Regardless of which iOS device you own, central to your music experience is a well organized music library. In our continuing series, we’ll help you manage, organize and get the most from your music library. We’ve covered how to fix artwork for your music files, but the source of that problem, not to mention others, is often incorrect tagging of your songs. While MP3 files are the most common, this issue can plague any of your music files, regardless of the format. By updating your music with the proper tags, it will enable greater efficiency when using Apple’s artwork finder and for matching songs when using iTunes Match. Here’s how to tag MP3 files or your other audio files using both free and paid software tools.
MP3 files, along with other popular formats, include a container that includes metadata. This stores important information including title, artist, album, track number, genre and more. Within iTunes, control-click (Mac) or right-click (PC) on a song, you’ll see all of the data associated with a music file. If you have any songs in your library named Track01, it usually means that you will benefit from tagging files.
Software applications use audio analysis on the waveform from a specific song, which acts as a fingerprint for a track. With that information, the respective app will source all of the relevant metadata, including album art. There are a number of paid options available, with many offering a free trial. If you have a smaller library, chances are you could get by using free trial software.
- TuneUp (Mac, PC $39.95 Annual Subscription, $49.95 One-Time Purchase)
- MediaMonkey (PC Free, $24.95)
- MP3Tag (PC)
- Tagalicious (Mac, PC, Free Trial)
For the purpose of this guide, I’ve chosen to utilize Tagalicious, which is available as a free trial from The Little App Factory’s website. Tagalicious opens your library and have a view that looks similar to iTunes. It also supports playlists, so using our tip on creating a smart list to find albums without artwork is a great way to target songs that need proper tagging.
Once you have identified a song, click on it and the application will analyze the audio and ID it based on the Gracenote database. It will provide you with an artwork recommendation, but you can also click on the album to see other options. When you are happy with your selection, the ‘Send to iTunes’ button does just that. It updates your music library with the proper ID tagging.
In the 80s, I accumulated a large number of CDs that over the years I ripped into iTunes. For years, it sat unattended. I continued to upgrade my iPhone year after year, but was syncing my poorly organized music library, with many tracks suffering from the dreaded missing artwork. I will say that it was no easy task to corral an out of control music library and although the applications above can assist you with properly tagging your music, it does require you invest time. On occasion, these applications can get things wrong, so it’s not a one-click solution. They will help you clean up your library, providing you with the proper tagging and a host of important metadata. The result will be a significantly upgraded music library that you’ll enjoy for years to come.
Have a favorite app for tagging your music? Let us know in the comments.