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MP3 Tagging is Still a thing and Kid3 to Apple Music

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OK, I have some old MP3 songs that I wanted to (finally!) get into Apple Music. After realizing that some things like iMovie need DRM-free content, I was motivated. I had been using MP3Tag to do this work, but it has become a paid application, so looking for open source tools that would manipulate these tags and looking to get a compilation to look correct in Apple Music, so here are the steps:

  1. Well I gave Kid3 a try mainly because you can brew install kid3 and it just works.
  2. The user interface to the thing is to say the least a little unusual, what it does do however is tell you all the versions of tags in an MP3 file or Flac file or just about anything else. This is useful because the older Tag1 which is ID3v1.1 is much shorter and good for filenames while the Tag 2 called the ID3v2.3.0 has longer names.
  3. If you have a compilation hopefully, you have the tags already there (but kid3 let’s you look for them in databases, although I didn’t have to do that). Then, if the files are numbered but don’t have track numbers in them, you can open the files and Select All and then Number Tracks and it will name the sorted list in the tags. Make sure you say All Tag so it writes to every place.
  4. If for instance, you have a complication and want to overwrite the album names to make it look good, then you Select all the files and then in Tag 1 and in Tag 2, you can create a single album name for all of them. This is great for Mixtapes.
  5. Now the confusing part, if you want to rename a file, what you do is to create an selection string in the box label Format with an up arrow, then there are two buttons on the right next to the From what this means is that if you hit Tag 1 then it will take the tags from there and create a new filename. Once you do this, you will see nothing happen, but if you click on a single file, you will see there is a new name.
  6. When you are done, then you hit Save and it writes everything, the new tags and the new filenames to disk. It’s probably a good time before you do this to make a duplicate copy of everything in case you blow it.

Getting this into Apple Music

What really happens now is pretty complicated because let’s face it Music really hasn’t change much and it is mainly designed to make using their subscription service work well, but bear with me:

  1. The first thing you want to do is to create a Smart Playlist with File New/Smart Playlist and then in the Rules, select Album and then contains and the type the prefix string of your album (note that there is no wildcarding, so it is just a prefix).
  2. Then you go to File/Import and go to the mixtape you want to import and let it rip.
  3. Now your Smart Playlist should propagate. You have to use this Smart Playlist because if you have a mix tape and the artist doesn’t match, then Apple will assume that each track is it’s own album and if you look in Recently Added, you will see a mass of files, by using Smart Playlist, you don’t have to manually select them for the next operation. Plus, you might want to leave the playlist there for your mixtape pleasure.
  4. Now you want to select all the items there and right click and choose Get Info and then in the dialog will have a checkbox towards the middle called Album is a complication of songs by various artists and when you click on that then the album will look right in the Library/Albums section.
  5. If you are going to use this as a playlist as as aside, you will see that it is sorted alphabetically, to fix this, go to View/Show View Options and choose Songs and you will get the familiar tabular view and click on Tracks as an item. Then you can click on that column and your mix tape is sorted by track which is what you want.
  6. You can also see Apple go through it’s song matching, basically, if it recognizes a song, it won’t actually copy it up but just set a pointer to it in the database that you actually own this track and the little cloud icon is show it is synced. You can also add a column of Cloud Status to see the status of matching is.

And there you have it, your old school CD mixtape is now up in Apple Music and you can use it for iMovies or whenever you need a DRM-free copy 🙂

How to Get the Best Quality in Apple Music

Apple has a pretty cool deal, if it matches the song you have which you can see by looking at Cloud Status to see if says matched, then if you right click on the song to remove download, it will give you the high quality song it has even if you have a lower quality one (I think the minimum is you have to have a 128 Kbps MP3 version, but I can’t find that reference anymore).

For instance, if you have song and there is a Lossless, Dolby Atmos version, it will actually tell you that the Downloaded version (from it’s point of view, when you import and match, it considers the song that you added to have been “downloaded” from Apple which is a little weird, but makes sense if you realize that most people are not ripping mixtapes anymore). So if Remove the Download, then you will get the high resolution version.

How can you tell what versions Apple has, well that’s a little tricky, what you need to do is right click on the song and choose Remove Download and then when you right click again, you will see a new entry so Show in Apple Music and then in the title in the center, you will see logos if there are higher resolution things like Lossless, Apple Digital Master and Dolby Atmos

And now when you redownload the track, in Preferences/Playback/Audio Quality, you can select for instance High Resolution Lossless and you will get the high resolution version. Note that I’m assuming you have also selected in Preferences/Files the option to Copy files to Music Media folder when adding to library.

Also if you do this, then you can’t import that track into iMovies as you now only have the DRM version, so it’s probably best to have a separate set of tracks for iMovies or other DRM-free use and you can import from there.

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