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egd
2007-05-13, 06:12
I've been a Slimdevices customer for some time now, own two SB3s and a Transporter, and use a combination of slimserver, MusicIP and mp3tag with Allmusic web sources to manage and enjoy a large audio collection.

Whilst I'm extremely satisfied with the "hardware" aspects of the solution (ie using SB3/Transporter as a transport and controlling same via PC or remote) and resulting audio quality, I'm increasingly finding myself frustrated that slimserver's interface for all intents and purposes forces me to treat my music collection as a black box. MusicIP does allow me to work around this to some extent in that it makes for great playlists, however, I find neither interface to be conducive to visually "exploring" my music, much like I did back in the days of the physical LP and CD. In short they both have their uses, but neither are a decent front-end with which to manage a music library.

Perhaps I'm asking for too much (I guess it is early days), but what I would like is a standalone music management application that puts my albums back in my hands, it's focus must be on browsing my music library, selecting music by genre, subgenre, style, mood etc, have the ability to link artists to one another/bands etc. and expose relationships within my collection. It should incorporate MusicIP's SDK to allow acoustic playlisting, as well as create playlists based on mood, style, genre, artist etc. It must be able to print my collection, sorted by the criteria of my choosing, optionally include cover art, track listings etc., list all occurrences of a song etc. etc. Finally, it must be able to talk to slimserver's CLI to control the SB3s and Transporter.

Imagine a content rich application that allows you to instantly see artist biographies and album reviews as you browse through your collection, jump from one album to another related artist or album, select more like, less like, generate playlists using the current album / track, mood, style etc. as a seed while you browse, drag and drop to playlists, mark favourites, collect play stats etc.

To my knowledge there's nothing like this out there. There are myriad "music managers", but none that seem to fit the bill and even fewer that talk to slimserver. Am I off the beaten track or does what I'm describing sound like something you'd find damned useful?

amcluesent
2007-05-13, 06:32
Plus, must handle classical music properly!

>To my knowledge there's nothing like this out there<

Wait until slimserver 7 ships with Jive, then start that coding!

egd
2007-05-13, 06:57
Plus, must handle classical music properly!

>To my knowledge there's nothing like this out there<

Wait until slimserver 7 ships with Jive, then start that coding!

I last coded eons ago, but I'm sure I can learn and would be happy to assist on a project of this nature.

I truly believe that it is the richness of the user experience through software and touchscreen / remote technology, content and ease of use that is going to decide who wins in this game. The Squeezebox is a fantastic product but not full featured enough to make it a credible mainstream competitor (ducks for cover). Whilst it is currently early days, it is clear things are shifting to digital content. As this shift becomes mainstream the market will be flooded with many technically inferior offerings that will however offer more in the way of the richness I have referred to. Capturing that market (even if only aimed at the higher-end of that market) is going to require something more than Slim / Logitech offer today. I would have a long, hard look at wrapping a solution around an Allmusic lasso/tapestry tie in. It would make the squeezebox downright unbeatable.

Pale Blue Ego
2007-05-13, 07:05
There are some apps that show promise. Look at Jinzora, for instance:

http://www.jinzora.com/index.php

egd
2007-05-13, 07:45
There are some apps that show promise. Look at Jinzora, for instance:

http://www.jinzora.com/index.php

For some reason the website is incredibly slow. I'll give it a spin in the AM.

Stumbled on an interesting article which I think gives some indication of where things are headed iro digital music: http://www.cedailynews.com/2007/04/exclusive_inter.html

Skunk
2007-05-13, 08:04
Perhaps I'm asking for too much (I guess it is early days), but what I would like is a standalone music management application that puts my albums back in my hands, it's focus must be on browsing my music library, selecting music by genre, subgenre, style, mood etc, have the ability to link artists to one another/bands etc.

I don't think it's asking too much (and don't think it's the early days). The Transporter is impressive, but R&D should have been _poured_ into the interface before its release. Otherwise, people might have a great piece of kit, but still feel (somewhat) cheated.

That said, the architecture of the server/client is utterly brilliant. It is great not to be locked into a particular skin, and to have plugins to help where slimserver falls short- But frankly, I don't want to have to install a plugin to make a playlist! There is really no excuse for the default interface not being the best one, because there must be at least one person being paid to make it so. I realize drag-n-drop is asking for a lot, but is there even a way to add to a playlist while playing an album? If I'm not mistaken, a third frame would be required (like Media Monkey), or perhaps status.html could have a dropdown menu to switch to other info... like playlists (and 'add' should default to the open playlist).

