3817 Views 1 Reply Latest reply: Jan 6, 2010 5:05 PM by turingtest2
*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 or put the tracks in their normal order. The most useful order for editing the library is probably the *List View* organised as *Album by Artist*. If you're not already there, select the list view and click on the column heading for Album until it reads Album by Artist. If the items you're trying to gather together are still scatted through the library use the options in the *Search Box* to narrow down the results until you can see the items you need to edit. You can also use the *Browser Pane* (View > Show Column Browser & View > Column Browser submenu) to display lists of Artists, Albums, Genres etc. Selecting one or more items in these columns will focus the track listing on matching items.
*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. See below how selecting either of two distinct albums with the same title gives a track listing which is a combination of both albums 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.
*Missing Artist or 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. It also seems that the iTunes Store may mark an album as a compilation in order to keep it grouped when there are tracks with guest or featured artists. 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 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 then set *Part of a compilation* to No.
*One album, too many covers*
For true compilations, where each track is by a different artist, the answer is to set *Part of a compilation* to Yes and enable the iTunes preference to *Group compilations when browsing*. If the album is not a compilation however, any tracks which list guest artists may be treated as separate items. Filling in the Album Artist field is enough to link things in iTunes. Sadly, however, most iPod models ignore the Album Artist field when grouping albums so this is only a partial solution. You can simply mark the entire album as a compilation which seems to be the way iTunes often 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 that this is information about the track as distinct from parentheses in the song title and also use this style for Mix/Live/Bonus info.
Since firmware version 3.x the iPhone & iPod Touch do in fact use the Album Artist field & have stopped grouping on the part of a compilation setting, however setting both *Part of a compilation* to Yes and the *Album Artist* to *Various Artists* will group compilation albums both in iTunes and whichever type of iPod/iPhone you happen to be using.
*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 articles (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. You can still give tracks from the individual discs different artwork should it be relevant so that the correct artwork will be displayed as the album progresses.
*Tracks out of sequence*
Check that all tracks have the same/correct disc no. For a single disc album this should be either blank (my preference) or 1 of 1. iTunes will sort tracks with a disc no. of 1 before those that are blank. Just for fun the iPod sorts them the other way around so an album that is correct in iTunes may be out of sequence on an iPod or vice-versa. In addition ensure that the Artist, Album Artist, Album, Sort Artist, Sort Album Artist & Sort Album fields are consistent across all tracks.
*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. In some cases the Sort Artist/Sort Album Artist fields can group alternate forms in iTunes but these will break up again on the iPod. It is best therefore to use Artist & Album Artist consistently so the name is shown the way that you want and Sort Artist & Sort Album Artist to control where it is displayed.