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May 29, 2014 8:59 AM   Subscribe

What is the best way to make a mix and have it appear as an album in iTunes?

Please assume I do not want to use the playlists feature, but rather that I want to make a digital "mix tape" with its own title and artwork (EastCoast/WestCoast Beef BBQ is the working title). Ideally, I'd like to throw a bunch of tracks into "something", and then be able to drag-and-drop to rearrange them into a chosen track order. I'd like to then add the album to iTunes and have it show up the same way "A Very Special Christmas" or "This Is Music 2003" would.

Is there freeware or a webapp or some unknownst-to-me iTunes feature that can be used to do this?
posted by joelhunt to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You could do this simply by editing the info on the tracks that are already in iTunes (copy them first if you don't want to mess up the original files). Put the files you want to use in a playlist temporarily, select them all, right click and choose 'Get Info' and click to the 'Info' tab. Update the Album name, set the compilation clicky box. Click to 'Artwork' tab to upload the album art that you created. Then go through each song in turn and set the 'Track X of Y' info.

If you burn a mix CD that someone sends you, you have to add most of this information manually anyway, because random mix CDs don't appear in the databases that iTunes searches for track info.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:14 AM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

You could do this with an ID3 tag editor. Here's a list of them from LifeHacker. You'd have to gather your tracks into a folder on your desktop or something, then use the tag editor to add custom artwork and change the album name and track listing and all that. (I'm not sure about Windows but on OS X at least you can just drag the track out of iTunes to copy it somewhere else.) Then, when you drop them back into iTunes, it should read the new ID3 tags and act accordingly. If this is going to include purchased-from-iTunes music, you may have to right-click on the track and tell iTunes to create a regular MP3/AAC/lossless version first.

You can also create a playlist and then burn said playlist to disc, then re-import it as a new CD (it shouldn't find a match for an existing CD in there). You'll then have to track it down and edit the tracks in iTunes. This is kinda wasteful though unless you happen to have some CD-RW discs. (I'd thought you could maybe just pull the song out of iTunes, then drag it back in, but for whatever reason that doesn't work..)
posted by mrg at 9:15 AM on May 29, 2014

one thing to note about just straight up editing the song info in iTunes: you can't have multiple copies of data for a single song, so if you want to keep it where it was, that won't work. If you edit song X that was on album Y to now be on album Z, it won't be in album Y anymore.
posted by mrg at 9:19 AM on May 29, 2014

To dovetail on what jacquilynne wrote above, you may also need to flag the tracks as a "compilation" in order to have the album appear as a whole (otherwise, depending on your iTunes viewing preferences, the tracks will still be scattered by artist). You'd want to update the album info so that all tracks have the same album name, flag them as a compilation, and edit the album artist field to "Various" (leaving the main artist field as the original artist). The album will appear under "compilations" in the iTunes browser.

Making copies of the tracks is important, because iTunes doesn't let you associate one track with multiple albums. So you will end up with duplicate tracks in your library with this solution.

Really, I think editing a playlist is probably the easiest way to go, if you're willing to forgo the album art issue.
posted by AndrewInDC at 9:20 AM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ugh. I guess there is no way around the clunky Edit Info interface? The main thing I would like is to be able to drag-and-drop to rearrange the track order visually. This is going to be an EPIC mix, and it looks like I'm going to have to use a pen-and-paper like in Olden Tymes to set the track listing.
posted by joelhunt at 9:35 AM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

The drag and drop is why I suggested using a temporary playlist. In the playlist, you can drag and drop things in the order you want them in. You'll have to set the X of Y information manually once you've done that, but if you put them in order first, it's a matter of jumping through each item on the playlist using the 'next' button and incrementing the X by one each time.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:01 AM on May 29, 2014

Thanks, jacquilynne! The drag-and-dropiness of playlists wasn't something i was aware of. This should work. Now to google image search some cover art!!!
posted by joelhunt at 10:05 AM on May 29, 2014

AndrewInDC: edit the album artist field to "Various" (leaving the main artist field as the original artist)

Just wanted to emphasize that this is crucial if you ever want to listen to the compilation on an iOS device. For some reason, Album Artist is of major importance to iOS.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:28 AM on May 29, 2014

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