Zen and the art of cataloging your records


It’s 2017, do you know where your albums are? Was one of your New Year’s resolutions to be more organized? Well, as far as your music collection goes, whether it be CDs, vinyl records, tapes, even downloaded music. I may be able to help in the virtual sense. In this article, I will present you with some programs for your computer, tablet, smart phone and whatever, that will help you not only organize your music collection, but maybe even enhance it with information. 
So how many albums or CDs, etc. do you have? 50, 100, 300, 1000+?
Perhaps you keep losing track of them. Maybe you are an organized person and are looking for a good way to organize your music collection without building a system from scratch.
Maybe you loan music out to family and friends. Perhaps you are like me and you kept finding yourself saying “how in the world did I end up with four copies of this album”?
Whatever the reason, it’s not a bad idea to get some organization to your music library. In fact, it can be very beneficial, not only due to the things I already mentioned, but it may help you decide what to listen to on those days when you can’t decide and it can and often does help you learn more about your records just automatically depending on how deep you want to drill with info.
You could build a spreadsheet, especially if you know how and have a very small library, say well less than 100. I’m well versed in Excel and started building a spreadsheet for my library, but some problems presented themselves. I was discovering a spreadsheet was too static. Sorting, filtering and printing reports were becoming more difficult than they needed to be with the more entries I added. I wanted album art included and I need to make track notes.
So why not build a database instead? Not having a database program such as MS Access and frankly not the time either, I got a ready-made music database or more accurately, a cataloging program.

At one time a few years back, there were very few available (I knew of only two) and they were pricey for what they were, not to mention cryptic.
Not too long ago there were a plethora of them, but the field has narrowed once again a little and what is left are what I feel to be the best of them.
I actually got all of them to try out and I did land on one for myself I liked best and I will tell you which one later. So for the more organized among us, what I want to do here is present each of them to you, kind of comparing them and my experience in using them. Your mileage will vary.

I found all to be very functional and well made with some more limited than others, but the overall differences are small for the most part and any one of them would be a good choice depending on what you need and want.
I’m not putting these in any particular order except to say saving what I consider the best for last.

Music label 20151) Music Label 2016
Price = $40 Standard Edition / $70 Pro Edition
Free 14 day trial
Windows only

This is the highest priced of the bunch, but fairly robust.
Some feature highlights include:
-It is geared towards CD and vinyl, but you can also catalog any type of music media such as tape, SACD, MP3, etc. and will handle box sets appropriately.
-Basic data can be entered by scanning your hard drive, inputting a CD or typing the title. There is also full manual input.
-You can keep track of items on loan.
-You can search and sort and export to various formats, but only with the Pro edition.
-You can print reports and watch statistics. The Pro edition allows you to edit and change the reports.
-You can also keep a wish/wanted list and you can create any number of databases of any size.
-There is also touch gesture support for mobile devices.

Other features:
There are 3 main views you can choose from depending on what you want to see where and columns are resizable and you can create your own custom views. You are also able to change fonts. You can edit entries and do batch editing. You can also add to the fields and add links.

Pros: Fairly robust, handles box sets, report types are plentiful, will grab cover images from the internet. Plays music files, batch editing, export to mobile devices, handles multiple databases, search function is robust with multiple ways of searching.

Cons: Somewhat of a learning curve, pricey, to use internet search for entries, you must register with the internet databases, it is not automatic like other programs. Statistics are limited. Custom view creation is very cryptic. Does not offer user defined fields or enhanced templates, only one type of template available. No bar code scanning ability, no cloud storage. Details view is not automatic, no specialized classical music fields, no filtering ability and no integrated backup. You must purchase the Pro edition for editing and changing reports, exporting to mobile and other file types.

Overall though in spite of some of the cons, it is a nice program with enough fields to get fairly detailed info input, but for the money it’s not as good as some other choices considering it does not allow “user defined fields”.

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