In a lot of ways the pieces are all there but not really linked, or at least thought out. Clicking an album cover in the song info panel opens the cover in a new browser. I'd prefer nothing, like Fishbone. OTOH, there are a million things you could do there. E.g. load multiple covers/photos from an art directory stored inside the album directory.

I believe most of the problem is that there hasn't been a lot of skin development from a team of programmers and designers, which is a project that would seem to beg for such collaboration, and be hard for an individual to accomplish/maintain, yet individuals have outperformed the slimdevices team (on the interface front) for years. Perhaps this was by design in the past, and such as winamp's default skin is hardly the best one, Slimdevices were hoping the community would take over. However, they say first impressions are the truest, and I think, for the sake of profitability if nothing else, the default skin should leave a good one. So good, in fact, that it makes nerds feel cool AND stupid people feel smart.

Hopefully it's all moot and Slimserver 7 pans out to be the second coming, but somehow I doubt it (at least not for the default interface from what I can tell). At the risk of suggesting something dead in the water, what I propose is a community designed open source skin, whose progress and design is charted in the wiki. That, or sending massive amounts of cash to whoever can make it better than *Tunes.

egd
2007-05-13, 08:40
At the risk of suggesting something dead in the water, what I propose is a community designed open source skin, whose progress and design is charted in the wiki. That, or sending massive amounts of cash to whoever can make it better than *Tunes.

Have a look @ http://tapestry.allmusic.com/ to get an idea of the kind of web-based playlisting that can be accomplished with the right metatada and a considered UI.

Skunk
2007-05-13, 09:16
Have a look @ http://tapestry.allmusic.com/ to get an idea of the kind of web-based playlisting that can be accomplished with the right metatada and a considered UI.

That's TMI IMO, which brings up something I've always thought would be nice: a content management system for the web interface (like an elaborate version of being able to resize the frame in Fishbone). Even a simple style sheet selector for printing your collection or party/jukebox mode would be a welcome addition. The ability to tag the files 'depressed' or 'manic' would be great too though.

egd
2007-05-13, 14:12
That's TMI IMO, which brings up something I've always thought would be nice: a content management system for the web interface (like an elaborate version of being able to resize the frame in Fishbone). Even a simple style sheet selector for printing your collection or party/jukebox mode would be a welcome addition. The ability to tag the files 'depressed' or 'manic' would be great too though.

Pardon my ignorance, TMI?

From what I understand Allmusic already have their content available via Lasso http://www.allmediaguide.com/lasso/, and it includes CD TOC recognition and acoustic analysis. Couple that with its Tapestry technology and you've got everything you could want. In other words, everything is already out there, it just needs an end-user application built around it, assuming of course that AMG's licensing costs aren't prohibitive. In any event, irrespective of an AMG tie-in, the ability to store and leverage this kind of metadata would be fantastic and beat anything else out there. I can envisage a scenario whereby the ability to populate metadata from AMG is an opt-in subscription based service. If you choose not to opt-in you still have the ability to manually or otherwise capture the data, meaning you still have a great front-end for managing/experiencing your audio library.

adamslim
2007-05-13, 15:43
The Slim system is much better than anything else I have used - the ability to browse sensibly by multiple entries in a field allows such flexibility. I'm happy to spend hours (about two today) improving my tags to make my browsing richer.

However, I agree totally that it should be improved. In threads discussing SB4s and the like, I have often expressed the need for improvements to the software and interface; the hardware is fine (indeed the architecture is such that all the improvements needed are software, which is great for existing users).

So specifically?
- As mentioned before, the ability to browse related info. I am about to retag my music with links, but the ability to search would be so cool.
- Better skins, obviously - I think it's great that the system is open for others to contribute, but surely Slim/Logitech should produce a couple of dozen for us to choose from? Even a configurable system of what buttons we want?
- Browsing by classical music fields has been requested for ages. Why so long? It is no more work than artist or album, so why do I need to spend ages configuring third party plugins?
- A handheld device to control everything, like a Sonos remote, that is a wifi tablet with dedicated buttons

There's nothing here that is a huge change - there is such a lot of potential in the SD system, but we should be realising it by now. I do hope that the Logitech acquisition pushes the emphasis towards the user experience with the forthcoming releases, rather than just some SB4 that is just kinda different looking but no real change. They could take over the (audio) world.

