Table of Contents

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Maintain ratings & playcounts for your mpd server..

This manual corresponds to mpdpopm version 0.2.3.

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1 Introduction

mpdpopm provides a companion daemon to MPD that will maintain play counts, ratings, & last-played timestamps for your music library, along with an associated CLI for talking to the companion daemon. Similar to mpdfav, but written in Rust (which I prefer to Go), it will maintain this information in your sticker database. Along the lines of mpdcron, it will also allow you to keep that information up-to-date in your tags or other data stores by invoking external (user-provided & -configured) commands.

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2 Getting Started

NB. The project README contains the reference instructions for mpdpopm installation.

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2.1 Prerequisites

mpdpopm is distributed in a number of formats. The prerequisites depend on the distribution format, but in any event you need to have MPD installed & running in order to use mpdpopm. See also Setting up mpd.

The pre-built binary distribution, the Debian package, and the Arch binary package require no other pre-requisites.

Downloading mpdpopm from requires the Rust toolchain.

Building from source via the Autotools distribution further requires the Gnu Autools.

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2.2 Installing mpdpopm

mpdpopm may be installed in a number of ways. Refer to the project README for the most up-to-date instructions.

  1. Pre-built binaries are available for Linux & MacOS.
  2. mpdpopm can be installed from
  3. There is a binary package available for x86_64 Debian-based Linux systems.
  4. There is a binary package available for x86_64 Arch-based Linux systems.
  5. There is an Autotools-based distribution available.

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2.3 Setting up mpdpopm

mpdpopm provides two programs:

  1. mppopmd is the companion daemon process to MPD
  2. mppopm is the command-line interface to mppopmd

Both programs make use of the MPD protocol, a simple text-based protocol by which clients can communicate with the MPD daemon and with one another. From the perspective of MPD, mppopm & mppopmd are just new clients. Via this protocol mppopmd will monitor MPD for song playback & note when songs complete; this is how it knows to increment the playcount & update the last played timestamp for each song to which you listen.

Also via the protocol, MPD clients can communicate with one another by registering "channels" and subscribing to them; one client can send a message to a given channel, and all other clients subscribed to that channel will receive that message. In particular, if an MPD client sends the "rating" command to the mppopmd commands channel (the channel name is configurable, but defaults to ""), mppopmd will set the rating for the given track.

The mechanism by which mppopmd records this information (i.e play counts, last played and ratings) is MPD stickers. A sticker is a little bit of textual information which clients can attach to songs in the form of a name-value pair. mpdpopm defines a new sticker name (again configurable) for each of these items & udpates the values for each song when & as requested.

Of course, other MPD clients will not, in general, be aware of mppopmd, its command channel, or the stickers it sets: you the user will have to bridge that gap. You could of course just fire-up netcat & start sending commands, but that’s not particularly convenient. That’s where mppopm comes in. It is a small command-line tool for controlling the mppopmd daemon; you could for instance say mppopm set-rating '*****' to rate the current track at five stars. Under the hood, it connects to the MPD daemon, sends a "rating" message to the mppopmd commands channel, and mppopmd, in turn, tells MPD to set the rating sticker for the curren track to 255 (more on the rating system below).

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2.3.1 Setting-up mpd

Configuring & setting up MPD is beyond the scope of this manual; see the MPD manual here.

One note, however: in order for mpdpopm to function, MPD must be configured to enable the sticker database. This is done via the sticker_file configuration item. The user as whom mppopmd is run will need access to the file named therein and its parent directories. See here for details.

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2.3.2 Setting up mppopmd

mppopmd is the companion daemon to MPD. Once installed, most configuration items have sensible defaults, but there are a few that will need to be customized to the user’s particular taste (mostly having to do with their MPD configuration).

It is recommended that it be run in the foreground initially (using the -F flag) for purposes of trouble-shooting, but after that the user will likely want to run it as a daemon.

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The configuration file’s location is specified on the mppopmd command-line (using the -c flag). It takes the form of a LISP S-expression in which each top-level configuration item is a cons cell. LISP comments will be ignored.

General-purpose items:

Configuration items related to maintaining play counts & last-played timestamps:

Configuration items related to ratings:

Finally, the configuration for generalized commands is not described here, but rather under Generalized Commands.

mpdpopm ships with a minimal sample configuration file. A more expansive sample appears at the end of this manual (see Sample Configuration File).

