In the best buddy movie of all time, “Diner” there is an epic scene when Shrevie as played by Daniel Stern is lambasting his wife Beth (Ellen Barkin) for filing his James Brown record under rock and roll instead of R&B. Not only does Shrevie want his records alphabetically but also by year. He blows another socket when he realizes that she filed that same record with the ‘J’s as opposed to ‘B.’ It’s a scene that resonants with many music lovers who side with Shrevie because they understand from personal experience. But a dagger is thrown when Beth’s excuse is “It’s only music.”
All she wants to do is pull out a record and play it.
It’s a real life scene that today comes off as a bit anachronistic with most music lovers leaving the music organizations to their iTunes. With a simple click of the mouse all your music is organized by genre, year, artist or even composers for goodness sake. Gone are the difficult decisions of where the Lynyrd Skynyrd records go. In the ‘L’s section since it was a real person or ‘S’ because he was not in the band?
So today your music library is all organized automatically. Or is it? There seems to be an iTunes folder on your phone and then one on your office computer and your house and well it almost seems like your music is more disorganized than ever. It’s a complicated mess and as good as iTunes can appear to be some of it’s limitations come in the form of its strengths.
How does one go about organizing their personal music library so you have all your music when and where you want it? There are a few choices I’d like to spend the next couple of columns exploring.
Each option comes with its own plusses and minuses. You can simply turn yourself over to all things Apple and use their iCloud service or similar services from Amazon and others. Or you can essentially take a slightly more expensive route like purchasing a cloud NAS storage system like Iomega EZ Media Center.
I have tried them all and finally after a lot of attention and a few hours of dragging file icons (I looked at it as Shrevie might- as a labor of love), my vast music collection appears to be organized and readily accessible wherever I am. So now I spend my days actually listening to the music.
How did I do it? First I explored the Apple and Amazon cloud approaches. This offered ease and low costs; however, they were not interchangeable. I might purchase an Amazon MP3 at a special priced and then it was a major challenge getting that record over to my iCloud and vice a versa.
I purchase music from a variety of sources including my favorites eMusic (on line) and Minturn’s Eagle Valley Record Store (in person). I needed a system that was format neutral and also offered room for growth, because if there is one consistent feature of my music library, it’s that it is always growing. Both Amazon and iCloud punish you for growing your library by charging more as your storage needs grow(because you bought more from them?).
I concluded that the Iomega 1 TB EZ Media and Backup Center offered the best long-term value, ease and access. The fairly portable hard drive cost less than $100 and includes a free cloud to access your music from all over the planet. Its filing system understands all of my music files regardless of where I purchased them. (I’ll post additional details of my Iomega online at Musicologist blog at kzyr.com.)
The Iomega drive has pre-ordained folders for your music, movies or other documents. Once the music is stored on the drive you can access via your home Wi-Fi network to play on any of your connected devices. The time it takes to set up the drive itself is only minutes. It’s best to connect directly to your router but it can be located any where in the chain.
The drive automatically sets up your personal cloud storage and allows access via your creation of passwords. This allows you for example to store your entire music library in your first home and then use at your second home in Vail through any internet connection.
I particularly like the idea that the Iomega understands all formats. As new high definition music files become more accessible, the Iomega can store and send to your appropriate player for playback. iTunes on the other hand doesn’t recognize these high resolution files. You need to download a special player (some are free others range up to $100). The point remains. to the Iomega it doesn’t matter. It’s format neutral.
It doesn’t care where your songs are purchased from- on line or my local record store on CD. As long as I take initial care in loading it to the correct folder (which can take some time with large music libraries), it will play it all day anywhere.
The Iomega EZ has lived up to its name however; it can be a tad slow in rendering. Then again I have downloaded thousands of song files onto the system.
Next week I’ll talk about playing these files on your various systems.