Integrating a music library: an example with Beets

Liquidsoap’s native sources can read from files and folders, but if your radio uses an important music library (more than a thousand tracks) sorting by folders may not be enough. You will also need to adjust the playout gain per track (ReplayGain). In that case you would better have a music library queried by Liquidsoap. In this section we’ll do this with Beets. Beets holds your music catalog, cleans tracks’ tags before importing, can compute each track’s ReplayGain, and most importantly has a command-line interface we can leverage from Liquidsoap. The following examples may also inspire you to integrate another library or your own scripts.

After installing Beets, enable the random plug-in (see Beets documentation on plug-ins). To enable gain normalization, install and configure the replaygain plug-in. To easily add single tracks to you library, you might also be interested in the drop2beets plug-in. The following examples suppose you defined a BEET constant, which contains the complete path to your beet executable (on UNIX systems, find it with which beet). For example:

BEET = "/home/radio/.local/bin/beet"

Before creating a Liquidsoap source, let’s see why Beets queries are interesting for a radio.

Beets queries

Queries are parameters that you usually provide to the beet ls command : Beets will find matching tracks. The random plug-in works the same, except that it returns only one track matching the query (see the plug-in’s documentation). Once your library is imported, you can try the following queries on the command line by typing beet ls [query] or beet random [query]. To test quickly, add the -t 60 option to beet random so it will select an hour worth of tracks matching your query.

Without selectors, queries search in a track’s title, artist, album name, album artist, genre and comments. Typing an artist name or a complete title usually match the exact track, and you could do a lovely playlist just by querying love.

But in a radio you’ll usually query on other fields. You can select tracks by genre with the genre: selector. Be careful that genre:Rock also matches Indie Rock, Punk Rock, etc. To select songs having english lyrics, use language:eng. Or pick 80s songs with year:1980..1990.

Beets also holds internal meta-data, like added: the date and time when you imported each song. You can use it to query tracks inserted over the past month with added:-1m... Or you can query track imported more than a year ago with added:..-1y. Beets also lets you set your own tags.

You can use the info plug-in to see everything Beets knows about title(s) matching a query by typing beet info -l [query]. See also the Beets’ documentation for more details on queries operators. All these options should allow you to create both general and specialiazed Liquidsoap sources.

A source querying each next track from Beets

As of Liquidsoap 2.x we can create a function that creates a dynamic source, given its id and a Beet query. We rely on request.dynamic to call beet random (with -f '$path' option so beets only returns the matching track’s path) every time the source must prepare a new track:

def beets(id, query) =
  beets_src =
    request.dynamic(id=id, retry_delay=1., {
"#{BEET} random -f '$path' #{query}")

all_music = beets("all_music", "")
recent_music = beets("recent_music", "added:-1m..")
rock_music = beets("rock_music", "genre:Rock")

Note that

  • query can be empty, it will match all tracks in the library.
  • we set retry_delay to a second, to avoid looping on beet calls if something goes wrong.
  • The final type hint (:source) will avoid false typing errors when the source is integrated in complex operators.

Applying ReplayGain

When the replaygain plug-in is enabled, all tracks will have an additional metadata field called replaygain_track_gain. Check that Beet is configured to write ID3 tags so Liquidsoap will be able to read this metadata - your Beet configuration should include something like:

    write: yes

Then we only need to add amplify to our source creation function. In the example below we also add, to automatically cut silence at the beginning or end of tracks.

def beets(id, query) =
  beets_src =
                  "#{BEET} random -f '$path' #{query}"
  (beets_src : source)

This is the recommended Beets integration ; such source will provide music continuously, at a regular volume.

Beets as a requests protocol

If you’re queueing tracks with request.queue, you may prefer to integrate Beets as a protocol. In that case, the list of paths returned by beet random -f '$path' fits directly what’s needed by protocol resolution:

def beets_protocol(~rlog, ~maxtime, arg) =
  timeout = maxtime - time()
  command =
    "#{BEET} random -f '$path' #{arg}"
  p =, command)
    p.status == "exit" and p.status.code == 0
      "Failed to execute #{command}: #{p.status} (#{p.status.code}) #{p.stderr}"
    "same arguments as beet's random module, see \"

Once this is done, you can push a beets query from the telnet server: if you created request.queue(id="userrequested"), the server command userrequested.push beets:All along the watchtower will push the Jimi Hendrix’s song.

With this method, you can benefit from replay gain metadata too, by wrapping the recipient queue in an amplify operator, like

userrequested = amplify(override="replaygain_track_gain", 1.0,