Managing your Music Collection in Ubuntu

When I was but a young lil nerdling in middle school & high school, I was ripped. No, I wasn’t born that way. I didn’t work out. I wasn’t a jock. I was a music fan.

If you don’t see the connection, well, you obviously didn’t grow up in the 1990’s. Back then, anyone who cared about music more than listening to the radio probably carried around a CD case with all their favorite tunes, and I was indeed a greedy little n00blet and brought my massive CD collection everywhere with me, because you never knew when your Kill ’em All disc would come in handy (which for me was practically every day…stupid school bus).

Anyways, when MP3 files started getting popular, I jumped on that bandwagon quick as a frog leaping from a dynamite pond, and I haven’t looked back since. I started with MacAMP (yeah I was a Mac kid back in the 90’s, when Gil Amelio was committed to killing Apple and even Steve Jobs wouldn’t use a Mac), but then switched to iTunes once the iPod started tea-bagging the music industry.

Getting to the point: if you are anything like me, your music collection is ESSENTIAL to having a computer that is halfway usable. Sure, these days we have things like Spotify and Pandora, but it just isn’t the same. This guide will help you get your collection up and going on Ubuntu.


– Ubuntu (full install or virtual machine) –

Conveniently, Ubuntu comes with its own music managing program called Rhythmbox. It is powerful, yet lightweight and simple. You can access it at any time through the speaker icon in the menu bar and choosing “Rhythmbox”.

It’s always there. Watching. Waiting.

Once open, you get a nice friendly application that is practically begging you to give it music. Why not oblige?

– Music (CD/music file) –

Whether you purchased some music on the internet, got it from a torrent, or your friend shared some with you on Dropbox, or ripped it from a music disc, you can add it to Rhythmbox.

.mp3 files are still the most prolific format, but you also run into a lot of .mp4 (which is also known as .m4a) thanks to Apple. A third format you might run into is FLAC (click here for a guide to converting FLAC to mp3 in Linux on All of these formats are support by Rhythmbox, although you will most likely have to install a plug-in or two to use it (if you try to add a file that needs a plug-in, Rhythmbox will ask you if you want to download the appropriate plug-in. Just pick “yes” and it will do it for you).

extra media
I trust everything I get from the internet.

I’m not sure if dubstep can be imported into Rhythmbox tho because I have NEVER EVER TRIED IT.

One way to add music is by drag and drop. Open the Home folder, navigate to where your music is and drag it into the Rhythmbox window. Easy.

Click and hold on the folders, and drag them to Rhythmbox

You can also click the “Import” button and find/search for the file with a simple browser. This is generally faster than the drag-and-drop method.

It is possible to select multiple folders.


Oops! You accidentally imported that Papa Roach song you thought you had deleted in 2002? That’s ok, just right click on it. You can either choose “Remove” and remove the file only from your Rhythmbox library (leaving it to linger in the depths of your hard drive), or you also have the “Move to Trash” option, which will solve the problem for good next time you empty your trash.


If you’re like me, you like your music organized and labeled correctly. Most files are decently labeled, but some need help. Usually when I add something new I will go through and make sure everything is well with the spelling and whatnot so it doesn’t accumulate.

If you see something that is out of whack, right click on it and chose “Properties”. This will bring up a window allowing you to fix it. Don’t be lazy!

Oops, wrong album name…

You can edit multiple files at once, but it has to be a category that has data which is all the same. Example: some of the mp3 files you imported have the band’s name spelled wrong. You can highlight the misspelled ones, right click and go to properties, and correct the spelling only once. This is also useful for editing album dates, genres, and album names. You should not use this method with song names, since each song should have a different name.


A playlist is a modern day mixtape. You can use playlists to split genres of music, make a disc to burn, or separate your music if you share a library with someone else and they have awkward taste.

Additionally, you can create a smart playlist, which is just a filter for music, so you don’t have to constantly add things to your playlist. For instance, you can make a Smart Playlist for Genre: Blues and it will automatically put everything with a “Blues” label in the “Genre” category into one playlist, and it will keep it updated for you. This is why it is important to label your music! Seriously, don’t be lazy.

If the Smart Playlists aren’t good for you, you can drag-and-drop any song (or songs) you want onto the playlist and they will be added.

Hold the Shift key to select multiple files


OK yeah so Rhythmbox is pretty good and comes pre-installed, but what other choices are there?

– Audacious –

The first alternate program I ran across was Audacious.  It was easy to find since it had 5 FREAKING STARS for its review (Rhythmbox only got four).  Also, it is free.

If you thought Rhythmbox was light, Audacious will blow your mind.  It is a simple, straight music player.  No radio stations.  No podcast button.  No fancy-shmancy search filter windows.  Nope, Audacious does what you want it to do: organize and play your music.

Woot! Album art!

Think of Audacious as your home stereo and your CD rack, with nothing else.  Pure.  I’m a fan.

– Clementine –

Another 5-star music managing program is Clementine.  This is much more robust program than either Audacious and Rhythmbox. What I like about it is that you can do just about everything right from the main screen: add playlists, search the hard drive for files, access internet content, sync devices, get info about the artist….all right there.  You don’t need to be opening pop-up screens or pulling down menu items or anything.  What you see is what you get, and what you get is a good music player.

Mindless Dribble

All-in-all, Clementine is alright.  The UI is pretty ugly, even tho it is convenient.  Things are just kind of there.  Still, it works well and does what it needs to do.  In fact, I will probably start to favor this over Rhythmbox.

 – Amarok –

WHOA!  This program is awesome!  Amarok brings all the information of the song you are listening to and bring it in all by itself.  All I did was add an album or two and viola!  There are your lyrics.


A couple more clicks, and it pipes in the Wikipedia page for the band as well.  Color me impressed!

amorak 2
Skrillex and Disco Biscuits? Interesting…

One really cool thing I like about Amarok is that you can put down a Position Marker in a song and it will put a little flag on the time bar so you can come back to a spot in a song.  It even stays if you go to another song and come back!  Think of it as a bookmark for your tunez.

In my opinion, Amarok blows these other music programs out of the water.  However, some people don’t like being bombarded by so much information.  I’m just happy we have a choice.

And that’s pretty much it for managing your music. Remember, kids: don’t be lazy.