Adam

Skunk
2007-05-13, 17:52
Pardon my ignorance, TMI?


It's probably I who is ignorant, but it meant too much information.

I don't particularly want anything connecting to the internet so my songs can be tagged warm, earthy, or rebellious. I'm also positive I don't want them telling me what might be good music for when i'm feeling blue, or going on a road trip.

A good playlist editor might make custom browsing less important, but the ability to add to the database in a way other than scanning file tags would be nice. Is it really that hard to populate the database through text input boxes? This is another way I'd like to see slimserver treated more like a web site with content management. One thing I like to do when browsing album art is right click in firefox>show only this frame, which is about as far as I can manage the content currently.

egd
2007-05-13, 20:58
In threads discussing SB4s and the like, I have often expressed the need for improvements to the software and interface; the hardware is fine (indeed the architecture is such that all the improvements needed are software, which is great for existing users).

Agreed, I'm 100% comfortable with the hardware aspect, and even the slimserver aspect insofar as it allows one to control the Squeezebox. However, as an audio library management system Slimserver leaves a lot to be desired.

I would like to see a standalone, platform independent application that:

Maintains either its own or utilises an enhanced slimserver database schema allowing the addition and maintenance of metadata
Allows manual creation / automated retrieval of metadata from Allmusic Tapestry and optionally adds selectable metadata to tags rather than just the DB
Incorporates an interface to acoustic analysis from MusicIP and/or Allmusic Lasso
Enables playlist generation using Allmusic Tapestry and acoustic analysis whether it be MusicIP's or Allmusic Lasso
Lets me visually browse my music collection and associated metadata. I imagine a tab based window structure with artists listed in a pane, followed by Biography and Albums tabs
Highlighting an Artist in the pane brings up their Biography and fills the Album tab with the albums covers of the albums you have for that artist
Selecting or mousing over an album cover shows the tracklist and album review somewhere in the same tab
You have the option of playing the album, a random selection of songs by that artist or selecting song(s) from the album to seed a metadata or acoustic analysis based playlist
you can view all tracks by artist sorted by album, year, collaborator etc.
you can right click and find all instances of the song in your collection
at the click of a button you can instantly retrieve and store/update allmusic metadata for every album in your collection (or only those you have selected), this is done automatically for new albums [should you configure it so]
Everything you can see from your PC screen can also be seen via a touchscreen wireless remote of your choosing - so long as it can access slimserver and has sufficient screen real estate
Allmusic Lasso and Tapestry integration is built in, but access to their data may be subscription based, or use some other suitable licensing arrangement. If you choose not to opt-in the functionality is still there and you can tag and add content to the DB manually, however, the base functionality remains, it may just be that you have no metadata [because you choose not to capture it], or that you have manually captured your metadata

I could go on and on, talk about Genre's etc. but I guess you get the idea [...wipes drool from chin].

I appreciate that a lot of this may sound grandiose, hard to implement etc, however, I'm damned sure it would work a treat and provide a very compelling proposition to the market if pursued. The building blocks already exist [slimserver, Allmusic Lasso, Allmusic Tapestry, MusicIP], all that is required now is the willingness and courage to make it happen.

egd
2007-05-13, 21:17
It's probably I who is ignorant, but it meant too much information.

Thanks, hadn't seen that one before.


I don't particularly want anything connecting to the internet so my songs can be tagged warm, earthy, or rebellious. I'm also positive I don't want them telling me what might be good music for when i'm feeling blue, or going on a road trip.
It would be opt-in, so no need to use it if you didn't see any benefit in it. Also, the metadata would be added to the database, not necessarily your file tags. I think it could create amazing playlists and nothing stops you from selecting your own tracks/albums etc. Their online demo makes for some impressive playlisting. I presume you're not a fan of MusicIP?


Is it really that hard to populate the database through text input boxes?
Absolutely agree -see my previous post.

egd
2007-05-16, 05:06
Anyone up for starting this as a development project?

mherger
2007-05-16, 07:25
> In other words,
> everything is already out there, it just needs an end-user application
> built around it, assuming of course that AMG's licensing costs aren't
> prohibitive.

When I started tinkering my Biography/Review plugins I contacted them
about their licensing. I never got an answer... But it was only me :-).

