This week's Free Software Application of the Week is Quod Libet, a GPL-licensed music player.
If you have a music library on your computer, and you play your songs using VLC's interface, or, Marx forbid, by double clicking each song your want in your file manager, then you are living in the dark ages of music players. Quod Libet will make your life much easier.
What can Quod Libet do? Well, a better question might be what can't it do. Quod Libet works best with songs that have been tagged (i.e. the file contains information such as the song title, artist, album, track number in the album, genre, etc.). If most of your songs are tagged, then Quod Libet gives you a lot more options for how to play your music.
The first feature I should mention is the song queue. This is exactly what it sounds like - once one song finishes playing, Quod Libet will automatically start playing the next song in the queue. You can add whatever songs you want to the queue, in whatever order you want, so you can queue up several hours of music, if you so desire. The queue doesn't require all your songs to be tagged, so if you don't have very many songs tagged, this will still work.
If you do have tags, it gets a lot better. Quod Libet has several different "views" you can use. One is the Album List, which is a list of every album in your library, sorted by the title. This makes it simple to add all the songs in a particular album to your queue. Same goes for the Album Collection - this one gives you a list of all the artists, which you can expand to show all the albums you have by that one particular artist. There's the paned browser, which lets you see all the songs by a particular artist, or all the albums you have sorted by year. There's also just a simple search view, and a simple file system browser.
Another neat feature is the ability to create playlists. This can be useful if you want to create a mixtape (yes, very funny) of various songs from different albums. Or, if you only want to hear songs from a certain genre, go to the "Search Library" view, and type in
genre = 'Genre', with whatever genre you want in the single quotes. By default, if you have no songs in your queue, Quod Libet will play the next song in the list after the one that just played. But, there is a shuffle button at the bottom, which makes it choose a random one that it hasn't played yet. There's also a repeat button, which makes it go back to the top song in the list when it reaches the bottom, or re-add all the songs to the unplayed list if you're on shuffle.
But perhaps the best feature is the ability to stream internet radio stations. Yes, most other media players can do this, but Quod Libet will load a list of popular radio stations of various genres, if you tell it to. It will also let you add your own internet radio station, if it's not in the default list.
There are 2 features that I haven't tried - one is to synchronize music with a media player (I haven't been able to make mine work with Linux), and there's also a feature that lets you play songs from Soundcloud (I haven't tried this due to privacy concerns - once I get around to reading the source code, I'll determine if it's safe). But maybe they'll be useful to you.
I only have 2 complaints, and both are about the tags. First of all, Quod Libet does let you edit the tags of each individual song, and it has quite a few tags to choose from (this makes sense, since it is based on Ex Falso, a tag editing program). However, there is no simple interface for editing the most common tags - you will have to scroll through a gigantic list to find the tag you want to add. For this reason, I usually edit the tags of each song using Thunar, since that gives a very simple interface for the most common tags (track number, year, artist, title, album, comment, and genre). Secondly, there is an addon that will auto-fill the tags from MusicBrainz (a music database). However, it isn't very flexible. It only lets you search MusicBrainz for the album name. Not the name of the song, not the artist, but the album name only. The addon was obviously designed to be used for auto-filling the metadata of several songs belonging to one album at once. This might be useful for some people who rip entire albums from CDs, but since I download individual songs from the internet, it'd be more useful if it could search by song name, and come up with a list of artists/albums that have matching song names, so I can select the right one to fill up metadata from (kind of like Calibre does for finding metadata for individual books).
So, getting all of the music in your library tagged might be a pain, but once you do, listening to it will be easier than ever. I used to have an entire file hierarchy (shut up, anarchists) in my Music folder, with subfolders by genre, then artist, then album, then the individual songs inside of those folders, but I no longer need to do that. Now, every one of my songs is in my Music folder (no subdirectories), and I can arbitrarily separate them by genre, artist, or whatever using Quod Libet. It really feels better this way, because creating subdirectories forces you to separate them by one thing only. So, with the directory system, if you want to create a playlist of all songs by one certain artist, but they've made songs in different genres, and that's what you decided to separate your songs by, you'll have to hop up and down your directory tree to select all of the songs by that artist. Whereas with Quod Libet, all it takes is one query, and all the work is done. It feels very good to be using the right tool for the concept. In short, this tagging system is a discrete mathematician's wet dream.
Quod Libet is by far the best music player I've tried (sorry, VLC, but you've been outmatched in this domain). I recommend that you give it a try as well. Once you get over the initial hurdle of adding tags to your songs (I use a combination of DuckDuckGo searches and Thunar to add the common tags), then listening to music in your library will no longer be a chore. Or, if you don't yet have a music library, but want one, there's a very nifty application called youtube-dl that can help you out there. This one will be featured in a review sometime, but not next week. I've reviewed a lot multimedia applications recently, so it'll be some time before I review another one.
And that's it for this week's Free Software Application of the Week. Join me again next Monday, for a review of I2P-Bote!