In one form or another, I’ve had an eye towards preserving my CD collection long term since 2003.1 Back then, my process was pretty complicated; now, it’s fairly simple. The principle is pretty simple: get the music off of the CDs while preserving their package and state. I’m okay with CDs only being played a handful of times, as I’m more interested in the packaging and getting all the bits.
Here’s the process:
- Scan the release into Delicious Library. This works for purchased CDs only, of course. Concert recordings don’t go in here, as I didn’t pay to take ownership of them. I put things into DL so I can loan them out and know who has what. Also, I have this as a record for insurance purposes.
- Check MusicBrainz for the release. Every so often, I have to go and add the release, but I’m an auto-editor.
- Rip the CD in Apple Lossless. I’d use FLAC for maximum interoperability, but Apple only uses their lossless format for iTunes, and as I use iTunes Match to move music onto my iDevices, I knuckle under and use their format. I don’t see it going away anytime soon, so I don’t feel like I’m investing time ripping into a format that I won’t use. When I compare this to the 3-4 different lossy encodings I used from 2003-2011, it’s not a big concern.2 Now that I have two large HDD arrays, I really don’t worry about storage space.
- Run the rip/encode through MusicBrainz’s Picard tagger.
- Add in the highest-quality cover art I can find. I really should be making my own with the scanner I have, but I’m lame.
I’d put in lyrics—and I care about that in a theoretical way—but there’s little practical value in doing so.
That’s where I’m at these days. I don’t see this methodology changing much given that I’m using a stable lossless codec.