Edit: Amarok 1.4.10 is out for a while now and it includes a bug fix over 126.96.36.199.
When it first starts, Amarok will show a wizard to configure the music collection location and the database to use.
Select the location of your audio collection
Choose database type - SQLite is the default
Amarok allows you to select from three database types, and the default is SQLite, which requires no further configuration, but is slower than the other two available: MySQL and PostgreSQL. You will have to set up the database first in order to use either of those two. I recommend to stick with the default for now.
After you click Finish, Amarok will start scanning your music files and building up the collection. The duration of the scan varies from one PC to another. It took 2 minutes and a half to scan my collection consisting of around 3800 Ogg Vorbis files, on my Core 2 Duo 1.8 GHz. It's not a record, but it's neither slow, considering some other audio players take even 5-7 minutes for the same operation while not providing the same amount of collection features.
Next, populate your playlist by going to Playlist -> Add Media and select the directories in which your music is located.
Populating the playlist
The playlist offers plenty sort options: you can sort by album, title, even bitrate. Basically any information that can be offered about a song at a given time. I always prefer to sort them by path (the Directory column). You can even change the order the columns are shown, or hide the ones which you don't want to be shown.
The playlist and all the sorting options available
The context browser
Changing default theme and appearance
You can change Amarok's default theme with one which suits your taste better, like the Moon theme which I like the most. Go to Settings -> Configure Amarok -> Appearance and either install a new theme from a .tar.gz compressed file or download a new one. You can also configure font sizes and colours from the same tab.
Use scripts to expand functionality
One of the great features Amarok comes with is the ability to expand it using various scripts. Two which I strongly recommend are the ConTEXT script (which will search for text or HTML files in the directory where the currently playing song is located and display the information found in the context browser) and the WikiLyrics (which uses many lyrics search sites in order to display the currently playing song's lyrics in the Lyrics tab). To download those scripts, go to Tools -> Script Manager and click on the Get More Scripts button.
You can also install scripts located on your local hard drive, given that their name ends up in .amarokscript.tar.gz or .amarokscript.tar.bz2.
If you want to use MySQL instead of the default SQLite, you can use the official guide here. Given that you do everything correctly, it shouldn't take longer than 10 minutes to set it up.
Configuring MySQL with username and password - you will also need to configure first the MySQL database from command line
Scanning music collection using the MySQL database
Another good feature Amarok has is an integrated file browser, which allows you to easily drag and drop files and folder directly into the playlist. It's very useful, especially that it also offers Konqueror's Properties when you right click on any file or folder.
Drag and drop files directly into the playlist
Integrated music shop - Magnatune
Magnatune is a service which allows artists to sell and promote music licensed under a Creative Commons license. Amarok integrated this service in a separate tab, which will be displayed in the place of the context browser when selected.
Magnatune music shop
Powerful tag editor
Amarok's tag editor allows you to edit tags for many songs at once. You can select for example all the songs belonging to an album, right click on any of them, go to Edit Information for N Tracks... and fill in data like album, artist, genre and year. After you save it, all the songs will have their tags completed, so you'll only need to fill in data like song title individually for each file.
Editing tags - Amarok allows to edit tags for several songs at once
Updated: Sep 15, 2008