Clean Up and Organize Your Music Library This Weekend

Clean Up and Organize Your Music Library This WeekendSo you've spent a lot of time discovering and downloading new music, but your library's a mess. You're still using the same player you used 5 years ago, the files are in 10 different places on your hard drive, and your metadata looks like a tornado hit it. Take some time this weekend to clean up your library once and for all.

Note: If you're using a streaming service like Spotify, you probably don't have much of a library to clean up—it's already done for you. This is more for the old school among us that are still carefully crafting a local library of ripped and downloaded songs. If you've sprinted into the streaming-only future, these tips probably aren't for you. But check out the last section to make sure you haven't missed anything the streaming world!

Step One: Pick Your Player

Clean Up and Organize Your Music Library This WeekendBefore you start messing with your music, take a look at what you use to play it and decide whether it's really what you want to use. Windows users have a ton of choices, from the all-around Winamp to the super-customizable foobar2000 and the insanely organized MediaMonkey (not to mention Windows Media Player, Zune Player, MusicBee, Clementine, and a whole host of others). Mac users have fewer choices, but that doesn't mean you have to settle for iTunes—take a look at Sonora, our new favorite music player for Mac, or the cross-platform Clementine. Linux users, you're lucky—you've got some of the best music players out there today, so dig into those repositories and try them out.

When it comes to portable players, most of you are using your phone these days. If you're an iPhone user, you're probably using the default iPod app—and with good reason, it's pretty solid and feature-filled. However, there are a lot of other fantastic apps you should try out, too. Android users have a ton of great apps, too, like the fantastic and powerful PowerAMP. If you aren't using iOS or Android, be sure to check out our five favorite digital music players for more inspiration.

Step Two: Clean Up That Mess You Call a Library

Clean Up and Organize Your Music Library This WeekendAlright, now it's time to dig into the good stuff. Step back and take a look at your library. Before even looking at the metadata, start searching for songs you don't want and delete them. Take a look at the bitrate of your files, too—are they really low quality? You might want to throw them out and re-import higher quality versions. Are you using lossless files? Find out whether it's really worth the effort by taking an ABX test. There's no reason to cultivate multiple music libraries at once if you don't have to.

Next, roll up your sleeves and start fixing all that messed up metadata. A lot of programs like TuneUp will do the legwork for you, but if you really have a certain way you want things done, it's going to be a multi-step process. You'll probably have to use a combination of programs like MusicBrainz Picard and Mp3tag to get things just the way you want them. Check out our start-to-finish guide to whipping your metadata into shape for more, and don't be afraid to experiment with different apps and techniques to find something that works for you.

Step Three: Sync Your Mobile Devices

Clean Up and Organize Your Music Library This WeekendNow that your library's in shape, it's time to sync it back down to your mobile device. Lots of programs—especially Windows ones—will have syncing built-in, which means you're already ready to go. If you're using Android, check out which desktop player is best for syncing. iOS users are mostly stuck with iTunes, but that doesn't mean you can't use another player for day-to-day listening. If you're a Mac user that doesn't use iOS, you're going to have a bit more trouble—check out iSyncr, Winamp, and DoubleTwist if you want to sync to Android, or Middleman for syncing to just about anything else. Lasly, iOS users should remember that even though iTunes doesn't support it, there are a lot of ways to get your music off your iPod and back on your computer if need be.

Don't stop at the mobile devices, either—if you have other computers in your house, you can sync your music library across all of them with Dropbox.

Step Four: Stream Your Library Anywhere

Clean Up and Organize Your Music Library This WeekendSo you've got a perfectly put together library for your home computer and your mobile devices, but what if you want your music elsewhere? The last thing you'll want to do is set up a music streaming service for those times when you can't have all 60GB of your library handy. We highly recommend setting up Google Music as your secondary media player: it's free, you can store your entire library on it (no matter how obscure your tracks), and even stream it to mobile devices that run Android or iOS. However, if you don't want to go through the trouble of uploading everything, you can also sync your library to services like Spotify and Rdio, both of which have a pretty solid selection of syncable music built-in. Check out our cloud music comparison to find the best service for listening to your library anywhere.

Lastly, it's worth mentioning that streaming your library across the house is also a pretty cool way to enjoy your music. We're big fans of Apple's AirPort Express and AirPlay here. And, even if you aren't an Apple fan, you can still make your entire home AirPlay compatible, no Mac and iOS loyalty required. Of course, there are a lot of AirPlay alternatives you can use, too. Whatever you decide, it shouldn't be hard to have your music handy wherever you go, even if your library's safely stored on your home machine.


Got any of your own tips for crafting the perfect music library? Share them with us in the comments.

Title photo remixed from Charlotte L.

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