I discovered the MusicBrainz database this weekend. It’s an online database of music much like FreeDB, but it has quite a bit more metadata.

What’s most interesting: each Brainz entry is associated with an audio fingerprint. The Brainz tagging software is tightly coupled with the database: it lets you batch process MP3s and correctly tag them based on a combination of fingerprint, filename, and current tags. The result? With a single click, I was able to turn 30GB of unstructured, mis-tagged music into 20GB of well-structured music. (The remaining 10GB wasn’t identified, which means I’ve got to either re-tag or throw it away: uniform and correct tags are absolutely essential to the iTunes+iPod lifestyle!)

Unfortunately, MB doesn’t have cover art in its database. I’m still looking for a good piece of software to help with this. Tag&Rename; connects to Amazon web services, but it doesn’t batch process and isn’t smart about trying variations of tag names in its search queries. (For example, it won’t remove “Disc 2” from the album name before searching.) iTunes Art Importer looks promising, but again it doesn’t batch process and has trouble with even basic searches (U2, anybody?). Then there is art4itunes, which can batch process but requires you to manually add the art to your mp3s once done. (It also requires you to upload your iTunes library to their server, which I find suspicious.)

So, does anybody know of software to do this? Here’s what an art importer would have to do to be useful:

  • Batch process an entire library.
  • Search multiple databases (Amazon, Walmart, etc.)
  • Perform smart variations on the searches by eliminating extraneous information in tags.
  • Provide a brain-dead interface for choosing the correct artwork when multiple possibilities exist. Just show me the track, display my options, and let me click on the one I like.
  • Save the cover art both as a file on disk (cover.jpg) and into the MP3 itself. Automatically scale the image in the MP3s to a size of my choosing (say, a size appropriate for display on an iPod.)