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I have been trying to think of a way to store my playlists completely independently from any one music player, and I think that one way to do this would be to use each song's tags to store the list of playlists in which that song belongs. For example, if song1.mp3 and song2.flac both belong in the "Cool Songs" playlist, then I would add to each of them a tag called "Playlist" with a value of "Cool Songs".

To access the "Cool Songs" playlist in my music player, I simply search for songs where the "Playlist" tag has a value of "Cool Songs". Obviously, I would need a music player that allows me to manipulate arbitrary tags on any music format, including multiple instances of the same tag (so that songs can be in multiple playlists). Instead of creating playlists, I create "saved searches" or whatever the music player calls them, that search for the appropriate playlist tag.

Is this scheme possible, and how many music player programs would support such a scheme?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

I just realized the answer. I can store playlist info in the song tags as I descibe in the question, and then I can write a script to read the tags and create regular playlist files, which can be read by any music player.

New! An actual implementation!

I've implemented my mad scheme. You can find the results on github:

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I've not heard of any player that supports this, although it is feasible with certain containers (e.g. Ogg allows any number of instances of the same tag).

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Any music player that supports adding and filtering on arbitrary tags should support this scheme, I think. – Ryan Thompson Nov 27 '10 at 23:16

It depends on the file format used by the music. Some formats support a wide range of tags, some don't.

One of the disadvantages is that the speed may not be all that good - the player would need to open every file, and read it to locate the tag. Depending on how and where the tag is encoded this may be a slow operation. (I've implemented something like this in a music player where I wrote the firmware - all it did was read the song name, and that was slow enough. This was on an embedded system with no horsepower, though.)

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Oh, I didn't mean hardware players. I meant software programs that manage and play one's music library. For hardware players, I would use a script to export my "tag playlists" to m3u files. Actually, that seems like it could be a general solution to my problem that would work with all music players that support m3u. – Ryan Thompson Nov 29 '10 at 0:45
Also, I think most hardware music players index their music files for faster browsing. On the other hand, I've never heard of any hardware music player that supports using custom tags. The minimum that I expect of a hardware player is support for playing music files and playlist files. – Ryan Thompson Nov 29 '10 at 0:47

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