How I Catalogue My Music

How I catalogue my music has evolved since I first started doing it over 10 years ago. In this article I’ll share how I started and how things have changed.

My first compact disc player was a 21st birthday gift from my parents. The first album I listened to, also a gift, was I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got by Sinéad O’Connor.

Music was one of the first things I started cataloguing and there were several aspects to it.

First there was my collection of CDs. In 2009 I found a simple Windows application – Orange CD – which did the job well. The application made it easy to enter albums by barcode, by scanning the disc in the drive or manually. It also allowed the collection to be published online. At the time of writing my collection is still there.

Even before I finished cataloguing my CDs I’d begun to rip them to my PC’s hard disk. This was the 2nd aspect to cataloguing my music. Once all my CDs had been ripped, I had a digital version of the collection. I didn’t give much thought to how my digital collection was organised. By default albums are ripped to folders of the same name. Album folders sit inside artist folders. Doing something other than this default would simply have created more work.

When you have enough of them even compressed MP3 files take up too much space. I moved them over to the cloud after taking out my first Dropbox subscription in 2016. More recently I’ve moved all my files and folders to iCloud.

The 3rd aspect to my music cataloguing was certainly the easiest. Around the same time I started cataloguing my physical music collection, I also started to track my listening. The iPod Touch was already 2 years old and listening via apps was common. To begin with I “scrobbled” music using a custom app. In time Last FM was able to link to streaming services and track the music I listened to on those services.

It’s interesting to look at my listening trends over 12 years as a Last FM member. At the moment I don’t listen to much of anything. But there have been times when I’ve been a heavy user of streaming services. Anyone taking a close look will see a strangely eclectic library.

These days I still have physical CDs. But really I hold on to them as mementos. Before getting rid of more than half my collection I made playlists on Spotify of all the albums I owned. Whenever I want to enjoy the album in full I can now do so from my Spotify library.

Of course Spotify doesn’t have everything. So for those albums I owned that weren’t available I used an app called Cloudbeats. It’s a simple media player for cloud music files. Although it links to most of the main services when I moved to iCloud recently I discovered it wasn’t supported. I’ll need to find another solution to this in time but for now it’s not a big issue.

How I catalogue my music may have changed significantly since I started. But I continue to enjoy it and I remain on the lookout for improvements I can make.

Paul McCafferty @paulmccafferty