beaTunes News

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Different Libraries for different Needs

In part 1 of this series of articles, I explained the overarching idea of beaTunes, i.e. how analysis and inspection help you to build better playlists. Today, I am going to concentrate on how to get started with beaTunes libraries.

Although beaTunes is also a music player and audio analysis tool, to a large degree, it is a music library management software. Therefore, when you first start beaTunes, it asks you what kind of library you would like to create:

You can choose between a folder- and an iTunes-based library. No worries, this decision isn't final—you can add other libraries later. But to help you make the right choice, let me explain how these two libraries differ.

Folder-Based Libraries

If you don't use iTunes, folder-based libraries are the right choice for you. To create one, point beaTunes to a base-folder in your file system. This can be any folder—local, remote, external—it does not matter, as long as it's visible in your file system. Usually it makes sense to choose the Music folder, but you're certainly not limited to it. Tip for OS X users: If you cannot find your external drive, try using the keyboard shortcut Command(⌘)-Shift-G and enter /Volumes. That's where external drives are usually mounted. When you have defined the base-folder, beaTunes will start adding all audio files in that folder and its sub-folders to its database. While doing so, it also imports all ID3 and other tags it can find. The process of reading external data is called Synchronization. More about that later.

Once your files are scanned, beaTunes presents your library to you and you are ready to go. Starting an analysis or an inspection is a good idea. All changes will be written directly to your files.

A common question that comes up is, "how do I add files to the library"? The easiest way is to add new sub-folders with audio files to your base-folder and then choose Synchronize from the File menu. Alternatively, you can also simply drag files into the beaTunes Music list. If the file is not already contained in the base-folder, a copy within in the base-folder will be created and added to the library.

iTunes-Based Libraries

If you are using iTunes and expect BPM values calculated by beaTunes to show up immediately, you should create an iTunes-based library. When you do so, beaTunes will add all files you have in iTunes to its database and also scan them for additional ID3 and other tags. But more importantly, whenever you change something in beaTunes, it tells iTunes that something has changed or even asks iTunes to perform the change. This ensures that you see changes in iTunes right away without having to play a file. However, it does not mean that other programs also see changes immediately. Software like Traktor typically has to re-scan files. Also, when in iTunes-library-mode, beaTunes by default does not write certain values to your files. If you are interested in embedding non-iTunes fields like key or color into your files, make sure to check the box Embed non-iTunes fields into audio files in the general preferences before you start the analysis. This can also turn out to be useful, should beaTunes' internal database ever get corrupted, as it can then be completely restored from your files.

Synchronization

The biggest problem in library management is dealing with external changes. If you for example mass rename all your files, beaTunes will have great trouble connecting the files under their new name to their corresponding database entry. Removing or adding songs from your iTunes library may also pose problems. This is why synchronization is needed. It's basically an attempt to synchronize the internal beaTunes database with your actual library—be it folder- or iTunes-based. To achieve this, beaTunes supports two kinds of synchronization: Automatic on window activation and manual.

Automatic synchronization re-scans your library every time you switch from another program back to beaTunes. Naturally, it does not always re-read the whole library, but pays attention to certain changes. Nevertheless, this can slow down the software quite a bit. If you find that beaTunes spends a lot of time on this, it's better to turn it off. Again, this can be done in the general preferences under Synchronize on window activation. With automatic synchronization turned off, data may get out of sync at some point. Then it's time for a manual synchronization. This can easily be done with the corresponding item in the File menu. Tip: If you don't want beaTunes to work on outdated data, synchronize every time before you run an inspection.

Creating a new Library

If you realize after a while that you need to switch between a folder-based and an iTunes-based library or simply want to use a different base-folder, it's time to create a new library. The easiest way to do so, is to open the File menu and select New Library.... beaTunes will ask you which kind of library you would like to create and either prompt you for a folder name or the iTunes Music Library.xml file you want to base your library on. To switch back to another library, simply open the general preferences and choose another library from the drop down list.

Conclusion

I hope this article explained how the two kinds of libraries differ. Please comment below, if you have any questions or start a discussion in the help forum.

Thank you.



This article is part of a small series under the heading "HowDoesItAllWork".

  • Part 1 explains the overarching idea behind beaTunes.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Using clean Metadata to build great Playlists

Over the years many different people tried beaTunes. Aerobics and spinning instructors love it to prepare their classes, marathon runners to keep their pace, audiophiles to fix their tags, and DJs to detect key and BPM for their next set. But what about the tagline: Build better playlists? Why this tagline? What's the original idea?

I love to explain this.

One of beaTunes' most popular features is audio analysis. That's really just a fancy phrase for saying, the program manages somehow to measure the tempo in BPM and find out the musical key. Perhaps some other stuff like ReplayGain or automatic segmentation. The idea here is to find out something about the music that's not already in widely available textual tags. Something that helps you to see right away that there is a similarity between two audio pieces. Tempo and key are pretty good candidates, so is beaTunes' color (more or less a measure of dominant frequency ranges). In essence, via analysis, beaTunes tries to better describe your music.

The next thing beaTunes is loved for is inspection. That's what I call the systematic and automatic inspection of mostly textual tags (e.g. ID3 tags) for consistency. Is the name for a given artist always spelled the same way? Does s/he always sing in the same language? Are his/her songs in the same genre? Answers to these questions aren't easily given. But beaTunes supports you in finding issues and making decisions in order to clean up your tags. That's right, it's all about improving the available metadata, making it more consistent.

