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Author Topic: Considering a switch to JCMC and have some questions  (Read 2751 times)

wburkett

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Considering a switch to JCMC and have some questions
« on: September 25, 2015, 10:00:42 am »

I am kind of surprised at the lack of product information about MC on the JRiver site - very little useful information, so I'm turning to the forum, here.

I currently used iTunes 9.2 as my primary digital music library manager.  It is getting long-in-the-tooth and I'm researching robust replacements.  I like mediamonkey well-enough, but it just doesn't do what I want out of a library manager.  I'm considering JR MC, but would like to ask some questions of you all, first.

While I am interested in sound quality and cross-device integration, my primary desire is a tool with strong management/curation capabilities.

(1) One of the main reasons for sticking with an older version of iTunes is that I ONLY want t music player - I don't want my library manager messing around with videos or TV or images.  Will MC cause me any problems because it "wants" to manage videos that happen to be on my computer?

(2) How can I test MC out without "letting it loose" on my music library?  Does it do anything to the music files (e.g., updating metadata)?  (I don't want to mess up my currently library files until I've decided to make the switch to MC.)

(3) I see that I can add my own tags.  I like this a lot.  Is there a limit to the number of fields I can add?

(4) From what I can tell reading around this forum, it looks as if I'll need to recreate my iTunes smartplaylists.  Tedious, but not problem.  Anything else I need to know about smart playlists?

(5) How much data can MC "suck out of" an iTunes library (i.e., the library file, the XML file, and the music files themselves)?

Thanks in advance - Bill
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blgentry

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Re: Considering a switch to JCMC and have some questions
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2015, 10:40:43 am »

I am kind of surprised at the lack of product information about MC on the JRiver site - very little useful information, so I'm turning to the forum, here.

I mostly agree.  Though it's hard to suggest what they could put there instead.   All I know is, what is on the site now doesn't really show off a lot of the great stuff about MC.  On to your questions:

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While I am interested in sound quality and cross-device integration, my primary desire is a tool with strong management/curation capabilities.

MC is unmatched in this capability as far as I know.  It's the essence of a power tool for Library Management.

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(1) One of the main reasons for sticking with an older version of iTunes is that I ONLY want t music player - I don't want my library manager messing around with videos or TV or images.  Will MC cause me any problems because it "wants" to manage videos that happen to be on my computer?

MC will only import what you tell it to.  You do imports by directory.  For each directory you can tell it what file types to import and which ones to exclude.  "Auto Import" can monitor directories and import files as they are added or changed.  It is configured the same way and can import only the types you specify.

Further, you can put MC in "audio only mode" and it won't show you options for video or images.

When you first launch MC it will start a countdown and then try to find your Media and import it for you automatically.  If you don't want that, cancel the countdown and do your imports when and how you want to.

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(2) How can I test MC out without "letting it loose" on my music library?  Does it do anything to the music files (e.g., updating metadata)?  (I don't want to mess up my currently library files until I've decided to make the switch to MC.)

MC will only write tags to files if you change them in MC.  If you change a song title from "Tangled Up In Blue" to "Wrestling with Red", it will change the Name tag on just that file.  It will also write play count and that kind of thing to the files.  It's really quite safe.  But if you want to TOTALLY prevent that while testing you can.  Uncheck this option:

Tools > Options > General > Importing & Tagging > Update tags when file info changes

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(3) I see that I can add my own tags.  I like this a lot.  Is there a limit to the number of fields I can add?

Not as far as I know.  I've added about a dozen fields to MC's Library database so far.  There are a LOT of fields defined already.  I imagine there's some really big limit like 16,000, but I'm totally guessing.  For practical purposes I think there's no limit.

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(4) From what I can tell reading around this forum, it looks as if I'll need to recreate my iTunes smartplaylists.  Tedious, but not problem.  Anything else I need to know about smart playlists?

MC's SmartLists are very sophisticated and can do some really neat and crazy stuff.  Check out some of the examples here.  Make sure to look at the ones that use "mix" and "limit":

http://wiki.jriver.com/index.php/Search_Language#Examples

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(5) How much data can MC "suck out of" an iTunes library (i.e., the library file, the XML file, and the music files themselves)?

You'll want to export your itunes library to MC.  To do this, create a playlist in itunes that just has EVERYTHING in it.  Then save that playlist in itunes as an XML file.  Then import that into MC (File > Import Playlist).  This will transfer (as far as I know) star ratings, play counts, and all of the basic metadata (album, artist, etc).  I'm not sure about Composer and other lesser used tags.  This process will also tell MC where all of those files are, so that should be all you need to do to import all of those files into MC.

Syncing with itunes is a big scary (to me) topic.  I know very little about it and I hope you won't have to do it.  But you can if you have to.

I think you're going to find that MC will give you enormously more power to view, search, and sort your collection than you're used to with itunes.  If you need help figuring out any of that stuff (like building custom views), start new forum topics about it and we'll try to help you.

Enjoy!

