13 Replies Latest reply: Jul 29, 2011 10:57 PM by stimpy77
macorin Level 1 Level 1 (30 points)
What is the difference between Artist and Album Artist? The only things I can think of is if someone is playing a cover, or if it is a classical album where the artist and composer might differ. Is this correct? Any other thoughts on the differentiation between these two labels? I'm trying to organize my iTunes Library, and organizing by artist with Classical genre is a bit annoying when the artist is a bunch of random musicians. I would much prefer to organize by composer (which I am also calling the album artist, since I don't organize rock by composer).

Also, will iPods/iPhones pick up the album artist for organizational purposes? Or will it only recognize artist?

Macbook Pro 17", Mac OS X (10.6.4), 2.93 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4 GB 1067 MHz DDR3
  • turingtest2 Level 9 Level 9 (58,430 points)
    In the normal course of events an "Album Artist" releases an album, but individual tracks on the album may have different performers or "Artists". Because of the way iTunes organises albums guest or featured artists may cause the album to split up unless "glued" back together with the Album Artist. However the Album Artist field is not universally supported on iPods so other workarounds may still be required. The best approach for guest & featured artists is to put this data into the track name and make the Artist & Album Artist consistent across the tracks.

    As for classical music I'd suggest using the composer as the Artist & Album Artist if the composer is primary artist of interest, otherwise use the performer. Comments can be used to store any other relevant values that are omited from the artist & album artist fields.

    See http://samsoft.org.uk/iTunes/grouping.asp for tips on organising things neatly within iTunes.

    tt2
  • macorin Level 1 Level 1 (30 points)
    tt2,

    Thanks. Extremely helpful post and link. I've got a bit of work ahead of me, but it will be well worth it. Btw, I can pretty much understand the comments field, but what are the Category, Description and Grouping fields used for? I know there is no right answer for this, but are there relevant (or at least more relevant) bits of data to put into those fields, rather than just random data?

    Mac
  • macorin Level 1 Level 1 (30 points)
    I've hit a little snag in working with some of my classical albums. For example, some of these albums are compilations with not only different composers (which I am using as my artist and album artist), but also different performers (which I have listed in the Comments field). The problem I am experiencing is that the tracks are showing up out of order. I cannot figure out a way to get them back into order, nor a workaround to ensure that they will show up in order. Based on your article in the link you sent me, I cannot do what you mentioned for this particular problem. I cannot make sure that the Artist, Album Artist, Album, Sort Artist, Sort Album Artist & Sort Album fields are consistent across all tracks. In a case like this, they are different and have to be kept different.

    Also, in this case, the sort album is changeable, but not deletable. It shows up as "grayed out" in the column view. As I said, I can change it to something else, but not get rid of it completely. I'm not sure if this has anything to do with anything, but thought I would mention.

    Do you know a workaround for the issue that I am describing?
  • macorin Level 1 Level 1 (30 points)
    I might have just answered my own question, although I don't know if this is proper, and/or going to cause other problems. I simply deleted the album artist field for this type of album, leaving the artist field intact with the Composer name and this solved the ordering issue I was describing above.

    I really think this issue is something specific to Classical albums. You wouldn't have this problem in other genres, unless it was a true "mix" type compilation where a bunch of different artists got together for one album, each recording their own song tracks on the album. This usually isn't the case though, whereas it is in the type of classical album that I was describing.

    Any thoughts on this specific type of event?

    Mac
  • turingtest2 Level 9 Level 9 (58,430 points)
    Category & description are podcast fields that cannot be edited with the iTunes *Get Info*. tag dialog.

    The Grouping field ties up with a field labeled Mood or Sub-genre in other media players. In the iTunes store it used to be used to links the movements of a work together but I don't think that is used any more, and besides, the iTunes player doesn't really work with either. Various support documents talk of being able to shuffle "groupings", i.e. a set of tracks with a common value in this field, but I've never seen that work either. I use the grouping field to store "tags" I want to give the tracks. In my case it is which members of my family want each particular track, and these values then go on to be used in a set of smart playlists. You can use it any way you see fit.