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Once you’ve got your configuration file prepared, you should probably start the daemon in the foreground for ease of trouble-shooting. I suggest starting it with the -v flag ("verbose") the first time, as well (there’s also a -d flag which will produce more copious debug output). You should expect to see something like this:

mppopmd -v -F -c <path to configuration file>
[2020-12-12T15:26:19.620806454-08:00][mppopmd] mppopmd 0.2.2 logging at level Debug.
[2020-12-12T15:26:19.621395828-08:00][mpdpopm] mpdpopm 0.2.2 beginning.
[2020-12-12T15:26:19.621998677-08:00][mpdpopm::clients] Connected 0.22.0.
[2020-12-12T15:26:19.623398521-08:00][mpdpopm::clients] Connected 0.22.0.
[2020-12-12T15:26:19.623874861-08:00][mpdpopm::clients] Sent subscribe message for; got `OK
[2020-12-12T15:26:19.623888424-08:00][mpdpopm::clients] Subscribed to
[2020-12-12T15:26:19.624985027-08:00][mpdpopm] selecting...
[2020-12-12T15:26:19.628412738-08:00][mpdpopm] output status is Ok(
    Output {
        status: ExitStatus(
        stdout: "/home/sp1ff\n",
        stderr: "",
[2020-12-12T15:26:19.628778521-08:00][mpdpopm] No database update needed
[2020-12-12T15:26:19.628817190-08:00][mpdpopm] No more commands to process.

At this point mppopmd is just sitting around, waiting for something to happen. Bring up your favorite MPD client & start playing a track. That should induce some activity:

[2020-12-12T15:26:29.522581696-08:00][mpdpopm::clients] Sent idle message; got `changed: player
[2020-12-12T15:26:29.522756287-08:00][mpdpopm] subsystem Player changed
[2020-12-12T15:26:29.527064915-08:00][mpdpopm::playcounts] Updating status: 0.000% complete.
[2020-12-12T15:28:19.653519123-08:00][mpdpopm::playcounts] Updating status: 60.698% complete.
[2020-12-12T15:28:19.653569350-08:00][mpdpopm::playcounts] Increment play count for 'M/Miles Davis - Boplicity.mp3' (songid: 262) at 0.6069790770994554 played.
[2020-12-12T15:28:19.661696678-08:00][mpdpopm::clients] Sent message `sticker get song "M/Miles Davis - Boplicity.mp3" ""'; got `sticker:
[2020-12-12T15:28:19.661743547-08:00][mpdpopm::playcounts] Current PC is 3.
[2020-12-12T15:28:19.770956673-08:00][mpdpopm::clients] Sent `sticker set song "M/Miles Davis - Boplicity.mp3" "" "1607815699"'; got `OK
[2020-12-12T15:28:19.868244915-08:00][mpdpopm::clients] Sent `sticker set song "M/Miles Davis - Boplicity.mp3" "" "4"'; got `OK

In this example, mppopmd noticed that "Boplicity" by Miles Davis started playing; when it was played 60% of the way through, the daemon updated the play count from 3 to 4 & set the last played timestamp.

Once things seem to be working, you might consider removing the -F flag & running mppopmd as a proper daemon. mpdopm ships with a sample systemd unit.

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2.3.3 Setting up mppopm

On it’s own, mppopmd will happily sit in the background, monitoring playback & keeping play counts & last-played timestamps up-to-date. In order to rate a song, or indeed to do anything with the information that’s being accumulated, the user will need to induce their favorite MPD client to send the relevant commands (see mppopmd Commands) to the mppopmd commands channel (see mppopmd Configuration), or fire-up something like netcat and start entering the commands manually.

Since neither of those options are likely to be convenient, mpdpopm ships with a small, purpose-built MPD client: mppopm (see mppopm Commands).

Up: Setting up mppopm   [Contents][Index] mppopm Configuration

The mppopm CLI needs to know where to find the MPD daemon, as well as the names of the mpdpopm commands channel & sticker names. These configuration items all have default values. They may also be specified on the command line, a configuration file, or an environment variable. The order of presendence is:

  1. command-line arguments
  2. the configuration file
  3. environment

The configuration file defaults to ~/.mppopm, but may be specified on the command line. Like that of mppopmd, it is a LISP S-expression, where each item is a cons cell.