Both calculating new metadata via analysis and improving existing metadata through inspection serve one ultimate purpose: Creating playlists that rely on good metadata.

beaTunes' MatchList feature allows you to formulate rules (in the application preferences), that determine whether two songs are similar or match. If you want to create a playlist that has to have a fairly constant tempo, you can put emphasis on the "similar BPM" rule. If the same language is important to you, again, just put emphasis on the corresponding rule. To create a MatchList, simply select a template song and click on the "Create MatchList" button. beaTunes will do the rest for you.

Of course, there are other ways of building great playlists. But having additional and clean metadata is definitely helpful. And this is where beaTunes excels. This is what beaTunes was originally built for.



This article is part of a small series under the heading "HowDoesItAllWork".

  • Part 2 explains what kind of libraries beaTunes supports.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

beaTunes 4.0.15: Update recommended

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I'm happy to announce that beaTunes 4.0.15 was released today. This update contains some important fixes, especially for people who use folder-based collections or choose to embed non-iTunes meta data. Therefore I recommend updating asap.

You can download the software from the download section of the website.

Most important changes in 4.0.15

  • Fixed possible mp3 file corruption during analysis.
  • Fixed index confusion upon deletion from library.
  • Improved import of existing mood tags.
  • Improved sort order of key column.
  • Improved support for "Open With" from file system.
  • Added guard against StackoverFlow stemming from large in() clause.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

beaTunes 4.0.14

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beaTunes 4.0.14 is out. This is mostly a maintenance release—no big changes.

You can download the software from the download section of the website.

Most important changes in 4.0.14

  • Improved play behavior with open match table.
  • Improved support for ID3v1.
  • Improved folder-based sync on mass changes.
  • Added explicit symlink handling for folder-based libraries.
  • Added ability to upload logs.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Open Chordify from beaTunes

Wouldn't it be nice to automatically extract chords from any song? Or have some application display chords as subtitles for YouTube music videos? Perhaps loop a certain section, so you can practice playing it on the guitar?

Well you're in luck, the website of the Dutch startup Chordify.net does just that.

I met Bas de Haas, the guy responsible for the chord recognition part, a couple of years ago in Utrecht (NL), where he received his PhD for work on music information retrieval. Obviously his work was fruitful. But not only the raw transcription part works really well on Chordify. The user experience is thought through exceptionally well. Being able to simply watch the YouTube video in sync with a marker on a music sheet is just fantastic. Plus: It's pretty. Often times you see original cover art of emerging artists as background wallpaper. That's no accident. If you happen to play in a band and are looking to promote it... contact them, they might just put your cover on the site for free. "No strings attached."

How does this relate to beaTunes? Starting with version 4.0.13, you can right-click on any song, choose Open in... > Chordify and open the corresponding Chordify page (if the song is also on YouTube, Deezer or Soundcloud). It really couldn't be any easier to find those chords.

I hope you enjoy this neat little feature, which opens up a great website for you. As you will see right away—Chordify is built with a lot of care and attention to detail. Creating this connection has been a pleasure for me. I'm sure using it will be fun for you as well.

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Chords, #NowPlaying, Prefix-Search and more!

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beaTunes 4.0.13 is out and it's not just fixes. Even though it's only a point release, it offers a couple of new things I hope you're going to like. The feature included in this release, that was demanded most, is most certainly prefix search. That's the kind of search, where typing the first couple of letters of a word already leads to matches, with no need to type the entire word.

Another new feature is the Share button. Located to the right of the volume knob, it allows you to tweet what you are listening to, conveniently marked with the #NowPlaying hash tag. On OS X 10.8 or later, beaTunes uses the system integration, on 10.7 and Windows it simply opens a browser window. In either case you can edit what you post, before it's published.

Last but not least, beaTunes 4.0.13 features a new Open in... context menu: Chordify, which lets find out the chords of any song in your collection that's also on YouTube, Deezer or Soundcloud. Just right-click on a song, choose Open in... > Chordify and watch the chords appear in your browser. If you like to play guitar, Chordify is a website you must know. I'll write more about it in another post.

There are a couple of other things fixed and new, which I don't want to go into in great detail. Please simply refer to the list below.

You can download the software from the download section of the website.

Most important changes in 4.0.13

  • Fixed translate button in Get Info lyrics pane.
  • Fixed issues with Apple Lossless on Windows.
  • Added Twitter share button.
  • Added prefix filter/search.
  • Added new read-only file inspector.
  • Added compilation column.
  • Added open in Chordify
  • Improved file system based sync speed.
  • Improved multi item Get Info panel.
  • Updated to Groovy 2.3.7.
  • Updated to JRuby 1.7.16.1.
  • Split visible column popup into sub-menus.
  • Allow importing of zero Last.fm tags.

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

beaTunes 4.0.12

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Just a quick note: beaTunes 4.0.12 is out. You can download the software from the download section of the website.

Most important changes in 4.0.12

  • Turned StringDeduplication on.
  • Fixed identify lyrics language task.
  • Fixed wrong file deletion problem.
  • Fixed several Amazon context issues.
  • Improved empty line handling in lyrics.
  • Added setting of last played/skipped.
  • Moved to japlscript 3.1.0.
  • Moved to PCMSampledSP 0.9.3 for 32-bit wav files.
  • Removed 32-bit OS X launcher.

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