I’ve got a medium-sized collection of CDs and LPs (maybe 400-500 each? I’m guessing?*), and I’ve always felt it would be a good idea to have some kind of handy catalog of what I’ve got. There are a couple of items that I’ve accidentally bought duplicates of, which can happen, and that’s a lost opportunity to spend money on something I don’t already have!
The nice folks on the music collector threads on Facebook recommended some, so I thought I’d try them out. The two are “CLZ Music” and “Discogs”.
Discogs leans a little heavily on the side of buying-and-selling items on-line. That’s not what I’m looking for, but I can work around it. But this is mostly going to be about ease-of-use and completeness.
To enter items into the collection, both have a mobile phone interface (for Android, in my case) with the ability to use the camera for scanning bar codes, if that fails you can enter in the catalog number, and as a fall back do a text search for the item. Both have a web interface too, which makes it a little easier to do editing of items.
Let’s start scanning
I picked a box of CDs at random, consisting of a good chunk of the “B”s. I’m mostly interested in classical, so the box includes lots of Brahms, Beethoven, Boulez, Berlioz. The box had 47 items in it.
I fired up the barcode reader and started working through them. The CLZ reader is set up so that you can quickly go through a stack. If it finds it, you tap the add to library button, and move on to the next. If it finds multiples, you can check off which one it is (weeding out the reissues) and tap add to library. Sometimes for box sets the multiples will be individual discs within the set, and you can tap them in one at a time.
- Of the original 47, 29 of them had readable bar codes and were entered in accurately. The rest of them either had
- a different style bar code — these tended to be from the BMG service — so I added them by catalog number;
- No bar code at all so I entered a catalog number;
- No findable catalog number, so I did a text search on title, composer or performer;
- Or no result at all.
The ones without barcodes tended to be releases from the ’80s, not surprising. But even there, the catalog numbers were pretty complete in this database.
At the end, this is the only one it couldn’t find. The vinyl version was there, but not the CD.
Lots of things are not always correct.
The track listings are one. The RCA Red Seal re-release of Toscanini conducting the first four Beethoven symphonies (74321 55835 2) only shows the Egmont Overture, which actually isn’t part of it; and that it has a track length of 0:00. There’s a lot of other sloppiness, but that can’t be blamed on the app. There doesn’t seem to be any consistent way that record companies (or others) apply metadata.
The “Artist” for a release could include the composer, or the title of an opera, for example. The composer is usually blank. When there are multiple “Artists,” they’re all lumped together — Conductor, Orchestra, Chorus, Soloist in one block of text. That would make it difficult if not impossible to sort them if, for example, you were looking for all your Dawn Upshaw CDs.
But again, that’s on the record companies or whomever else is providing metadata to whichever service it is they use.
Adding artists is pretty easy in the mobile version. You go into the edit screen for an item, click the + sign to add an artist, and either pick one from your list or you have the option to add one. It also is smart enough to reverse first name and last name, and add a comma, for the sort order. So Berlioz stays with Brahms. Not so for the web version, though. You can add a composer to your list if you need to, but you don’t get the sort order unless you go back later into your Picklist editor and add it there.
So there are some unnecessary steps. For me at last, entering and editing on a keyboard is much faster than tapping a virtual keyboard. But the web interface adds steps that aren’t in the mobile version, so there’s no real gain.
The web interface does allow some bulk editing. Yay! You can check off multiple entries, click the edit button, and then add common material to them all at once.
It’s pretty straightforward to manually enter an item if it’s not in the database. Much, much easier (for the reasons above) to do it on a desktop or laptop. But you enter the title, artists, composer, label, bar code, catalog number, format — as much or as little as you want or have time for — tracks and timings, etc. Presumably they add this to their database.
As you can see from the screen cap of the home page, you’re in a trial run. First, your collection is limited to 100 items; second, web site access is limited to 7 days. You have to buy the full product, and as best I can tell all that does is unlock the limit, and let you synch your collection to the cloud.
Is it worth the ~$15 to buy? Watch for the next installment.
* I’ll know better when I’m done.