About eight years ago, I spent a good portion of a weekend converting our household's music CDs to MP3. A weekend doesn't sound like very much, but I recall using four PCs unisono, going from one to the other to pop in a disk or remove a grabbed disk. At the time I did that on Windows, using a program called Audiograbber for which I recall paying a small fee. I was obviously aware of some MP3 metadata such as track names, numbers and album names, (but not lyrics), and I used the services of freedb.org (built in to Audiograbber) to get the required metadata.
In the course of time I became less and less interested in music, probably brought about because I have a rather annoying (and quite loud) case of tinnitus; music doesn't really help me lower my built-in tweeter. (I'm not sure what to make of this, but music therapy may help cut tinnitus noise levels according to the BBC.)
So, whenever a new CD was purchased, typically by the Missus, the disk landed in a cupboard somewhere together with the other CDs and the gap between digitized and "hard" music increased dramatically over the years. This didn't really matter: without portable MP3 players (which I didn't want) I wasn't really missing anything, was I? Even my iPhone had a few tracks of music only for when the young Miss Mens got bored en route.
Even so, I decided to purchase some Sonos equipment and then a bit more. And what do you know? There is music in the house again! I can't seem to get enough of it.
Sonos means I need all music digitized. No problem there, I'll just rip the CDs that are missing in the electronic library (there aren't so many of those).
Sonos means, like on an iPod Touch or iPhone, that the music only really looks good when it has cover art. I don't recall whether at the time cover art embedded in MP3 was possible or not, or whether the tools I used didn't allow me to do it (I don't feel like looking it up either), suffice to say, that all our digitized albums had no cover art in them. How the hell was I to know that I'd once have a device in my hand that could show me the cover of a CD? ;-)
They do now. The devices, I mean. And the tracks: they have cover art in them.
It took me over two days to find and download cover art and embed that into the tracks of our albums. iTunes (on Mac or Windows) is a tremendous help at doing that, but I did also use Mp3tag on Windows for some of the more brutal work. Volker mentions some tools, but I didn't try those again. I completely wiped my iTunes Music library, importing and consolidating everything anew. I also thought about the few tracks I'd actually purchased over iTunes, but I couldn't be bothered to convert those to MP3, so I destroyed them. Remember what DRM is? My library now contains MP3 tracks only. Basta.
The result is pleasing and the rip days are over.
At least for the popular music: classical to follow, but locating cover art for that is a PITA. Perhaps I'll just leave the CD player connected to the line in on a Zone Player and leave it at that. (Works a beaut too.)
Apropos new music: I will not purchase via iTunes until Apple decides to sell uncrippled music. (The day hell freezes over, I assume...) What I've tried is the Amazon MP3 service, and I rather like it: tracks have cover art embedded in them, the downloader optionally adds the MP3 tracks to iTunes (and drops them into a separate directory if you so wish).
Any other recommendations?