Simon and Lindsay: EasyTAG is indeed a useful tool for tagging many music files at once. While EasyTAG does automate a lot of the work, it is still quite a laborious process. This really grinds when you’re trying to manage a large music collection. What if your tagger worked more like your ears and brain — it just listened to the music and worked out what song was playing?
Enter Picard, stage left.
Picard ‘listens’ to your music and ascertains an audio fingerprint of each track. Using this information, along with more traditional data such as existing filenames and tags, it consults various online sources to deduce the details of the track and populate the metadata fields. I’ve found the results to be amazingly accurate. Sometimes it finds multiple matches, and it can occasionally get confused if the same track is available on different albums (e.g. a single, an original album and a ‘best-of’ compilation). If you have some idea of what the track is, you can lend Picard a hand by manually adding a more useful filename or some tags. This is where EasyTAG works well with Picard, since Picard isn’t geared towards manual tag editing. Still, it’s bloody impressive nonetheless.
As an album-based tagger, Picard behaves somewhat differently from file-based taggers like EasyTAG. It can take some getting used to, and it might be less accurate for people who prefer to collect single songs and not entire albums. If you’re like me and do compile full albums, it can do clever things like ascertain that you have the ‘White Album’ (or part of it) if it sees ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ as well as ‘Revolution 9′. The developers have recognised that the UI does need some love, but once you’re used to it it isn’t too bad.
Picard is a mass-tagger, so drag a whole stack of music files onto it and watch it do its work. It’ll try and group your music into albums. To correct allocations, drag their entries to arrange them in the way you please (or drag them away if nothing is suitable). Depending on how esoteric your music tastes are, you should find that most tracks are handled fairly accurately. If you sign up for a MusicBrainz account, you can submit your changes for others to benefit.
Addendum: If you’re using Ubuntu, don’t forget to install libtunepimp5-mp3 for MP3 support.
LotD: Excellent speech by Nicholas Negroponte on One Laptop Per Child. I would especially recommend that the naysayers listen to it.