Found this on Reddit and I think it’s a good list of the state of modern music tagging. I’m using “competitor” because “alternatives” is already the name of a plugin. But I don’t think any of the free projects mind which one you use. There’s also Moe.
Some UX implications here as well, beets is called “too hard to use” and Picard is recommended instead. I’m not sure Picard and Beets couldn’t unify development. Honestly I would not recommend Beets even for moderately technical users who are not professional programmers right now. But I think they should be our core audience.
Roon is praised, but has a $700/lifetime pricetag. If we can make Beets more user friendly maybe that could be a way to fund development.* (But the success rate for donationware software is very poor.)
I’m a programmer and technically-minded and did find beets a little intimidating at first but once you get under the skin I’m not sure there’s anything else there that can beat (beet?) it. Guess it depends on your use case but it helped me solve my own messy music collection crisis (about 2000 ripped CD with variable tagging and cover art completeness. Once I discovered commands like “edit” and the 'covert" plugin there was no going back for me. Sure it’s complicated but that’s because it’s a total toolkit for fixing and managing your collection.
Regarding Roon: I use it and it is fantastic as a player, player remote and viewer of additional info to your collection, but it does not change the metadata of your collection. It sits “on top” of your files.
I still think, getting the underlying metadata right (with a tool like beets) is a good first step – particularly when you want to step away from Roon at some stage.
To the price tag: They have a monthly subscription of approx $12 as well - not cheap, but their offering is pretty unique indeed.
I would definitely recommend beets to people that have at least some experience with command line tools. They don’t have to be programmers. If they can edit an ini file, they will understand yaml as well. Other than that: Being a tinkerer in general is a prerequisite for a potential beets user. I don’t see beets currently as it should have the goal of trying to be a tool for the mainstream user but try keeping it stable and provide innovative features for those power users.
I do think that there could be better tutorials for users just starting out. I would see them in the quick start section of the beets docs. There is always at least 3 different ways of approaching something with beets. If there would be 3 tutorials describing such ways from start to finish, including commands, config.yaml and potential troubleshooting, that would would really really help event the most eager users to get to their goal quicker. Such quick start guides should have concise linking to advanced topics in the docs.