This morning, my pal Brian at Gizmodo posted a nifty video of a Sony Ericsson phone that could determine what song was playing, just by listening with its onboard microphone. The video tripped a switch deep in my brain, and I remembered a fledgling internet operation from a few years back attempting to do much the same thing with MP3s. A little bit of Googling turned it up.
MusicBrainz is an online catalog of music, similar to freedb or cddb , the difference is that instead of using the physical CD to identify the album and artist info, MusicBrainz goes a step further. MusicBrainz uses audio fingerprinting technology to identify tracks using the actual music. You point it at a folder of unlabeled, untagged MP3s, and it will scan the files, hit the Internet, and report back with all the metadata for the tracks.
I vaguely recall using a similar app in the past, with very mixed results. However, this afternoon I ripped five random CDs sitting on my desk using EAC without automatically naming or adding tags to the files. I fed the raw MP3s into MusicBrainz Picard app and labeled all the tracks correctly.
The secret to MusicBrainz is that it harnesses the power of its users. When the app encounters an unknown song (which didn't happen, even when I fed it some MP3s from local bands I listened to in college), it prompts you to fill in the blanks, and submit the info to its online database. The whole experience was good. This weekend, I'm going to backup my entire music collection, and run it through Picard to see how bad my tags really are.