The mppopm configuration items:

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3 The commands

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3.1 mppopm Commands

mppopm supports a number of sub-commands for carrying out various operations related to mpdpopm. You can always see the complete list of sub-commands your particular build of mppopm supports by saying mppopm --help, and get detailed help on a particular sub-command by saying mppopm SUB-COMMAND --help.

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3.1.1 mppopm Rating Commands

mppopm can be used to set & retrieve ratings for your music library. It can also be used to filter on the basis of rating mppopm Filter Commands.

mppopm get-rating will retrieve the current song’s rating & print it on stdout. mppopm get-rating URI will interpret “URI” as an MPD song URI & display it’s rating on stdout. mppopm get-rating URI... will do the same for multiple songs. Ratings are expressed as an integer between 0 & 255 inclusive, with the convention that a rating of zero denotes “un-rated”.

mppopm set-rating ARG will set the current song’s rating to “ARG”. “ARG” may be an integer between 0 & 255, or it may be expressed as one to five “stars”: “*” deontes one star, “**” two stars and so forth. “Stars” are mapped to numeric ratings as per Winamp:











Finally, mppopm set-rating ARG SONG will interpret “SONG” as a song URI & set that song’s rating to “ARG”.

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3.1.2 mppopm Play Count Commands

mppopm get-pc will print the play count of the current song on stdout. mppopm get-pc ARG will interpret “ARG” as a song URI & print that song’s play count to stdout. mppopm get-pc ARG... will print the play count for each argument on stdout.

mppopm set-pc ARG will set the play count for the current song to “ARG”, where “ARG” is an unsigned integer. mppopm set-pc ARG SONG will set the play count for “SONG” to “ARG”.

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3.1.3 mppopm Last Played Commands

mppopm get-lp will print the last played time of the current song in seconds since Unix epoch on stdout. mppopm get-lp ARG will interpret “ARG” as a song URI & print that song’s last played timestamp to stdout. mppopm get-lp ARG... will print the last played timestamp for each argument on stdout.

mppopm set-lp ARG will set the last played timestamp for the current song to “ARG”, where “ARG” is an unsigned integer interpreted as seconds since Unix epoch. mppopm set-lp ARG SONG will set the last played timestamp for “SONG” to “ARG”.

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3.1.4 mppopm Filter Commands

Having accumulated play counts, ratings &c in one’s sticker database one can now begin acting on that information. For instance, here is a bash shell script to add all un-rated songs to the play queue:

exec 3<>/dev/tcp/localhost/6600;
head -1 <&3

declare -A rated
echo "sticker find song \"\"" >&3
while true; do
    read -r -u 3 line
    case $line in
            echo "$line" >&2;
            exit 1;;
            echo "error: $line" >&2;
            exit 1;;

exec 4<>/dev/tcp/localhost/6600;
head -1 <&4
echo "command_list_begin" >&4

echo "listall" >&3
while true; do
    read -r -u 3 line
    case $line in
            echo "$line" >&2;
            exit 1;;
            if test -z "${rated[${line:6}]}" -o "${rated[${line:6}]}" == "0"; then
                echo "adding ${line:6}"
                echo "add \"${line:6}\"" >&4

exec 3<&-
echo "command_list_end" >&4
head -1 <&4
exec 4<&-

In search of a more ergonomic way to make use of this information, mpdpopm now has support for filters. Filters are an MPD feature for searching one’s song database; one can select songs for various operations by filters such as “(artist =~ ’pogues’)”, for instance. mpdpopm’s contribution is to extend the MPD filter syntax to add ratings, play counts & last-played timestamps (“rating”, “playcount” & “lastplayed” resp.) to the filter syntax.

The first two filter-related commands added to mppopm are searchadd and findadd. Each accepts a filter as an argument and adds the selected songs to the the play queue. The only difference is that searchadd works case-insensitively & findadd respects case.

Consequently, the shell script above can now be replaced by the command mppopm findadd ``(rating == 0)''. NB. filter syntax requires textual values to be quoted, so you’ll need to escape them for the shell. For instance, to select songs with an artist like “pogues”, the filter syntax would be (artist =~ “pogues”), so to specify this on the command line, you would have to escape the double quotes: mppopm searchadd ``(artist =~ \"pogues\")''.

