FLAC, MusicBrainz, ReplayGain, Songbird, and Last.fm

With the closing down of the MediaMaster service (due to financial issues, apparently), I’ve had to find other ways to enjoy my music on multiple platforms. In the end, I settled on rsync as being the simplest, cheapest alternative.

Syncing my libraries is extremely easy, compared to iTunes, for example. All my ratings, dates, etc., get updated on whatever computer I happen to be rsyncing. This is because my new favorite music player, Songbird, writes any changes I make back to the song file! Most music player software keep a cache of its own metadata seperated from the actual song files, which is good if you don’t want your songs modified, I guess, but I want my ratings and whatever else updated on all my libraries. Songbird allows me to do this without syncing the entire application too.

I tried Songbird a long time ago, back when it was v0.9 or some other pre-v1 version. I could’ve almost used it, but in the end I had one single clear thought: “It needs to be faster.” I remember thinking that and actually whispering that to myself when I deleted it. Well, v1.1 is definitely a lot faster and a lot lighter.

Songbird also integrates into last.fm quite nicely, which allows me to keep my last.fm profile up-to-date on all my music interests. With the surprisingly stable (compared to some others) last.fm Pidgin plugin installed, and Facebook’s last.fm status updates, my friends and stay up-to-date on each other’s interests too.

Oh, and I’ve recently re-ripped all my music to FLAC. I do things all by hand: first I run “cdda2wav” to get a simple set of maximum-quality WAV files, and then I run “flac -8” on those. Because these are all without tagging, I use the awesome Picard tagging software to get the metadata set up correctly. Next, I use metaflac, which came in the flac package, to set up some album replaygain tags, which Songbird will support transparently, so that all the tracks from an album are at the same volume. I copy all this into Songbird’s Library folder, and Songbird instantly updates my library. As a final cleanup, I listen to each song, rate it, and then use the last.fm sidebar plugin to ge to the track’s page on last.fm and tag each one.

Piece of cake, and everything is set up perfectly, just the way I want it. I have never been this settled in Linux in terms of a music collection, so I am very pleased to finally have a method.

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  • ignorante  On October 8, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    I think cdparanoia is better for ripping and Grip (http://nostatic.org/grip/) uses it. You can extract directly from CD to tagged FLAC files in one step as Grip gets the artist and album information from the net (and lets you modify them) and then you put this command line option in the flac options panel inside grip

    –best -V -o %m -T “ARTIST=%a” -T “TITLE=%n” -T “ALBUM=%d” -T “DATE=%y” -T “GENRE=%G” -T “TRACKNUMBER=%t” %w

  • Harry  On March 20, 2010 at 6:50 am


    your story is great, I am facing many of the same problems and I will try to follow your example to get everything as I want it.

    At the moment I cannot get songbird in ubuntu to read the metadata of flac files, neither to change it.

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