Tags and case

What the SHIFT Happened?

Let's go back to when bliss was a forming, still amorphous idea of some software to fix inconsistencies in a music collection. The first time I explained it to my wife she responded quite differently to what I expected. Instead of eyes glazing over her first response was "great, will it fix the inconsistent capitalisation in our music?".

We all have our different pain points which arouse the inner OCD within us. For her, and quite a few other people, inconsistent or plain incorrect letter case can be a real annoyance when browsing your music library.

Indeed, if you've ever wondered about capitalisation, you're not alone. All the major online databases take the subject seriously!

Let's take the case (sorry) of track names as we consider what types of case inconsistency exist.

Before I continue, I am aware of the irony of discussing correct capitalisation when my own product name, "bliss", breaks standard capitalisation rules. All I can say is: it's about having a choice!

Intra-tag

Taking any one track name in isolation, it can be easy to spot case inconsistencies. For example:

Like a rolling Stone

For some inexplicable reason the 'r' in 'rolling' is not capitalised, whereas all of the other initial letters are. This doesn't follow any standard capitalisation styles.

Case styles vary, but there are a number of standard styles. Taking these as inspiration gives us:

LIKE A ROLLING STONE
Like A Rolling Stone
Like a Rolling Stone
Like a rolling stone

ALL CAPS makes my eyes bleed, so that's a bad idea. The last one, sentence case, feels wrong for a title of a song. Personally, given this is a title, I vouch for the consistency of the second option, where all initial letters are in upper case. I know many that would opt for the penultimate option, however.

The same goes for album names, artist names and any other tags, of course. Depending on the nature of the tag, some tags may require different case styles.

Inter-tag

Creating inter-tag case style consistency is making sure that the case style you decide for one tag is applied to the other tags of the same type.

Taking the Highware 61 Revisited example further, consider the potential track name inconsistencies:

Like a rolling Stone
Tombstone blues
It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry

Keeping your case styles consistent is a matter of applying your case rules throughout your music library. This takes a lot more work than just deciding what your preferred style is and fixing it for one tag. This might mean hundreds of changes.

Consider the artist

While it's fine idea to impose custom case styles to titles in your music collection, it's also worth considering whether you are meant to. I speak, of course, of musical artists and their sometimes liberal approach to case rules.

Artists like OutKast or eels, album titles like CrazySexyCool and tracks like tourette's (from In Utero) prove that artists have an infinite capacity to break your title case conventions.

Arguably, you should defer to artistic intent.

How to fix

Naturally, this is an ideal feature for bliss, and one that's already been suggested. If you want to see it implemented, please vote for it!

It's possible to use manual taggers like MP3Tag and others too. These allow you to edit the tags, which is obviously the first step, but they also tend to have a semi-automatic 'action' capability to convert a batch of tags. Here's how to change case with MP3Tag and here's how to do it in puddletag.

I hope these thoughts and tips help keep the OCD monster at bay!

Thanks to cogdogblog for the image above.
tags: tags tagging case
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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.