--

Michael

-----------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.herger.net/SlimCD - your SlimServer on a CD
http://www.herger.net/slim - AlbumReview, Biography, MusicInfoSCR

egd
2007-05-17, 04:23
When I started tinkering my Biography/Review plugins I contacted them
about their licensing. I never got an answer...

Michael, how long ago was that? They've signed up a few online retailers and the like in recent times so perhaps they're more ready to do business now. I can't imagine they'd provide free access but I'd be happy to pay a fee for access if the application was compelling enough. Alternatively we could resort to a script that reads the slimserver db finds the corresponding album on allmusic.com and then parses the HTML to get and store the metadata.

mherger
2007-05-17, 04:26
>> When I started tinkering my Biography/Review plugins I contacted them
>> about their licensing. I never got an answer...
>
> Michael, how long ago was that?

Two years and few?

> They've signed up a few online
> retailers and the like in recent times so perhaps they're more ready to
> do business now.

I guess they knew they wouldn't have done business with me :-)

> Alternatively we could resort to a script that reads the slimserver db
> finds the corresponding album on allmusic.com and then parses the HTML
> to get and store the metadata.

That's what my plugins currently do - an ugly solution, quite error prone.

--

Michael

-----------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.herger.net/SlimCD - your SlimServer on a CD
http://www.herger.net/slim - AlbumReview, Biography, MusicInfoSCR

egd
2007-05-17, 04:51
That's what my plugins currently do - an ugly solution, quite error prone.

How easily could your plugins be adapted to step through the slimserver db sequentially and present a popup window where more than one option exists for an album?

I'm guessing also that without cooperation from slimserver developers the metadata would need to be saved to individual file tags otherwise a slimserver rescan would result in loss of all metadata.

mherger
2007-05-17, 04:59
> How easily could your plugins be adapted to step through the slimserver
> db sequentially and present a popup window where more than one option
> exists for an album?

When testing my plugin I wrote a script to go through the whole collection
of artists/albums. Problem is: if you hit the allmusic.com web site
repeatedly, they will lock you out. You can open an account to prevent
this, but I didn't want to make this a requirement for the plugins.

But aren't there already tools out there which do this better my plugin? I
had the idea from MusicMatch Jukebox - I guess they have subscribed to
allmusic.com (as does imho msn).

--

Michael

-----------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.herger.net/SlimCD - your SlimServer on a CD
http://www.herger.net/slim - AlbumReview, Biography, MusicInfoSCR

amcluesent
2007-05-17, 05:39
Dapper http://www.dapper.net/ is a tool that claims to able to extract structured content from a web-site and make it available as a web-service.

Allmusic.com seem to testing this out themselves http://www.dapper.net/dapp-search.php?keyword=allmusic&transformer=&x=0&y=0&o=0&l=10

egd
2007-05-17, 05:41
But aren't there already tools out there which do this better my plugin? I had the idea from MusicMatch Jukebox - I guess they have subscribed to
allmusic.com (as does imho msn).

The only tool I've found that will let you tag with allmusic info is mp3tag using the allmusic scripts, however it is a manual process. I understand dbpoweramp now provides allmusic tagging capability, but it looks like itonly applies to the ripping process, not existing files. I've never tried MMJ, I'll download it and give it a try, but I doubt it will do what I've in mind.

mherger
2007-05-17, 05:51
> I've never tried MMJ, I'll download it and give it a try, but I doubt
> it will do what I've in mind.

When I was using it they simple had a panel which automatically connected
to allmusic.com (or some other service). Consider it an integrated web
browser, not more :-). I don't know whether this has changed in the past
few years.

--

Michael

-----------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.herger.net/SlimCD - your SlimServer on a CD
http://www.herger.net/slim - AlbumReview, Biography, MusicInfoSCR

egd
2007-05-17, 05:54
Dapper http://www.dapper.net/ is a tool that claims to able to extract structured content from a web-site and make it available as a web-service.

Allmusic.com seem to testing this out themselves http://www.dapper.net/dapp-search.php?keyword=allmusic&transformer=&x=0&y=0&o=0&l=10

Looks interesting. Thanks for the info.

egd
2007-05-17, 06:12
When I was using it they simple had a panel which automatically connected to allmusic.com (or some other service). Consider it an integrated web browser, not more :-). I don't know whether this has changed in the past few years.

Just had a look at its most recent incarnation Yahoo Music Jukebox - it now uses Gracenote.