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Organizing Your Music On a Server  Print E-mail
Home Theater Feature Articles Audio Related Articles
Written by Bryan Dailey   
Sunday, 01 May 2005
Article Index
Organizing Your Music On a Server 
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Getting Music On Your iPod or Handheld Music Storage Device
Once you have burned your collection and have it in iTunes, you can then import your tracks to your iPod to take on the road with you. If your iPod’s capacity is greater than your entire archived music collection, I’d recommend just moving over the entire collection. If your iPod does not have enough room, then you’ll need to create smaller playlists or drag and drop over and selectively import the tracks or folders that you want to listen to later. I have more than 20 gig of songs, but happen to have only a 20-gig iPod. Going with the “Shuffle” philosophy, I will randomly import about 15 gig worth of artists’ folders, then will quickly scroll through my artist list on iTunes and pull five of my favorite artists folders and pop those on there. I liken it to grabbing an entire shelf of CDs off your CD rack, loading them up in the car, then going back to pick and chose a few extra CDs that I want to make sure I listen to first. Once I've listened to these few select titles, I still have hundreds of hours of other music available for listening.

One advantage you get with a non-iPod handheld device is that normally, for less money, you get a larger hard drive. The non-iPod devices don’t sell as well because they are less sexy but the value is there if you run a PC. Still, for PC users and certainly for Mac guys, I recommend an iPod. I don’t really recommend the iPod Shuffle for $99, however. It is simply too small for all but tiny downloads. If your music collection is worth tens of thousands of dollars, $250 isn’t too much to invest in bringing it with you in your briefcase for a business trip.

Burning CDs and DVDs
Unlike the massive amounts of storage available, you can put between 640 and 800 megabytes of audio on a CD, depending on the size of the disc. iTunes makes this process very simple and you can create custom playlists, then burn them onto customized discs. With the advent of car adapters for listening to your iPod on the road, from the slick interfaces like the ones BMW created last year to simple tape deck adapters, the need to make CDs seems obsolete, but if you don’t yet have your iPod dialed in for in car use, CDs are a good option. If the files you are burning have been compressed, you will be able to put many more songs than you’d get on a standard CD, but of course the sound quality won’t be as high.

Recently, the prices of blank DVD-R discs have come down. You can make one heck of a playlist on a somewhat disposable format. At about $2 per disc these days, if it gets scratched or lost, who cares? A few years ago, blank DVD-R discs cost over $10 each. Ouch.
Purchasing Music From iTunes and Elsewhere
When the music industry was scrambling to find a way to stop the bleeding that was being caused by peer-to-peer file-sharing networks, Apple calmly stepped up and presented the world with the iTunes music store. For $0.99 a song or $9.99 an album, music lovers could stop weeding through poorly ripped and often mislabeled illegally shared downloads and could buck up and legally purchase tracks online. This concept quickly gained momentum and record labels jumped on board. Other record labels soon followed suit and consumers can now purchase songs from Musicnet.com, Napster and several other online pay per download sites. Each of the payment structures is slightly different, but you’ll need to research the ones that work for your particular MP3 player. For the Apple iPod, iTunes stored tracks are created to be placed on your iPod or can be burned on to a CD. There is a limit to the number of times that purchased tracks can be burned. One major downside to the Apple iTunes store is the depth of the catalog selections available. Some artists that you might search for, such as Led Zeppelin or the Beatles, aren’t on iTunes at all and others will have some but not all of the back catalogue albums are available. One quirk that you might want to pay attention to when shopping for songs by a popular artist with many albums is the fact that the “more” button is very small on the search results window. A search for Van Halen results in 75 hits, but four albums are shown on the first page, making it appear that the store’s inventory is very low. However, if you hit the very small “more results” arrow, you get to see that there are many more Van Halen songs and albums actually available.

iTunes isn’t the only player in the download space, but like everything Apple does, it is the easiest. Napster, a company synonymous with stealing music in the late 1990s, is back with something more like a rental model. Music enthusiasts I know want to own their music, not just rent it. Also, reports I have heard say synching the music from Napster to your iPod can be tough. An interesting alternative download company is Emusic.com, which “podcasts” live concerts and special events right to your iPod. It is more oriented towards more niche music than the highly popular back catalogue rock and pop stuff found on iTunes. For hardcore music enthusiasts, it is a pretty cool service.

Conclusion
3,000 words later, it feels like I have just scratched the surface of what is possible. From my personal experience, archiving my music not only has made my two hours per day in the car commuting from Long Beach to Beverly Hills much more tolerable with my iPod, but more importantly, my archiving project has allowed me the chance to regard my music in a whole new way. I have bought more music in the CD store and through iTunes to help round out my collection in all sorts of genres. Until the music business figures out what they are doing with DualDisc or other future formats like HD-DVD or Blu-Ray, it might be well worth your while to look into taking on the project of archiving your music. It is basically impossible for you not to get excited about your collection all over again.







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