MusicDNA and iTunesLP - won't someone think about consistency?

Recently, new ways of packaging digital music have been developed that promise to improve the all-round experience of digital music. Traditionally, digital music would be delivered in a digital music file, for instance an MP3, which is 'tagged' internally with information about the track, artist, album and so on. These tags are static, but can be changed with a tag editor.

The recent announcement of MusicDNA
shows that the music industry is thinking about how these tags are formulated and represented. MusicDNA allows tags to be updated online. This would allow for novel new applications of tags, for instance providing information about upcoming tour dates for your favourite band. This is accomplished with a new, but backwards compatible, file format.

Another new approach to music packaging is iTunesLP. Rather than a different file format, this is a different approach to packaging tracks together. A group of individual tracks, for example constituting an album, are packaged together in one file alongside other media of interest, such as album art, videos, a self contained website and so on. Some of these are really quite impressive and take the album experience in different directions, just like great album art used to.

Both of these new packaging approaches offer useful and fun features for music consumers. Further, the tagging is likely to be accurate and complete as the music has been delivered by an authoritative source. However, they don't answer some of the deeper existing problems inherent when managing digital music libraries.

How do I ensure consistency across my music library? How can I be sure purchasing a new album won't introduce another meaningless genre I have to include in my playlists? Will compilations be tagged correctly for the different music players I use? How do I know the special way my mobile phone shows album art is catered for?

One way to ensure consistency would be to purchase all music from one source. However, that's unlikely to be practical or desirable (not to mention anti-competitive), doesn't actually offer any control over how a music library is semantically organised anyway, and finally does not help manage a music lover's existing art.

I can't help but think that while the industry may have found a new way to sell concert tickets and promote their acts, they still don't care about digital music collectors and their collections.

New file formats are helpful, but issues of consistency in music libraries remain.
tags: musicDNA files iTunesLP formats
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The Music Library Management blog

Dan Gravell

I'm Dan, the founder and programmer of bliss. I write bliss to solve my own problems with my digital music collection.