MusicIP Mix handles huge mp3 libraries better than WinAmp [Abandonware]

let me get this out there: i love winamp.  i’ve been using it since its’ inception.  i used to listen to tag’s trance shoutcast station back in the day (tag is/was one of the winamp devs and was responsible for a lot of the visualizations that come bundled with winamp).  i’ve tried many, many other music apps, but i always come back to winamp because nothing else has anything on the extensibility possible through winamp plugins.  pretty much if you want it done, it can be done in winamp.  nothing else comes close.

recently i discovered winamp’s built-in playlist generator.  basically, the brains behind itunes’ genius playlist generator (which i also ♥) is gracenote, and winamp’s playlist generator also invokes gracenote to produce awesome, relevant playlists.  the handful of people who actually read and follow this blog will know that i’m a bit of a snob when it comes to playlists/mixes.  for instance, it drives me nuts when we’re in a store or on the few occasions i’m listening to the radio and they put, say, Nirvana next to something like Tori Amos or Bjork.  having been a dj at parties, there’s a certain flow that needs to happen in good mixes, where one track leads to the next and there aren’t abject disruptions that throw the whole thing off.  you can hear it in a good Oakenfold cd like Tranceport or Perfecto Presents Another World.  They don’t need to be the same genre, it just needs to flow.  as a dj, i learned this first-hand, and i learned how to adapt the playlist to the mood of the crowd.  when the floor started to empty, it was time to throw on a couple tracks that were sure to get people dancing.  in an 80s set, my ace was always “take on me” by a-ha.  in a goth set, it would be something like “closer” by nin, or “cities in dust” by siouxsie.

so i’m pretty discriminating in my random playlists.  when i want random, i don’t actually want random.   sometimes i do, but usually i want random within a defined set of variables for the particular mood i’m in.  for a while, i was pulling moods from the all music guide and tagging all of my mp3s with those moods so i could then do a search by mood and create a playlist that way, but the problem with that is a) it’s a lot of work tagging 30,000 files, b) not all of those artists have moods listed in allmusic, and c) you often get a disproportionate weight for artists you have more stuff by.  this is why pandora is great, because pandora’s engine works exactly like this.  you say “i want to listen to thom yorke” and pandora generates a playlist based on the musical qualities of thom yorke.  but when you have 30,000 mp3s, it seems like a waste to use pandora all the time (at least until they develop a plugin for winamp).

itunes genius solved this by crossreferencing the artists in your library with the gracenote database and generating randomized playlists based on the connections between the artists.  most of the time the results are pretty good, although it was always somewhat disconcerting to get donna summer in an amanda palmer mix (their relationship is, what, they’re both female?).  but itunes suffers from using a library file that doesn’t automatically update — when you get new music, you need to add it to the library manually (or buy it at the itunes store, i suppose), and this is obnoxious just to be able to use a playlist generator that actually works.  winamp can automatically update your library, and it uses the same gracenote database to power their playlist generator.  however, winamp playlist generator chokes on large music libraries.  it’s been much-discussed, and lamented, that the feature is broken when you have more than a couple thousand files (6,000 has been reported as the magic number) in your library and the workaround is time-consuming.  even when it is working, both genius and winamp often fail to recognize artists that should be included in a mix; for example, a garage blues/punk mix with the white stripesthe gossip, & the black keys fails to recognize the lesser-known heartless bastards which should nonetheless be included in the mix.  if you’re exclusively using a playlist generator like this to listen to your music, this essentially limits your entire collection to just the stuff gracenote knows about, which is obnoxious.

there is another way.  once upon a time there was a plugin that was built into winamp called MusicIP.  development on the plugin has ceased, the company that made it was purchased after creating a standalone app with the technology, and the new parent has moved on to better things.  in short, it has become what we occasionally call in the biz “abandonware.”  moreover, after searching the net for said plugin, i only found the standalone app.  my suspicion is that winamp moved to gracenote instead of supporting this independent developer and when that happened, they lost their main source of funding and had to sell the company.  it’s unfortunate because, after getting my hands on a copy of the plugin, it really is awesome and works well for being an alternative for people trying to use the nullsoft playlist generator and getting the dreaded “playlist generator failed to initialize” error message.

here’s how it works: you install the plugin via a normal .exe file.  now in winamp you have a MusicIP Mix menu in your media library, and the plugin configuration options appear under Media Library and Plugins → Media Library in your Preferences.  The first thing you need to do is register your library.  I started this and then came back to it the next day.  When I came back it told me that 33,077 tracks were mixable and only 21 were left to validate.  i have quite a lot of music done by myself and friends and their bands (much more than 21 tracks though!), so presumably the 21 unverified tracks are from those files, some lingering wav (or other unrecognized format) files, or audiobooks i have hanging around.  this theory that all of the music was mixable was tested and proven when one of my own compositions came up in an idm/dark electronic mix based on autechre.  the track of mine MusicIP selected fit with the rest of the mix.  this could be put down just to good tagging, but whenever winamp’s playlist generator pulled my stuff, it always stuck out like a sore thumb, like it thought i was some different artist in its database.

