtrack, so Apple liked matching to that album. Even for songs that WEREN’T on the soundtrack. The one with Danny Kaye was partially right. And it was perhaps random guessing on the rest.
Can I stop it from guessing? Sure. I just have to fix all the metadata fields BEFORE I upload it into the library.
Which I did. And then Apple Music decided that “Christmas Collection” was REALLY “The Christmas Collection”, an album by the same name, relabelled everything to Various Artists at the album level, kept everything at the song level to be Bing as the individual artist, and basically filed it in weird ways so that I will never find it. Grrr…again, maybe not all Apple Music’s fault. I didn’t fix ALL of the metadata first.
Okay, so I need to work the bugs out of the workflow. I deleted it from iTunes, went back to my Music Masters, opened up ALL the meta data in one box, assigned and tweaked it for the full collection of 16 songs, recopied it over to Apple’s intake folder, let Apple’s algorithm have wild monkey sex with the files, and voila, one collection safely ensconced in Apple Music. Just in time for Christmas.
Now that I know the “secret” process to do, many of the others will be able to be done in bulk. Still, a bit annoying. On the other hand, all my metadata will get cleaned up, as well it should be, right? Or at least so says the archivist in me as it rattles its cage and whispers for freedom, food and unlimited tags.
In the meantime, I wanted to also see how well things worked for downloads. I’ll have to be a bit vague or opaque here as I am not entirely sure that what I did was completely legit. There are a few extra steps involved, a few clicks here and there, and a couple of new pieces of software to help me manage the collections better, but it all worked reasonably well enough.
For some reason, I thought I would start with the album called Best of Sass Jordan. I’ve been listening to Alannah Myles’ self-titled album, and Apple Music thought I might enjoy BoSJ. I thought, “Probably not”, as my musical tastes are, umm, eclectic at best (or as my wife says, non-existent), but I actually quite like it. I wouldn’t have thought she’d have a full album of material that I would like, I’m often more about individual songs than an artist, but I can listen to it quite easily while working on other things. If anything, it is too short! I’ll have to expand my Sass Jordan repertoire.
Resetting my brain
While the above likely seems really nerdy, or anal-retentive and time consuming, it actually wasn’t. I was doing other stuff while some of the files were processing, like playing some turn-based word games with Jacob and Andrea, finishing laundry, etc. But I wanted a small puzzle to solve to just clear the cognitive pipeline and fixing my Apple Music setup was just the thing.
I even risked going down a rabbit hole to try adding some customized artwork for personal collections as I have some templates in Powerpoint that I am using for another purpose that would work great here, and Apple let me use my OWN artwork quite easily. Two clicks, done. Sweet.
Today I choose to cleanse the palate with a small puzzle to be solved to take my mind off the basement re-org that I’ve been working on for awhile.
What choices are you making today?