See below for a detailed description of filter syntax & quoting issues.

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The mpdpopm filter syntax is a (small) superset of the MPD syntax. The following is a grammar for filter expressions in modified BNF:

<expr> ::= <term> | <negation> | <conjunction> | <disjunction>
<term> ::= "(" <comparison> ")"

<negation> ::= "(" "!" <expr> ")"

<conjunction> ::= "(" <conj-list> ")"

<conj-list> ::= <expr> "AND" <expr> |
                <expr> "AND" <conj-list>

<disjunction> ::= "(" <disj-list> ")"

<disj-list> ::= <expr> "OR" <expr> |
                <expr> "OR" <disj-list>

<comparison> ::= <tag> <op> <qtext>                             |
                 "file" "==" <qtext>                            |
                 "base" <qtext>                                 |
                 "modified-since" <qtext>                       |
                 "AudioFormat" <audio-format-op> <audio-format> |
                 <mpdpopm-numeric-tag> <numeric-op> <number>    |
                 "lastplayed" <numeric-op> <date-or-epoch>

<tag> ::= "artist" | "artistsort" | "album" | "albumsort" |
          "albumartist" | "albumartistsort" | "title" | "track" |
          "name" | "genre" | "date" | "originaldate" | "composer" |
          "performer" | "conductor" | "work | "grouping" | "comment" |
          "disc" | "label" | "musicbrainz_artistid" |
          "musicbrainz_albumid" | "musicbrainz_albumartistid" |
          "musicbrainz_trackid" | "musicbrainz_releasetrackid" |

<op> ::= "==" | "!=" | "contains" | "=~" | "!~"

<audio-format-op> ::= "==" | "=~"

<audio-format> ::= "'" <samplerate>:<bits>:<channels> "'"

<mpdpopm-numeric-tag> ::= "rating" | "playcount"

<numeric-op> ::= "==" | "!=" | "<" | "<=" | ">" | ">="

<number> ::= [0-9]+

<qtext> ::= text enclosed in either single- or double-quotes; if the text
            contains single- or double-quotes, or backslashes, they shall
            be backslash-escaped

<date-or-epoch> ::= either <number> or a single- or double-quoted ISO
                    8601 timestamp

In the above grammar, the non-terminals <samplerate>, <bits>, and <channels> are undefined; please see the MPD manual for details on how to specify them.

Note that tags are matched without regard to case; for consistency’s sake, mpdpopm-defined attributes are also matched case-insensitively.

For a detailed description of how tags are matched, also please see the MPD manual, since mpdpopm delegates the evaluation of all terms already supported by MPD to thereto.

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The non-terminal qtext appears frequently in the mpdpopm filter grammar (see mppopm Filter Syntax). These textual tokens are required to be enclosed in quotation marks, either by single-quote or a double-quote characters (ASCII characters 39 or 34, respectively; cf. ExpectQuoted in the MPD codebase) This brings up the question of how to represent single- or double-quotes inside the quoted text. MPD employs the time-honored tradition of “escaping” them with a backslash character (ASCII character 92). This then implies that backslashes in the quoted text must themselves be backslash-escaped.

For example, to test against the text


using double-quotes, we would enclose the text in " characters, and backslash-escape any ", ', and \ characters therein, to obtain


We could also choose to quote the text using single-quotes in the same manner:


Tragically, to use this text in a filter in the shell with mppopm, we will need to again quote the text in order to protect special characters therein from the shell.

Let us suppose we had songs by the pathologically named artist foo\bar”. A properly quoted filter expression would be:

(artist == "foo\\bar\"")

To invoke this on the command line, however, we would need to quote the filter itself (to make it into a single argument for mppopm), which would require quoting the entire filter:

mppopm findadd "(artist =~ \"foo\\\\bar\\\"\")"

In this particular case, quoting the filter using single-quotes might be simpler

mppopm findadd '(artist == "foo\\bar\"")'

If the artist name contained a single-quote, e.g.


We could quote it using "s

(artist =~ "foo\'bar")

but to express this in the shell we would need to protect the single-quote from bash:

mppopm findadd '(artist =~ "foo\'"'"'bar")'

Quoting the artist name using 's, and protecting that from the shell is left as an exercise for the reader.