after your library is done validating, all you need to do (after tweaking the settings in preferences) is find a track you want to use as the base seed for the random playlist, right click → Send To → MusicIP Mix.  after a couple seconds’ processing it will flip over to the MusicIP Mix tab in your library and show you your playlist.  you can play it from here or add it to your playlist queue.  it’s more or less the same as the winamp playlist generator except that the winamp generator dumps the playlist directly into your playlist window, whereas MusicIP holds it in its’ own tab for you to do with as you please.  this is actually a good thing if you’re like me and start playing a mix and then adding new stuff to it over time — with winamp’s generator, you’d have to either add that new stuff manually, or generate a new list, or save your current list, make a new list and copy the tracks from the first list into the new one.

my second test was building a list based on thom yorke.  it pulled a lot of avant garde alternative singer/songwriter stuff like david bowienick cave and fiona apple.  at first i thought this was a bit off, after all, the eraser is much more of an idm album along the same lines of autechre, which was what i was going for.  but after i thought about it (and after it pulled a track from the bends) i realized that it was pulling tracks that were relevant not only to thom yorke but also to radiohead, so it was smart enough to know that thom yorke was a member of radiohead and was indexing artists similar to radiohead as well.  while desired results weren’t exactly what i expected, it didn’t actually throw off the mix, and showed that the engine is actually pretty intelligent if it’s able to make a leap from thom yorke to radiohead.

since development on the MusicIP standalone app has stopped, the original company was bought by someone else, and there’s no real funding (that i can see) going into it, and because it does connect to some online database to generate relationships, i imagine that eventually this plugin will stop working when it can’t connect to the central server.  in the meantime, i’m providing the download here for anyone who’s interested in using this awesome — if unsupported and lost — winamp plugin.

download MusicIP Mixer
downloaded [downloadcounter(musicip)] times

30 Replies to “MusicIP Mix handles huge mp3 libraries better than WinAmp [Abandonware]”

    1. hmm…not sure what's up with that. i know it's an older plugin, so it may have to do with what version you're running and what operating system. the system i'm running it on is actually running windows server 2003, but as far as most things are concerned it behaves like windows xp/2000 and i haven't tried it on my win 7 machines so i'm not sure if it would work on vista/7. other than that, i'm pretty sure the version of winamp i'm running on that box is the latest version downloaded from winamp.com, so assuming you're running the most recent version it should be ok…

  1. Amazing, I loved this when it came with winamp, it was cool

    sad that when I right click using the musicip mix pane I dont get all the normal right click options I would though, like sent to playlist or replaygain

    I'm sure theres an easy way to work it out though, I'll figure it out

    I hope the server doesn't go down, that did cross my mind, if it does boy do we need a hackjob one when it does :U

    1. that occurred to me, also. from going to the new company's site, though, it seems like the technology their pushing is largely based on the engine/database that powers MusicIP, at least a lot of it, especially the standalone player. as long as that remains true, those of us using this plugin will be fine. that's not to say they won't, at some point, host the database/server/whatever at a different address, or move it to a different port, but they'd do that at a risk of alienating even their own customers who are just using older versions of the software, so again, as long as they're around, we should be okay…
      My recent post honesty wins more friends than enemies

  2. Just thought I should let you know I got it to work in Windows7.

    Downloaded, turned off Winamp. Installed.
    Started Winamp. I then had a MusicIP Mix as the last entry in my Media Library (left panel). When I clicked on that, it said I should register my library.
    But there was no way of doing that, not in the Media Library, and not from the plugin-configuration.

    What I did was to go to my media library, top (all), right-click and send it to MusicIP Mix. This gave the message "as you have not yet registered your music…" and gave me the option of doing so.
    And of course, I did :D

    It took some time (I have 90.000+ audio-files), but it was quicker than the gracenote-plugin. It found 88.000 of the tracks, have not figured out what tracks was excluded. (FLAC or APE? Or does it exclude tracks that appear more than once?)

    It seems to be working like a charm, although I agree that the connections it makes when suggesting tracks, sometimes eludes me.

    1. I'll try that on mine. WinAmp was regularly freezing/crashing until I did some cleanup and that included uninstalling MusicIP. I'll try this and see if it works for me as well. Thanks for the tip!

  3. A little update.
    I have come to love this little app.

    Winamp is still the ONLY player I have found to actually work with my 90' songs, and the MusicIP has given me a new view of my own music. It is doing a great job mixing music that fits my current mode.
    Typical scenario: I want to listen to THAT song because it fits my mode, and I add it to MusicIP, and there it is. Several songs that fit my mode.

    The ordinary winamp-plugin was "easier", but who cares, if it doesn't work, "easy" does not cut it.

    I might add, Winamp is currently crashing on me when I try to add .mpg and .mpeg files, but my music is back!!

  4. I love MusicIP too! I think it depends on the same database as for example Music Brainz, and hopefully it doesn't look like it's closing down!

    1. Well, I tried it both with Download Accelerator and thru my browser (Maxthon) but both times it came up corrupt. No worries, the one from the link I gave works. However………
      What causes MusicIP to not be able to not validate some tracks? All the tags are correct and i've even re-encoded some to see if that was the problem, to no avail? Any tips?