Brian.
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wburkett

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Re: Considering a switch to JCMC and have some questions
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2015, 11:27:52 am »

Thank you, Brian, for the thorough answer.  I'm nearly convinced that MC is the way to go now.

I do have one follow up question on your recommendation for "sucking data out of iTunes" question.  The XML file that iTunes produces doesn't contain all of the fields in the iTunes database, or even all of the fields in the mp3 files themselves, for that matter.   Since I like to really curate my library, I've been using other iTunes tabs and fields (like the Video tab) to hold information about the music files.  One curious behavior that I discovered about iTunes (or version 9.x versions of iTunes, at least) is that it puts the data in the Video/Description field into the mp3 "Subtitle" ID3TAG.  So my follow-up question is - and I don't know if anyone has gotten down into the ID3TAGs in the files in enough detail to be able to answer this question - is can MC read/get at/import the data within the "subtitle" ID3Tag?

(Actually, now that I think about it, I don't think there's anything in the iTunes XML file (e.g., playcounts/ratings) that I particularly want to preserve.  So I can just point MC at my music library directly and let it read in the existing ID3 data.)

(And I am realizing just how big a job the migration may be!  There are over 2400 recording titles in my iTunes library. So I'm going to have think about this and figure out how to automate the migration as much as possible.)


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ferday

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Re: Considering a switch to JCMC and have some questions
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2015, 11:38:59 am »

I think the model of using the forum as the "manual" for the program can be intimidating, but really it's better.  It's a highly active forum with some incredible knowledge to draw on

There are some great threads (and a sticky) at the top about iTunes migration, start there and ask questions here as you need

migration is not that scary!  MC is truly a powerful tool, many users here are managing 100's of times the amount of your files with no problems! Go slow and ask questions, you'll never go back to iTunes
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blgentry

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Re: Considering a switch to JCMC and have some questions
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2015, 12:02:36 pm »

I do have one follow up question on your recommendation for "sucking data out of iTunes" question.  The XML file that iTunes produces doesn't contain all of the fields in the iTunes database, or even all of the fields in the mp3 files themselves, for that matter. 

For clarity:  There is an itunes XML file that it produces and maintains as a normal part of operation.  I *think* this has everything in it.  I also *think* that MC cant' read that file or use it.  When I was describing the export/import process, I was talking about saving a playist (of the whole itunes library) as an XML type playlist.  MC *can* read that file.  You probably knew this.  Just trying to be extra clear.

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Since I like to really curate my library, I've been using other iTunes tabs and fields (like the Video tab) to hold information about the music files.  One curious behavior that I discovered about iTunes (or version 9.x versions of iTunes, at least) is that it puts the data in the Video/Description field into the mp3 "Subtitle" ID3TAG.  So my follow-up question is - and I don't know if anyone has gotten down into the ID3TAGs in the files in enough detail to be able to answer this question - is can MC read/get at/import the data within the "subtitle" ID3Tag?

MC should be able to read any tag and import it.  BUT... that field has to exist inside MC's library *first*.  I just checked and subtitle is not a standard field.  As I said earlier, you can add it in about 20 seconds though.  :)  Test with a few files to make sure it works.  Later you can copy that field to any other field you want, very easily, and in one operation for all files you want to do that for.  Or keep using that field.  Either way.

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(Actually, now that I think about it, I don't think there's anything in the iTunes XML file (e.g., playcounts/ratings) that I particularly want to preserve.  So I can just point MC at my music library directly and let it read in the existing ID3 data.)

Sure, that should work.  Just set up auto import to look at that directory and MC will get it all.

Like you said, plan it out.  Do some tests.  Maybe even create an MC library, do some testing, throw it away, and create a new library after for the "real" import.

Good luck!

Brian.
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wburkett

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Re: Considering a switch to JCMC and have some questions
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2015, 12:51:29 pm »

Thanks for the additional input, ferday, Brian ...

For clarity:  There is an itunes XML file that it produces and maintains as a normal part of operation.  I *think* this has everything in it.  I also *think* that MC cant' read that file or use it.  When I was describing the export/import process, I was talking about saving a playist (of the whole itunes library) as an XML type playlist.  MC *can* read that file.  You probably knew this.  Just trying to be extra clear.

You are right: I misinterpreted what you said, Brian.  The iTunes XML file /does/ contain playlists, too, so that's where I got confused. 

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I *think* this has everything in it. 

It doesn't.  It does not, for example, contain the "subtitle"/description field, or any of the video fields.

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MC should be able to read any tag and import it.  BUT... that field has to exist inside MC's library *first*.  I just checked and subtitle is not a standard field.  As I said earlier, you can add it in about 20 seconds though.  :)  Test with a few files to make sure it works.  Later you can copy that field to any other field you want, very easily, and in one operation for all files you want to do that for.  Or keep using that field.  Either way. 

It'll be interesting to add the field and see if it picks up the data from the file tags directly.  (Which would be awesome!)

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Like you said, plan it out.  Do some tests.  Maybe even create an MC library, do some testing, throw it away, and create a new library after for the "real" import.

Yup - sounds like a plan. Thanks for the recommendations and help.

Bill
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