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Music Cataloging, Part 2

To review Part 1, I have 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

Discogs leans a little heavily on the side of buying-and-selling items on-line. It even evaluates the value of your collection, which is interesting. But that’s not what I’m looking for, and it makes finding some features counter-intuitive. But I can work around it. This is mostly going to be about ease-of-use and completeness.

Usage

Again the fastest way of entering items is to use your mobile’s camera to scan barcodes. The interface isn’t quite as smooth, because for each item you have to click the “search” icon, click the barcode icon, scan, and add to collection. Then you have to click the search and barcode icons again. A minor step that takes five seconds multiplied by 1,000.

Scanning

Using the same set of 49 CDs from Part 1, the app easily read in 26 of them. Of the others, by either manually entering the catalog numbers or doing a text search, I was able to find all but two.


The Beethoven Sonatas you’ll recognize, but the Brahms was a surprise because CLZ found it easily enough.

Editing

Here’s where Discogs really shines.

This is what CLZ has to say about the DG release of Boulez’s pli selon pli:

Details from Collecterz.com

And this — seriously — is what Discogs gives you:

Discogs’ crazy detailed notes.

Hard to read, even zoomed, but it lists every single credit — and they’re hyperlinked. Do you really dig the flautist on this? You can click her name and pull up a profile to get her bio and all of her other releases.

That’s not all. For this release, at least, you not only get the cover image, you get the back cover and all the pages of the insert. And the CD face itself. And the jewel case with the CD removed. Something like 28 images in all. You can pan through each of them and the program notes are totally readable. I’m looking forward to seeing what this does with operas, but I won’t get my hopes up. (It didn’t get anything on “The Fairy Queen,” but that’s an older release.)

This is overkill and I love it.

It really nails the composers, performers and titles without any of the confusing concatenations that can show up.

Submitting items is easy, similar to the way CLZ handles it. What it does have is autocomplete. Start typing “Itzhak,” and Itzhak Perlman shows up, ready for you to add him as an artist without worrying about misspellings. It also helps with consistency in capitalization and spelling, both in performers and composers, as well as in track listings. If you make an error, it suggests a cleaned-up version. I’ve spent many an hour proofreading things at My Jobs, and I appreciate consistency and professionalism.

Following up: After submitting two new releases, I got messages back from the Discogs people pointing out errors in how I had constructed them. They make an effort to enforce a number of standards for how we format things — image quality, how tracks are listed for multi-movement works, and probably a few other things that I got right the first time out.

There is the beginning of an interesting conversation about metadata for sound recordings on The Classical Music Recordings Discussion Group on Facebook [members only]. I’ll be doing some more reading on this, and consulting with some of my librarian friends to see their thoughts on these topics.

The Future

I’ll try scanning another box. It might go even faster if I do it right next to the computer, so if a scan fails I can quickly try the manual methods.

In Conclusion?

I can’t see what CLZ has going for it at this point. There’s the ease of rapid scanning, but still the (quite honestly) sloppiness of their database more than makes up for the time saving. If they enforced some kind of consistency the way Discogs does it might make a difference. But that horse is already out of the barn. Plus it costs money.

Discogs it is.

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