Proposal: An Album File Format

While I don’t have the talent or motivation to follow through on this idea, I thought it was worth sharing. Would it make sense to have an album file format that served as a container for individual songs?

I imagine some of the following features:

  • A container file, similar to ZIP or TAR (compression probably not necessary, since most music files are compressed)
  • Contains album metadata
    • Artist
    • Liner notes
    • Web links
    • Cover art (in a standard format accessible to player apps)
    • Song order listing
  • Contains the songs files (perhaps format agnostic? Could contains MP3s, Ogg, ACC, etc.) rather than just linking to a song, as a playlist does

This would purely be a matter of convenience, as all of this functionality is technically available now through playlists and folders. I might also comfort some artists who are concerned about the single-based bias (as opposed to full albums) of music online.


4 thoughts on “Proposal: An Album File Format

  1. Most of your full albums rips from irc based mp3 ripping groups have been using those formats listed above for a while now..They include the mp3 files,a .nfo file which contains links to reviews, track listing etc, and usually scan the covers as well..So you would think if us “pirates” are doing the music industry would logically clue into this as well…

  2. It seems to me that there’s a more fundamental problem here, which is that our current tools make it difficult to deal with collections of files as a single unit. This is what folders are for, and our OSes are ok at dealing with them, but our network protocols are lousy in this respect. Both HTTP and the various file-sharing systems I’ve used (which probably accounts for most transfers of music) have no way of dealing with folders as a unit. In fact, the file-sharing systems seem to actively throw away information about folders.

    I remember that some FTP servers (back when we used to use that protocol) could automatically generate .tar.gz files from folders, which was pretty neat. Though now I think about it, it was actually just a band aid over the inability of FTP to transfer whole folders.

    So I reckon it would be better, though far harder, to solve the bigger problem. That would solve most of the album problem. You’d still need an album metadata format, but that would be trivial in comparison.

  3. After pondering for a few minutes on Colin’s post above, I was at a complete befuddled loss as to what sort of things I would want to do with my folders. Putting them into .zips or .tar.gzs is well and good, but – and this may just be ignorance shining bright – most of the use of folders is just as a place to put things. I put my cups in the cupboard of the kitchen, and I put all my photos in the /photo/ folder of my website. The clothes go in the dresser, and all of the weblog posts go the /l/ folder.

    It occurs to me, also, that having links to reviews on any album is somewhat belated. Reviews are to influence the thought of the buyer or consumer (or pirate, criminal, etc…), and if you’ve got links to reviews with the item that you have already bought (or downloaded), they aren’t serving any purpose, as you’ve already gone and purchased (or downloaded) it, and can very well go and form an opinion youself.

    It seems more reasonable to include with a metadata format other information that people would just find useful, such as lyrics, notes, inspirations, thanks, etc…

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