3070 Views 6 Replies Latest reply: Sep 28, 2008 4:27 AM by SilentGuy
*HowTo: Grouping Tracks Into Albums*
Excuse the long post, but hopefully covering all the bases (that I can think of) will help you fix the other issues you are likely to run into as you try to organise your iTunes library.
*Use an album friendly view*
iTunes will let you sort music on many columns, some of which are unlikely to group albums together. The most useful order for editing the library is probably *Album by Artist*. If you're not already there, select the list view and click on the column heading for Artist until it reads Album by Artist.
*One cover, too many tracks*
The iPod (and iTunes to a lesser extent) conflates two or more albums with the same title, most obviously with *Greatest Hits*. On the iPod this can result in one album acting as a combination of two or more. Selecting any cover gives all the tracks of all albums with the same title. The workaround for this "Greatest Hits" bug is to give each album a unique title - I tend to go for *Album - Album Artist* as this reads clearly in the iTunes browser. Alternatively you could use the wording as it appears on the cover or append different numbers of spaces for each different album. Somewhat oddly, setting different values for Sort Album doesn't work.
*Album not with others by same artist*
iTunes relies on the Gracenote CDDB database when identifying CD's. This often marks collections or anthologies of an artist's work as a compilation. In iTunes, however, the compilation flag has the logical function of grouping together tracks with the same album name, but different artists on each track, e.g. "Now That's What I Call Metal 666!". These compilations are then all grouped together at the end of cover flow. Most of us however, would expect "Greatest Hits" albums to be listed with the other albums by the same album artist. For albums which are essentially by a single album artist or group it is best to set the appropriate value for the album artist and clear the compilation flag.
*One album, too many covers*
Sadly the iPod ignores the Album Artist field when grouping albums which causes problems when some tracks list guest artists. You can simply mark the entire album as a compilation which seems to be the way iTMS handles it, however that's not an ideal fix. Short of waiting for Apple to address this issue (and as far as I can tell it goes back to the 1st gen. of iPods) we need a workaround. What I do is to put any additional artist info. in square brackets after the song name. E.g. *Track \[Feat. Guest\]* and then set *Artist=Album Artist* for each track. For anthologies where the Album Artist is credited as part of another group, e.g. for Cream tracks on an Eric Clapton anthology, I use *Track \[As Group\]*. For a track where the main Album Artist doesn't receive a credit, e.g. the first track of the Slim Shady LP credited to Jeff Bass, I just set the track name to *Track \[Guest\]* while still setting the artist to the album artist. N.b. I use square brackets to indicate this is not part of the actual song title and also use this style for Mix/Live/Bonus info.
*One album, still too many covers*
iTunes may split albums into two or more sections if some tracks from the album have different values for Artist, Album Artist, Album, No. of Discs or Part of a Compilation. Tiny differences such as trailing spaces, accented characters or variants of symbols can sometimes be quite hard to spot. The iPod is also more sensitive to case variations and may split or reorder an album that looks okay in iTunes. Normally overtyping the desired value for each shared field will complete the grouping of the album into one entity. Occasionally, however, this method seems to fail. When this happens I've found that you can force every field to update properly by adding some extra text - e.g. a trailing X, which once applied seems to complete the joining of the tracks into one album. Once this has happened the extra data can be removed and the album should remain properly grouped.
*Tried that, there are STILL too many covers!*
The Sort Artist, Sort Album & Sort Album Artist fields can be used to override the normal sort order. For example iTunes automatically drops leading prepositions (a/an/the) so "The Beatles" are arranged under "B" instead of "T". Occasionally different tracks from the same album can have different values in these sort fields which can also break up the grouping. Making the sort columns visible in iTunes can help with spotting & correcting such problems.
*One cover for multi-disc album*
Multi-disc albums are often listed as *Album (CD1)* for CD 1, *Album (CD2)* for CD 2 etc. To display these properly using just one cover, each disc should have the correct *Disc X of Y* values set, and then the entire album should be given the single title Album. Being somewhat obsessive I also renumber the tracks sequentially, working backwards from the last track (so that no two tracks ever have the same number) until I reach disc 1. BTW You can still give the individual discs different artwork should it be relevant so that the correct artwork will be displayed as the album progresses.
*One artist, many names*
With some artists, particularly classical composers, you should be aware of alternative representations of their names. E.g. 2Pac vs. Tupac. The menus will work best if for each artist you standardise on just one form of their name. E.g. make a choice between Mozart, W.A. Mozart or Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and then apply it consistently. For classical music I tend also to use the Composer as the Artist & Album Artist and either discard the performer details or place these into the Comments field.
Wow, this is a really useful post...
But *** was Apple thinking when they implemented the iPod behaviour? Right now I'm battling with the "One cover, too many tracks"... Why would the group all those tracks together? As I see it, that's exactly what the "Compilation" tag is for... so without the tag, it should not screw this up...
Oh, and while this has not happened to me much yet, the fact that "Album Artist" is ignored is almost as annoying... sigh this seems like another one of those fine examples of "We are Apple, we don't need to think things through, it's enough to stick our name on it"...