    If your album has pieces by a number of classical composeres then it is a compilation. Select all tracks, get info. on the Info tab set *Album Artist* as *Various Artists* and on the options tab set *Part of a compilation* to Yes. You can set the Artist field as the Composer for each track and either ignore the performwe details or enter these in the comments.

    iTunes auto-populates the Sort field if the value contains a leading article (a/an/the) in which case the Sort field is normally displayed in the light grey which typically indicates an uneditable value. You should still be able to edit unless the file itself is locked. Typical uses of the the field would be to change the Sort Artist/Album Artist/Composer to *Bach, J.S.* instead of *J.S. Bach* to have his entries sorted under B instead of J. To override the default behaviour, e.g. if you want "The Four Seasons" sorted under T instead of F then simply type the full original text into the sort field.

    tt2
  • macorin Level 1 Level 1 (30 points)
    Yeah, I see what you mean with the sort field. What is the purpose of "Album Artist" again? Is it really necessary to fill all Album Artist fields? I'm sure there is a reason, but I'm just not sure what it is. It seems fairly straight forward with anything other than Classical. What does adding "Various Artists" to that field accomplish in terms of helping to keep things organized, versus leaving the field blank?
  • macorin Level 1 Level 1 (30 points)
    tt2,

    What do you do for soundtracks? Do you treat soundtracks differently? Do you treat them as compilations?
  • turingtest2 Level 9 Level 9 (58,430 points)
    macorin wrote:
    Yeah, I see what you mean with the sort field. What is the purpose of "Album Artist" again? Is it really necessary to fill all Album Artist fields? I'm sure there is a reason, but I'm just not sure what it is.

    You don't have to fill them all in, at least not if the Artist value is the same for each track, though personally I think it's neater if you do. In fact in my view it almost goes the other way around. The album artist ought to be filled in for every album, and you could assume the track artist was the same unless told differently. But the iPod won't work like that so I find it best to complete them all.
    It seems fairly straight forward with anything other than Classical. What does adding "Various Artists" to that field accomplish in terms of helping to keep things organized, versus leaving the field blank?

    Without something in the Album Artist field, or the part of a compilation field set and the Group Compilations option turned on, the album will break up into separate groups. Older iPods only support the compilation field, the iPhone & iPod Touch only work with Album Artist. So I complete all the fields accordingly.
    What do you do for soundtracks? Do you treat soundtracks differently? Do you treat them as compilations?

    Generaly I treat soundtracks as compilations but Blade Runner by Vangelis is an obvious exception that comes to mind. For the Album Artist field I might use Original Cast or Broadway Cast/London Cast instead of using Various Artists and I might put down the character names/ensemble instead of the performer names. In the end it is down to personal preference.

    tt2
  • macorin Level 1 Level 1 (30 points)
    tt2,

    This is great stuff, which is truly appreciated. While we're at it, I thought I might get your insight into Genres. I have always found it nearly impossible to neatly group rock songs as a genre. There are so many variations regarding style, etc. I have been back and forth doing it one way, changing it, changing it back, changing it again, etc, etc.

    I don't think there is an easy solution to this "problem". Some songs are very easy to group as "Alternative" or "Country", or "Pop", etc... However, others really don't seem to fit into anything specific, yet leaving them as just, "Rock" really doesn't do it justice either.

    Ideally, you want a system which groups your music of similar style together. This is a very difficult task, but any insights you might have would be greatly appreciated.

    I have thought of using "Rock" as the genre for all songs that seem like "Rock" songs, and then further classifying them using the "Grouping" field. This works to a certain degree, but doesn't really separate things on the iPod, deeming it all Rock.

    On the other hand, by cleverly using the "Grouping" field, you could break down a bunch a "rock" smart playlists based on the grouping info associated with each song.

