I wish iTunes had tags.

There’s only one thing I want more than having my music collection “in the cloud” and that’s for Apple to allow us to Tag songs in iTunes. Why are we stuck choosing just one Genre? If I have a DJ Set I want to tag it “DJ Set” “techno” “gym” “Dave Clarke“. As of now all I can do is pick Genre -> Electronic Music.

This post is actually a question to all of you guys… am I missing something? Is there a way you are labeling your iTunes stuff that would help me? I do realize that if I have all the meta data filled out that I can find what I am looking for but my library is so large I forget things are there entirely. So if I don’t know I’m looking for Dave Clarke but I want a nice mix to play at the gym with Tags at least it would pop up.

Any ideas?

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Oliver Chesler

"Hello my name is Oliver and I'm going to tell you a story." I have been recording music since 1989 under the name The Horrorist. I have released over 60 singles and 4 full length albums. To hear my music please go to: thehorrorist.com

22 thoughts on “I wish iTunes had tags.”

  1. You don’t have to restrict yourself to the default genres.

    You can type in your own genres into the box and it will then appear as an autofill option in future.

    So I have things like “House – Smooth / Vocal / Classic” and “Hip Hop – Club / Instrumental” as my genres, using smart playlists to group certain styles together (also useful for grouping styles together in crates in Serato Scratch Live).

  2. It doesn’t really solve the problem, and tags would make this bizarre method obsolete, but I use smart playlists in a weird way. Maybe not weird, I don’t know. I’ve created a bunch of my own “genres” that allow me to categorize songs the way I understand them. So therefore in addition to “electronic”, I have folktronica, weirdotronica, kidtronica, 80s New Wave, poptronica, oddfolk, oddpop, and various other combinations of prefixes and suffixes. And then I try to rate songs with stars.
    So with these ‘tags’ I have smart playlists like “good tronica” which is every song with the word “tronica” in its genre, so it covers synth pop, techno, minimal, IDM, glitch, etc, and rated, say, more than 3 stars. I have “odd” which then brings in all music I deem ‘odd’ which includes pop, electronic, folk, etc. I have “good and unheard” which is all music of any genre that I’ve has not been played in a number of months, and more than 3 stars. (this is a good way to pull up that difficult Autechre album that you know you like, but you never seem to be in the mood for)
    This doesn’t help me find a specific song, but it’s a great way to create “smart” mixes that allow me to get to what I want to hear.

    All that said, and now that I think about it, it sounds pretty ridiculous. But I’d probably still use these crazy playlists even if Apple does give us tags. That’s typically my problem with Apple, is that they try to get us to fit how THEY want us to work rather than make things flexible.

  3. i use the comments too a lot to prepare tunes to dj . i can then create smart folders that look for “glitchy tech” in the comments, and dynamically add it. i can then add more than one phrase, if this tune fits other possible definitions, so it will appear in other smart folders etc. it works pretty much like tags!

  4. @charlie: Comments are indeed the way to go. Add your “tags” in the comment fieldand create a smart playlist. Edit the playlist to search on the comment field, and search for the tags you want.

    I was actually thinking of doing the same very soon but marking out releases as “single” “ep” “album” “compilation” “bestof” – that sort of thing. Makes it easier whittling down the collection to fit on my iPod Touch.

  5. The comments are very suitable, and as far as I know the search and smartlist features work with the comments too. I use dotsyntax for multiple genres/tags : folk.trance.schlager.

  6. I agree with the comments mixed with the smart playlists idea, I’ve been using that for a while. Apple shouldn’t force users to have to come up with a workaround for such a basic function though, they should support tags right in the Genre.

  7. As has been said, use the comments fields. You can then make great smartlists for sorting things. Dj programs like Serato and Traktor both read your iTunes library; I make use of both and love it. I wish Ableton Live could read iTunes libraries!

    Cheers from Canada,

  8. This is one of the many reasons I have steered clear of iTunes (which, lets face it, is a tool to get you access to the iTunes store, and to tie the iPod into the store).

    Thus, I have chosen Helium Music Manager http://www.helium-music-manager.com/ it aint free, but you get what you pay for – its got loads of tag possibilities, custom fields etc etc. At least check the free demo out – and as a blog writer, you might even be elligible for a free licence. I wrote a simple little review of it on my blog which may enlighten you some more: http://www.prupert.co.uk/2008/11/02/a-great-music-manager/

  9. I use the “Grouping” tag to sort based on the main artist or sub grouping from there, ex: “Nine Inch Nails”, “Nine Inch Nails Live”; “Alec Empire”, “Alec Empire Remixes”. Then in attempts to accurately tag things, I write a list in the Genre field with closest relevance first, ex: “Breakcore Chiptune Dubstep”. Though it doesn’t transition as well as I’d like when playing on iPods. I also wish there was an easier way to sort things on that end when taking it portable.

  10. Nice replies. I suspect Rex maybe right that because Tags are not part of the MP3 ID spec thats the reason Apple has left them out… I will start simply putting tags in the comments… that really does make sense since it’s a usable field in smart playlists. Bit thanks… oh Rupert Helium does look good but Im on Mac.

    By the way WordPress 2.7 is coming soon and it has threaded comments so soon we will all be able to reply directly under a specific message (yay).

  11. Another interesting thing is if you search iTunes help for Category the page that comes up is titled “Tagging songs for custom sorting and grouping” and funny on that page it doesn’t mention Category at all… By the way to view the Description and Category fields hit Command-J.

  12. i use the “grouping” field to manage all my playlists. i made a set of 3-4 character codes that make sense to me, and then use the rules in smart playlists to manage everything. that, and the star ratings make itunes pretty useful to me.

    for example, ROK-PSY-DWN, and so on are some code examples. dupes of the playlists with an additional “has at least 4 stars” let me trim out the fat even more.

    you could do the same thing with the comments, but i like to leave that open for other things. sometimes tracks have made use of the comments already.

    anyway, i think you get the idea…

  13. oops – forgot to mention that my codes are all unique enough to not step on eachother or create false positives. the basic rule is something like “whose grouping contains…”

    and of course you can put any number of codes or “tags” in the grouping field for items that span several of your pigeon holes.

    i don’t bother with the genre stuff at all.

  14. You can type as many of your own custom genres as you wish in the genre field to “tag” songs. For example, for a Fad Gadget song, I have “mute, synth, 80s” in the genre field. Then when creating a smart playlist you can select “where genre contains…” and go to town.

  15. I just want to say I’m so happy reading that there are others like me out there. These issues plague me, and allthough I eventually gave up and started using iTunes 1,5 years ago I still hate parts of it. Brian pointed out the main issue, apple makes good user interfaces, but they ain’t flexible at all, so specific needs – which we as music lovers obviously have – require weird workarounds…

    I use comments for record label as for now (how can that not be a standard field??) but it seems like the best idea so far to extend it for all wanted tags (genre, remix etc). Thanks for the inspiraton.

    Dave Clarke killed at I Love Techno!

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