      1. Yeah, I've actually been getting that too with larger files lately, now that I've had a chance to test it. :/ Might need to switch to mediafire or something…

        About the validating issue — I'm pretty sure the thing with that is that it's just not in MusicIPs database, and, as such, there isn't much you can do about it. That's been my theory anyway.

  5. I have begun using MusicIP Mix again just very recently; I only have ~3700 tracks on my laptop, but even that's 7+ days (nearly 8) of non-stop music. It seems to be chugging through my tracks pretty consistently, but so far, while it shows that over 1800 of the tracks are mixable, I've yet to be able to. (Currently listening to "Paradise City" by Guns n Roses…)

    Will try a custom mix thing tomorrow AM. Hopefully it will have chugged through the whole lot by then.

  6. j-__Hi. Thanks for the lesson here!__I've been using Robert's Podcatcher to load my players, and now hope for better mixes using the MusicIP standalone.____Regarding the plugin.__I have some 50K tracks on a standalone usb hardrive and find Winamp idenifying them, but when it come time to read the track info Winamp crashes within a minute or two.__Any idea?__A problem with an avi included in the same folder?__Flac files?__Just too much info to pass over USB?____Anyway, as of right now the app is at a little over 30% into processing, after successfully reading the standalone

    1. I've considered all of those possibilities, at least when it comes to WinAmp's playlist generator, and I think after a certain point the database file just gets too big for WinAmp to process it and dies. I hoped that with the latest update, the playlist generator would be fixed, but no luck.

      If you're having that problem with the MusicIP plugin, there's two possibilities I see though I'm hardly an expert: the first is that if it's not done going through your collection (and it will take a while), then it's not going to recognize a large portion of your tracks. The second possibility is that the tracks aren't in the database. Someone here mentioned that Music Brainz uses the same artist database, but no artist database is going to be complete, and the accuracy of the relationships between artists is only as good as the algorithm and methods they use to connect them. There's always going to be stuff missing.

      That said, I have a hypothesis that audio files that are not mp3 files (possibly even including wma files) aren't supported. Wma files have a weird sort of tagging that I know is difficult to work with and make compatible with ID3 and ID3v2 tags on mp3s from when I played with Ampache. FLACs and other lossless audio have no built-in tagging (at least that's easily readable by other applications) and Ogg Vorbis, while it supports tags, is often forgotten. So if I had to guess, I'd say that non-standard files may be the issue, though with 50k tracks it would be pretty tedious to find out for sure. I remember back in the day using the SqrSoft Crossfader, WinAmp would die if it hit a wma file after an mp3. That problem was ultimately fixed, but it does make you realize that quite often the file formats don't play nice together and aren't always supported fully.

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  8. I’ve been looking for something like this for a few years now. I really want to stop using iTunes and am currently still stuck with my favorite winamp version 2.9.5 – what version did you use this plugin with?

    Since the article is quite old, maybe you’ve got a better solution?

    1. I was using WinAmp 5.something, but I don’t remember now what I was using. I also noticed it seemed to get buggier after a couple iterations of WinAmp and I eventually gave up on the whole thing and went back to iTunes (and, in so doing, ensured I could never go back by letting iTunes organize my folders since that was the only way to get it to automatically add new mp3s to the library). That said, I don’t use Genius/MusicIP/Playlist Generator so much anyway. I’ve been doing Smart Playlists instead, which you can do in current versions of WinAmp, too (not the one you have, though, I don’t think). One thing for the current WinAmp I would warn about, though, it’s gotten awfully bloated. I think the MusicIP thing would work for you if you had WinAmp 3.0+

  9. @Ovidiu I believe I used it with WinAmp 5.something, though I did notice it got buggier after a couple updates. I eventually gave up on the whole thing and went back to iTunes (and ensured I could never use anything else by letting iTunes “organize” my folders because that was the only way to get it to automatically add new music to the library). But I don’t really used the whole Genius/MusicIP/Playlist Generator thing so much anymore, mostly I have been making Smart Playlists for stuff like that, and using extensive tagging to try to start getting some of the same stuff going on. I think MusicIP requires WinAmp 3.x+, so you could probably use it if you upgraded to a slightly newer version, assuming you could find that.

  10. Wow, thanks for this! I’ve been looking for a decent replacement for a long time and this fits the bill perfectly!If it’s abandonware, what’s the chance that the original designers wouldn’t mind someone dusting it off and giving it a bit of well-deserved TLC? 

  11. Wow, thanks for this! I’ve been looking for a decent replacement for a long time and this fits the bill perfectly!If it’s abandonware, what’s the chance that the original designers wouldn’t mind someone dusting it off and giving it a bit of well-deserved TLC? 

    1.  @dreadofmondays That might be sketchy territory depending on whether the company that purchased MusicIP and is distributing it as a standalone app is still around (I haven’t looked into it in a long time), but if you’re able to fork it and plug into the database it uses as the recommendation engine, more power to you :) That said, these days there are a million and one web-apps that do recommendations, many of which use an open API, so it may be easier (if someone had the programming chops) to just hook into one of those.  I’m still holding out for a Pandora plugin, though.

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