Simon and Lind­say: EasyTAG is indeed a use­ful tool for tag­ging many music files at once. While EasyTAG does auto­mate a lot of the work, it is still quite a labor­i­ous pro­cess. This really grinds when you’re try­ing to man­age a large music col­lec­tion. What if your tag­ger worked more like your ears and brain — it just listened to the music and worked out what song was playing?

Enter Picard, stage left.

Picard ‘listens’ to your music and ascer­tains an audio fin­ger­print of each track. Using this inform­a­tion, along with more tra­di­tion­al data such as exist­ing file­names and tags, it con­sults vari­ous online sources to deduce the details of the track and pop­u­late the metadata fields. I’ve found the res­ults to be amaz­ingly accur­ate. Some­times it finds mul­tiple matches, and it can occa­sion­ally get con­fused if the same track is avail­able on dif­fer­ent albums (e.g. a single, an ori­gin­al album and a ‘best-of’ com­pil­a­tion). If you have some idea of what the track is, you can lend Picard a hand by manu­ally adding a more use­ful file­name or some tags. This is where EasyTAG works well with Picard, since Picard isn’t geared towards manu­al tag edit­ing. Still, it’s bloody impress­ive nonetheless.

As an album-based tag­ger, Picard behaves some­what dif­fer­ently from file-based tag­gers like EasyTAG. It can take some get­ting used to, and it might be less accur­ate for people who prefer to col­lect single songs and not entire albums. If you’re like me and do com­pile full albums, it can do clev­er things like ascer­tain that you have the ‘White Album’ (or part of it) if it sees ‘While My Gui­tar Gently Weeps’ as well as ‘Revolu­tion 9′. The developers have recog­nised that the UI does need some love, but once you’re used to it it isn’t too bad.

Picard is a mass-tag­ger, so drag a whole stack of music files onto it and watch it do its work. It’ll try and group your music into albums. To cor­rect alloc­a­tions, drag their entries to arrange them in the way you please (or drag them away if noth­ing is suit­able). Depend­ing on how eso­ter­ic your music tastes are, you should find that most tracks are handled fairly accur­ately. If you sign up for a MusicBrainz account, you can sub­mit your changes for oth­ers to benefit.

Addendum: If you’re using Ubuntu, don’t for­get to install lib­tun­epimp5-mp3 for MP3 support.

LotD: Excel­lent speech by Nich­olas Negro­ponte on One Laptop Per Child. I would espe­cially recom­mend that the naysay­ers listen to it.

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