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Chapter 3. Getting and Playing MP3 Files > Organizing Your Collection

3.4. Organizing Your Collection

Before your collection starts to grow, it's worth giving a bit of thought to establishing file naming conventions and an organizational system. While you can always use Explorer/Finder/Tracker to organize your collection later, you may find it useful to think a bit about filenames and directory structures a bit before you start downloading and encoding, as a number of variables enter the process. You'll be happier later on.

3.4.1. Naming Your Files

When encoding your own files, you should have total control over the way your files are named, although many players do impose some limitations in this department, such as disallowing spaces in filenames even for those who choose to use them. Dig around in the options and you should be able to find controls for choosing among many possible formats (more on that in Chapter 5). If you're downloading files from the Internet, however, it's a different story—files arrive with whatever naming convention was used by the person or organization who posted the file to begin with. Many files you'll find out there are simply named after the song, e.g., "Blue_Jay_Way.mp3". Would it make more sense to name a file with the artist's name as well, e.g., "Beatles-Blue_Jay_Way.mp3"? That depends on how anal you are. First off, keep in mind that the name of the artist is usually—but not always—stored in the file itself, in the form of its ID3 tags. Thus, even when the artist's name isn't in the filename, it will appear in the MP3 decoder's player's interface as the file is being played. However, there are files floating around out there with no information whatsoever stored in ID3 tags (Figure 3.18), so if you don't give your files a meaningful name when you download them, you may never discover the actual artist or track name.


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