Goodbye iTunes, Hello Plex

We still have two big bookcases full of CDs — those disks music used to come on — in our TV room. And we have a CD changer with a jambox hooked up to it in the hall. That’s our “stereo”. we’ve been wanting to upgrade it for some time and go digital, but it was an intimidating task. But over the past few weeks I’ve been tackling it.

The first impulse was iTunes. Put all our music on an external drive and use iTunes to access it. This got pushed aside when the simple act of transferring the iTunes library from my computer to an external drive became a task that apparently only a Faustian bargain could accomplish. And in the process, iTunes lost some of my files. Way to go, most successful business in the world.

I looked at a few other options and finally decided to try out Plex, which actually came included on my external drive. Plex acts as a server to deliver files to other devices, including our laptops, phones, and tablets. It’s even available on the PS4.

I loaded up the media into Plex, cleaned up the data some, and now it’s working like a champ. On Friday I listened to three full albums through it. The first album to have that honor was On Fire by Galaxie 500.

I’ve created several libraries. Main is, as the name implies, the main one. There’s also 70s, 80s, 90s, Compilations, Soundtracks, and so forth. And “Uncharted”, where the stuff I’ve been carrying around in my mp3 library for years and never actually listened to and processed lives. There’s also a separate directory for a ton of music that I’m the only one who really cares about:

We can each make playlists that are also available on the multiple devices. This morning I began the ritual I perform whenever I have a new mp3 library to deal with.

Here’s a side rant: Plex wants files to be named and arranged a certain way, which is fine. There are a lot of programs that do this, and I went with one I used way back when I was ripping CDs, The Godfather. What I didn’t realize is that it’s been a while and the program has update since then. One of its new features is one that automatically “corrects” capitalization in tags. So every artist, album, and song title had this “fixed” by the program, which assumes every word begins with a capital letter and the rest are lowercase. So I had bands and artists like James Mcmurtry, The Klf, The O’jays, and such. It also has a list of words it assumes should always be lowercase, and among them are “you” and “your”, which isn’t how anyone does it, so one track was “Does your Mother Know” by Abba. That this is the default setting (and there’s no way to turn it off) amazes me. Who didn’t have a problem with this? So I had to start all over from scratch after I realized what it had done.

ANYWAY, Plex so far is looking like it’s our solution. We’re going to play with it a little and, if we like it, we’ll get an Android tablet and some speakers and that will be our space age new “stereo”.

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