Three tag types


This week: a thought experiment.

Consider this: there are three types of tags. Let's call them identification tags, structural tags and classification tags.

The first are the identification tags which identify musical entities, e.g. album name, artist name. Identification tags are immutable (their 'correct' values do not change). 'Year' is another example, because the release date of a given release does not change.

Structural tags store data referring to the structure of the works in a given release. Track numbers and disc numbers are an example of this. Because they reflect the structure of the media in a given release these, again, are immutable.

Classification tags are mutable tags that allow different, diverse music to be grouped by the value of the tag. For instance, multiple tracks can be tagged with a Classical genre. In some ways, this is where the most fun in tagging lies, because these tags allow us to be more subjective. Examples are genre, mood and rating tags.

Are there generalisations that we can apply to these types? Do all members of a type benefit from particular treatment?

Maybe some further inspiration will strike soon, but right now I think the most useful generalisation to take from this is relevant to music file organisation. Music files should only be organised using identification and structure tags (and values derived from those tags).

The inherent subjectivity of classification tags leads to possible changes in the future. This is bad news for music file organisation because you don't want to be changing your folder and file paths too frequently. Moving music files and folders often means rescanning your music players and re-synchronising your mobile players.

I'm sure there are some more ways we can apply these groupings. Something to come back to...

Thanks to JD Hancock for the image above.
tags: tags file folder
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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.