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First look: MusicMatch Jukebox's Impressive 10

Free software helps organise large music collections

One of the major hassles of any decent-sized digital music collection is keeping it all organised in a way that makes sense to you. MusicMatch Jukebox 10, now owned by Yahoo, debuts today and gives music lovers lots of help in arranging their tracks in just the way they want.

Musicmatch 10, which comes in a free and a $20 (£10) premium version, is available to download from Musicmatch.com.

For years, media players have used behind-the-scenes database capabilities to build a library of your music. But the new Jukebox goes farther than any player we've seen to expose the power of its database to users. You can view your library in myriad ways, add more detailed information and easily edit info for your tracks.

You can also perform easy edits of large batches of files. One example: I love Bach and have lots of albums of his music, but some have the artist listed as Bach, while some have the artist listed as the specific performer. With Jukebox, I can drag an album with the artist listed as Yo-Yo Ma to the section of the library labeled Bach and the program will change the artist designated on all the tracks from Yo-Yo Ma to Bach (after confirming that that's what I'd intended).

And Jukebox adds another feature that both classical music and hip-hop fans will applaud. I can list Yo-Yo Ma as a featured artist, so that I can look at my music arranged either by composer or performer. It's also useful for hip-hop tracks that have Beyonce working with Jay-Z, for instance.

On those days when you just don't know what to play, Jukebox's improved AutoDJ should help. You enter the names of a few artists you're interested in hearing, then choose a "diversity" setting on a horizontal slider. At the lowest diversity setting, you'll hear only hits by the artists you specified. Increase the diversity setting, and you'll start to hear related artists as well.

When I asked for a very diverse playlist based on 10,000 Maniacs, Bob Dylan and Cowboy Junkies, for instance, Jukebox also included tracks by The Beatles, Beck and Elvis Costello. If you have a subscription to Jukebox's On Demand service ($8 to $10 per month, depending on how much you pay in advance), Auto DJ will include not only tracks in your own library but in the On Demand catalogue as well.

And Jukebox 10 generally makes it simpler and quicker to edit information in your library. You can right-click any field of information for a track or group of tracks and immediately edit the information in the same way you would rename a file in Windows, without bringing up a cumbersome properties box. The playlist manager makes it easy to see and edit multiple playlists at the same time.

I wasn't able to test the premium version of Jukebox. It includes the ability to create custom views of your library (showing just samba music recorded in the 1980s, for instance), to download a list of your library to a spreadsheet and to automatically detect when you've mistakenly downloaded the same song more than once to your portable player. With the basic version, you can rip music at 10x and burn it at 8x; with premium, you can rip at 40x and burn at 48x.

If you're a music lover who sometimes has a hard time finding tracks in your own collection, or who's particular about the way your collection is arranged, the new version of MusicMatch Jukebox is definitely worth the download.


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