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3.2 mppopmd Commands

This section discusses mppopmd command syntax & will be of interest only to authors of MPD clients that want to communicate with mppopmd.

Clients can invoke mppopmd commands via the sendmessage MPD command to the mppopmd commands channel, e.g.

$>: nc localhost 6600
OK MPD 0.22.0
sendmessage "rate 255"

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3.2.1 Quoting

The sendmessage command takes two string arguments: the channel & the message. Both must be quoted according to the rules of the MPD protocol. Per the MPD manual, “If arguments contain spaces, they should be surrounded by double quotation marks”.

More generally, in the MPD protocol:

  1. an un-quoted token may contain any printable ASCII character except space, tab, ' & "
  2. to include spaces, tabs, '-s or "-s, the token must be enclosed in "-s, and any "-s or \-s therein must be backslash escaped. NB. 's need not be escaped, if they occur within a quoted string (although doing so is harmless)

Since mppopmd commands generally take arguments, they will contain spaces, and hence need to be quoted. For instance, the “rate” command above takes at least one argument (the rating) and so the text “rate 255” had to be enclosed in double-quotes.

Commands that take filters as arguments will not only contain spaces, but also "s and/or 's and possible backslashes, so quoting will be more involved. Cf. libmpdclient for a reference implemenation of the quoting algorithm.

As a worked example, suppose we wanted to send the findadd command with the (filter) argument of:

(artist =~ 'foo\'bar')

The filter itself needs to be quoted to make it a single parameter:

"(artist =~ \'foo\\\'bar\')"

Giving us a command of

findadd "(artist =~ \'foo\\\'bar\')"

This contains spaces, so we wrap it in double-quotes and escape all special characters therein, giving us the final message as it would appear on the wire:

sendmessage "findadd \"(artist =~ \\\'foo\\\\\\\'bar\\\')\""

See also here for the MPD parsing logic.

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3.2.2 Supported Commands

mppopmd supports the following commands:

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4 Advanced Usage

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4.1 Keeping Your Tags Up-to-date

It may be that the information managed by mpdpopm is replicated in other locations. For instance, the author has play counts also recorded in the PCNT & POPM frames of the ID3 tags attached to his music files, and ratings in the POPM frame, as well. For that reason, mppopmd has the ability to run arbitrary commands after updating stickers. This feature was developed for the purpose of keeping ID3 tags up-to-date, but one could do anything (pop up a notification, update a database &c).

The operations of rating a song and of updating its play count (and associated last played timestamp) may be configured to run an arbitrary program whenever they are carried out. The two salient options are rating_command and playcount_command, respectively. If present in the mppopmd configuration, they should be the absolute path to the program to be executed.

Each has a partner option specifying the parameters that will be supplied to the program when it is run (rating_command_args and playcount_command_args, respectively). These options shall be lists of command-line arguments to be provided, specified as strings. Each may specify an argument of “%full-file” which will, on command execution, be expanded by mppopmd to the absolute path of the song being operated upon.

rating_command_args may also make use of the “%rating” replacement parameter which will be expanded to the rating being applied (expressed as an integer between 0 & 255 inclusive expressed in base 10).

playcount_command_args may also employ the “%playcount” replacement parameter which will be the new play count (again expressed as an integer in base 10).

For example, the author has written an ID3 tagging utility called scribbu which he uses to keep his ID3 tags up-to-date. The following two lines, placed in the mppopmd configuration file, will cause it to invoke the command /home/sp1ff/bin/scribbu popm -a -A -b -o -C %playcount %full-file every time it updates the play count sticker:

(playcount_command . "/home/sp1ff/bin/scribbu")
(playcount_command_args . ("popm" "-a" "-A" "-b" "-o" "" "-C" "%playcount" "%full-file"))

The tokens %playcount & %full-file will be replaced with the new play count and the absolute path to the file backing the current song, respectively.

