July 18, 2004

Your Personal New Music Radio Station

There's been a lot of talk about MP3 blogs lately; I've followed newflux and sleeve notes for quite a while now, and there's a growing list of others in my blogroll.

Getting new music to listen to is always good, but the way my system was set up meant that listening to the MP3s required interrupting whatever music I was already listening to (and I'm always listening to something), and often I need a couple of listens to a track before it worms its way into my head.

For a while I've been meaning to write some code to get the latest MP3s from the RSS feeds and somehow insert them into my listening schedule for the day. Then I came across Jeffrey Veen's post about using wget to download the MP3s. That took care of acquiring the tracks, but didn't give me an easy way to listen to them.

So, some experimenting and perl hacking later, I now have NewMusicRadio. There are two parts to this, and when combined they provide my own personal radio station of recent additions to my music collection and an assortment of new discoveries from Soulseek and the MP3 blogs I subscribe to.

First off is the cron job script which runs each day - downloading the new tracks from an assortment of MP3 blogs, and generating the list of MP3s recently added to my collection. Jeff explained most of the wget options, and I've added two others:

  • -nv This just cuts down on the amount of output generated to reduce the size of my cron logs
  • --ignore-length This tells wget not to download a new copy of a file just because the sizes don't match. That allows me to overwrite files I don't like with a zero-byte file and wget won't just get me another copy next time it runs. The chmod g+w after each wget is just because my cron job doesn't run as the same user as the CGI script that might want to "delete" an MP3; they are in the same group, so the chmod makes sure the downloaded MP3s can be overwritten.

Rather than give wget a list of URLs for each MP3 blog, I'm running a different wget for each blog so that I can filter the downloaded MP3s into a directory for that blog, just to help me keep track of which tracks I got from where.

Then I use find to create a list of tracks which have been added in the past 42 days:
find /home/musicfiles/ -name \*.mp3 -mtime -42 -print > /home/musicfiles/recentfiles.txt

  • /home/musicfiles/ This is where all my MP3s live. When I buy a new CD, it gets ripped and the MP3s are put in /home/musicfiles/<artist>/<album>/<track_n.mp3> and everything I download with soulseek, or from an MP3 blog gets put into /home/musicfiles/downloads. This parameter tells find where to look for updated files.
  • -name \*.mp3 This option tells find just to look for files called <something>.mp3. The \ is needed before the * to ensure the * isn't expanded by the shell and makes it to find as a *
  • -mtime -42 tells find to only include files which were modified in the past 42 days (six weeks)
  • -print output the filenames which match
  • > /home/musicfiles/recentfiles.txt redirect the output into the file we'll give to the playlist generator

Now that I've got a load of MP3s and a list of which ones are new, I use a little perl script installed on my Apache webserver to pick random songs from the list and deliver them to my media player. Musicmatch seems to get the artist/title information when it's available, but Winamp just displays the URL the track is being streamed from, which isn't as useful.

When I point my web browser at the script, I get a form to fill in (see an example). Once I've chosen how many tracks I want in the playlist I can either listen to the playlist straight away - generating an m3u playlist which automatically fires up Musicmatch - or have a look at which tracks are chosen. The view playlist option looks like this; shows me which tracks are in the playlist; lets me listen to the playlist; and lets me delete songs that have been downloaded (as opposed to ripped from CD) if I decide I don't like them.

If anyone fancies having a play with it, I've made it available over here. I'd be interested in hearing any thoughts about it, or suggestions for improvement.

Posted by Adrian at July 18, 2004 08:47 PM | TrackBack

This blog post is on the personal blog of Adrian McEwen. If you want to explore the site a bit further, it might be worth having a look at the most recent entries or look through the archives or categories over on the left.

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