Complete, and I mean Complete, newby

I have just started trying to take control of a mess created by iTunes over the years, and I need to start at ground zero with MusicBrainz. The first step for me is to look at a glossary of terms that I don’t really understand, or misunderstand from using them in other contexts. Words like
song files (as opposed to just Window Finder files),
cover etc. etc.
Am I beyond help? I tried to go to a MusicBrainz Quick Start link, and the link was broken. Can all this be dumbed down for a real dummy, or am I beyond help? Thanks…

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Have you looked at the Picard Documentation web site? This is IMO one of the best documentation of open source software that I have seen, providing both help for novices and advanced users.


If you’re despairing and want to be walked through in person I can do. Either Zoom, google chat, or hop on my Twitch some time today (it’s a lazy Sunday morning here), whatever :+1:

You can email users via their MB profile page, e.g.: Editor “aerozol” - MusicBrainz


The help files found in the HELP \ Help menu are a good start. They also walk an example through in there.

Little tip - experiment first with some copies of your files. (Even better, make one big backup before you start) Mistakes can be made and this way you can undo them easy. Do one or two albums at a time so you can check the output.

Tags \ Metadata - this is the text that Picard adds to a music file (MP3\FLAC) that allows media players to know what it is. iTunes will already have added some tags of its own, but Picard will expand these with more details. Tags for a single MP3 hold track title, album title, artist, dates and many other details.

Clusters - best explained in the help file. If you drop two albums into the left hand side of Picard and hit the CLUSTER button it will use current tags and filenames to gather those two albums into recognisable albums. This makes the next step of LOOKUP in Picard more accurate.

Album - one CD of music. You buy CDs, in a box\jewel case. Dark Side of the Moon is an album. Sometimes an album will have multiple CDs. In the digital age we have got rid of the CD, but the music is still held together as an album.

Song file - one track. “Money” from Dark Side of the Moon is one single musical track. You will have it as one MP3 (or FLAC) file on your computer. This is what will have the tags added to it, alongside the musical content inside the file.

Cover - pretty picture added to the album to display in your media player. These can be “embedded artwork” which are added into the music file\MP3. Or they can be a separate file sitting in the album folder.

You are not beyond help. And people here will help you, just post in this thread. Start slow, start simple while you get the hang of things.

On a tangent - one “gottcha” is iTunes is a bit of an awkward media player. So when you make changes in Picard you will have to poke iTunes to make it read those changes. Either you’ll need to rescan the album back into the database, or go to the properties and make it “Get Info” again to read the new data.

We can address these things in steps as you trip over them.

It will also help us to know what kind of sources you have got your music from. Is this bought through iTunes? Ripped from CDs? Downloaded from odd places?

Don’t be scared by it all at the start as it can seem like a lot of things to get used to, but you’ll soon get the hang of it.


Wow, guys–thanks for making me feel welcome.

Have you looked at the Picard Documentation web site?

Sophist…I think I have started doing just that by hitting F1. Yes, it does look excellent, and I’m just starting to read and understand it.

If you’re despairing and want to be walked through in person I can do.

aerozol…a very generous offer. I would like to learn as much as I can on my own, and if I get stuck on anything complicated I’ll get back to you. Thanks.

Little tip - experiment first with some copies of your files.

Ivan…that’s exactly what I’m doing, so I can recover from blunders.

So, a little of what I’m trying to do:
(1) I have a rather small library (1063 songs) that are 70% ripped from CDs that I own and still have (e.g. Hotel California by the Eagles). 25% are ripped from compilation-type CDs that own and these have various artists (e.g. 1997 Grammy Nominees). And then there are a few cats and dogs that I’ve come across not related to an Album–they’re just song files.
(2)I have removed iTunes and all its folders from my computer, after I did something that made a real mess for me to clean up. 'Nuf said.
(3) My target use for the MusicBrainz Picard library is a SONOS system (5 zones). When you use that system, you designate a “Music Library Folder” on your computer or NAS and it “Indexes it”, meaning that it gives you a view of the music by either Artist, Album, Songs, etc. I presume it’s using the metadata to do that, since the Music folder is organized with subfolders by Artist. The SONOS app will accept “exported playlists” in .m3u format, as long as the playlist file pointers are correct for the target library. I’ve written a Visual Basic app to correct all that.
The SONOS app also displays art embedded in the song file for each song as it plays.
(4) So everything is working well for the 70% “single artist” Albums, it displays the Album cover that’s embedded in each song. For the compilation albums I would like to display a unique artist picture while the song is playing, and still maintain the compilation album cover art if that’s possible. And finally, I would like to assemble the cats and dogs into a home-brew album with unique art for each song file, and a different album cover art.

So I’m off studying and experimenting to do Step (4) items…