Digitizing our music library

Over the past year or so I’ve been slowly converting all of our CDs to MP3 format and putting them on the computer. Various things are motivating this project:

  • Convenient access to music at work, where I listen to the most music, and on my Palm, which I take to the gym and use as a poor man’s iPod.
  • Organizing our music collection and freeing up space. Our CDs are currently strewn all over the house, some of them sorted in racks, some of them unsorted in racks, others just lying around loose, etc. With the music all on the computer, the CDs could be boxed up and put away, where they’d take up less room and wouldn’t get lost.
  • Giving new life to our old shelf stereo system, where the 5-disc CD changer is slowly dying. It has an aux input where we could plug in a digital music source.

There are a few challenges with setting up a digital music library. The first is disk space. I’ll be addressing that by buying a 250 or 300 gig hard drive, which should easily hold everything. Then the digital music must be organized, made available, and distributed to the various places where we will listen to it. Currently, I organize my MP3s loosely by category (classical, pop/rock/jazz, childrens, soundtracks, etc) and then alphabetically by album or song title within those categories. Distributing the music is the biggest challenge. With the music on a Linux server, there are a lot of ways I can make it available: SMB, NFS, HTTP, you name it. Apparently I can even set up an iTunes compatible server, which could be very useful. Of course, the music can also be played directly through the computer’s sound card, or burned onto ISO9660 CDROMs. But the real question is, how do we get this music from the server, to the living room stereo, the kids’ rooms, the kitchen, etc., in a way that is user-friendly and doesn’t cost megabucks? That is a great question, one that I’ve been pondering off-and-on, and is sure to be the subject of a future entry..