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4.2 Generalized Commands

The idea of executing arbitrary commands proved useful enough that mpdpopm generalized it: the user can configure arbitrary server-side commands in response to messages received on the mppopmd commands channel. As an example, an entry in the configuration file like this:

  (gen_cmds .
            (((name . "set-genre")
              (formal_parameters . (Literal Track))
              (default_after . 1)
              (cmd . "/home/sp1ff/bin/scribbu")
              (args . ("genre" "-a" "-C" "-g" "%1" "%full-file"))
              (update . TrackOnly)))

will define a new command “set-genre”, with two parameters, the second of which can be omitted (it will default to the current track). When =mppopmd= receives this command (i.e. when a client says something like:

sendmessage "set-genre Rock"

mppopmd will invoke scribbu like so:

/home/sp1ff/scribbu genre -a -C -g Rock "${music-dir}/${song URI}"

where the "psuedo-variables" music-dir and song URI above will be replaced with the configured music directory and the current song’s URI.

The configuration is perforce more complex because we have to, at configuration-time, define a mapping between the actual parameters supplied by a client in the message to “” and the replacement parameters used in the command arguments. The command’s replacement parameters are defined by a simple list, given in formal_parameters, of parameter types. At this time, there are only two formal parameter types:

  1. Literal: the actual parameter shall be copied verbatim into the replacement parameters, under the name “%i” where i is the one-based index of this formal parameter, expressed in base ten
  2. Track: the actual parameter will be interpreted as a song URI; it again may be referred in the replacement parameters as “%i”. Only one Track argument may appear in the list of formal parameters.

Actual parameters after index default_after (counting from one) are optional; if not specified the replacement parameter will take the default value for its type (the empty string for literals, the currently playing song’s URI for tracks).

Two additional parameters are available:

  1. current-file:: the absolute path to the currently playing track (if any)
  2. full-file :: if the list of formal parameters contains a Track argument in slot i, the actual parameter will be interpreted as a song URI, “%i” will return the absolute path to that file (i.e. with music_dir prepended to the actual argument), as will %full-file

Finally, some commands (such as set-genre, above) may change your music collection in such a way as to necessitate an MPD database update after they complete. The update configuration item governs that: it may be set to "NoUpdate", "TrackOnly", or "FullDatabase" to indicate that this command will require no update, an update to the song named by the Track parameter only, or the full database, respectively.

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5 Sample Configuration File

((log . "/home/mgh/var/log/mppopmd.log")
 (host . "")
 (port . 6600)
 (local_music_dir . "/mnt/Took-Hall/mp3")
 (playcount_sticker . "")
 (lastplayed_sticker . "")
 (played_thresh . 0.6)
 (poll_interval_ms . 5000)
 (playcount_command . "/usr/local/bin/scribbu")
 (playcount_command_args . ("popm" "-v" "-a" "-A" "-b" "-o" "" "-C" "%playcount" "%full-file"))
 (commands_chan . "")
 (rating_sticker . "")
 (ratings_command . "/usr/local/bin/scribbu")
 (ratings_command_args . ("popm" "-v" "-a" "-A" "-b" "-o" "" "-r" "%rating" "%full-file"))
 (gen_cmds .
           (((name . "set-genre")
             (formal_parameters . (Literal Track))
             (default_after . 1)
             (cmd . "/usr/local/bin/scribbu")
             (args . ("genre" "-a" "-C" "-g" "%1" "%full-file"))
             (update . TrackOnly))
            ((name . "set-xtag")
             (formal_parameters . (Literal Track))
             (default_after . 1)
             (cmd . "/usr/local/bin/scribbu")
             (args . ("xtag" "-a" "-o" "" "-T" "%1" "%full-file"))
             (update . TrackOnly))
            ((name . "merge-xtag")
             (formal_parameters . (Literal Track))
             (default_after . 1)
             (cmd . "/usr/local/bin/scribbu")
             (args . ("xtag" "-m" "-o" "" "-T" "%1" "%full-file"))
             (update . TrackOnly)))))

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Index Entry  Section

commands, filters: mppopm Filter Commands
commands, generalized: Generalized Commands
commands, last played: mppopm Last Played Commands
commands, mppopmd: mppopmd Commands
commands, play count: mppopm Play Count Commands
commands, rating: mppopm Rating Commands
configuration, mpd: Setting up mpd
configuration, mppopm: mppopm Configuration
configuration, mppopmd: mppopmd Configuration

filters, quoting: mppopm Filter Quoting
filters, quoting (mppopmd): Quoting
filters, syntax: mppopm Filter Syntax

installing: Installing mpdpopm

prerequisites: Prerequisites

tags: Keeping Your Tags Up-to-date

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