    This works to a certain degree, but is still very difficult, as songs have such subtle variation. So, in your opinion, is it best to utilize the "Genre" field, or is it best to forget it, giving songs a generalized genre grouping and then using the "Grouping" field to further organize?

    Thanks,

    Mac
  • rockmyplimsoul Level 5 Level 5 (6,245 points)
    macorin wrote:
    So, in your opinion, is it best to utilize the "Genre" field, or is it best to forget it, giving songs a generalized genre grouping and then using the "Grouping" field to further organize?


    My $.02 ...

    I use the Genre field as the general categorization and put sub-genres in the Comments field, then use smart playlists to pick up certain sub-genres.

    For example, for Santana's debut album I would use "Rock" as the Genre but put "Classic Rock" in the Comments. For Santana's "Love, Devotion, and Surrender" album I'd use Jazz as the Genre but put "Jazz Fusion" in the Comments. This way, if I want a playlist of Classic Rock from the 60s I can use the Comments and Year fields to isolate Santana's debut album with other music of the same type and era (though there was no one like Carlos at that time!) Or, be able to separate Jazz Fusion from other types of Jazz.

    While you could accomplish this with the Genre field, it can get messy if you have multiple classifications, sometimes even for the same song. Using sub-genres becomes very important when your collection spans multiple styles, and artists who have a variety of styles within their releases. The Comments field is ideal for this since it is larger than others and lets you get very creative, such as adding multiple qualifiers to group music together.
  • turingtest2 Level 9 Level 9 (58,430 points)
    Yep this just about covers it, though the one advantage that the grouping field has is this respect is that you set it as one of the browser panes so it really can act as a sub-genre field. FWIW I think you'll find iTunes limits both grouping and comments are limited to 255 characters but obviously iTunes can display more of the comments field when viewing info.

    tt2
  • macorin Level 1 Level 1 (30 points)
    tt2,

    It is handy to be able to use the "Grouping" field as a sub-genre field in the browser pane, but I think it should be noted that doing so is somewhat limiting. For example, certain songs might have multiple "tags" or sub-genres. If you are using the "Grouping" field to list all of these tags, you are going to end up with imperfect sub-genre lists.

    A perfect example of this is that certain songs might be considered straight alternative. However, others might be considered alternative pop, and yet others you might call alternative metal, or hard rock. If you are labeling all of the sub-classes in the "Grouping" field, you are going to quickly notice that you don't have a true category for Alternative Rock, but rather, many sub-categories that don't all fit into the same grouping. Your Grouping list in the browser pane might read, "Alternative", "Alternative, Pop", "Classic Rock", "Classic Rock, Folk", "Classic Rock, Hard", "Classic Rock, Pop", etc, etc.

    This being a limiting factor, I still think it makes sense to use the "Grouping" field as much as you possibly can. I still think that in order to have full lists of songs that you want to classify as say, "Alternative", you have to create smart playlists. I still think it makes sense to use the "Grouping field in the way that you describe, and that you should keep other data in the "Comments" field, but it is not a perfect solution.

    I don't really think that there is a perfect solution when it comes to organizing music by genre. A lot of it is really left up to interpretation anyway. I think we are all probably a little too anal (not that there is anything wrong with that) when it comes to this type of stuff, and that we are all looking for (not the perfect solution), but the best solution to meet our individual needs.

    You have added a ton of great insights with your posts, and I thank you for sharing that sir.

    Mac

    Message was edited by: macorin
  • stimpy77 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Did this change in a recent version of iTunes? I have a compilation album in which Artist was populated with each song's artist and Album Artist was blank, and upon populating Album Artist on all songs to "Various Artists" and setting their "part of a compilation" flag to Yes, iTunes is still grouping this album by Artist and not Album Artist so the album is split up into 20 different groupings when viewing by grid. Did Apple decided to change the sort column to base it on Artist instead of Album Artist? I can't select Album Artist in the Sort context menu, either.

     

    EDIT: Scratch this. I was seeing another, similar album in the Grid view that was not updated in the same way.

     

    Message was edited by: stimpy77