Rules: a new approach to music library management
August 18, 2009 in digital music by Dan GravellI've made reference to 'rule based music library management' in previous blog posts. What does this mean? Fundamentally, rule based music library management changes the way digital music libraries are managed. Gone are the tedious, manual, error prone editing of music files. In its place, rule based management provides a fast, automated, consistent and correct approach.
The old way
Traditionally, digital music libraries are managed manually. The user decides how they want their music to be organised, works out what this means in terms of editing their music and then performs the editing.
For instance, you may decide they want to ensure all of your music fits inside eight defined genres. You must go through all of your music, ensuring each element of your library fits this goal. Later, if you want to add subgenres, or a new ninth genre, this means reorganising your entire library.
Popular software exists to manage music in this way, such as Mp3tag and Media Monkey.
How rule based management differs
Rule based management is very different. The user still formulates in their mind how they want their music library organised. However, they don't then go and apply this themselves. Instead, they describe their desired music library in the form of rules which govern the music on their behalf.
This reduces an enormous amount of the manual work involved in music library management. Indeed, large libraries require so much management it is the only approach that is feasible.
The obvious initial benefit is reduced time managing a library. Changing the way the music is organised is as simple as changing the rule. The rule then changes all the music on the user's behalf.
Further, rule based management eliminates inconsistencies and mistakes likely to creep in when manually organising a music library. To keep the library consistent the user must rigorously apply their desired policy to each music file in the library. Unfortunately, this is not one of the tasks humans are best suited for. We get bored and make mistakes (I know I do!). Software, on the other hand, is excellent at this, and thus software based rules remove the likelihood of making mistakes and introducing inconsistencies.
Practically, both approaches may be used. It makes little sense to ignore the excellent software already produced in this area. However, as music libraries become ever larger, our approach to managing them must change.
Rule based library management has a big part to play in the future of digital music library management.