Help me organize my iTunes when it comes to compilations
March 9, 2004 4:58 AM   Subscribe

What to do about the compilations? I've recently started using iTunes for my mp3-listening activities, and finally have a use for metadata tags other than Artist/Song/Album (dynamic playlists make my socks roll up and down, up and down). But how to deal with greatest-hits collections and other compilations, where the album-release date has nothing to do with when the song came out? Do people (that is, you) actually look up the year for each song? If so, where? If not, what do you do?
posted by gleuschk to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
I had this problem for a while, and then I just deleted all my compilations. Now, if I want a track, I'll grab the album.

A bit drastic, perhaps, but it works for me. I don't use iTunes, mind you, but I don't think that matters too much.
posted by Jairus at 5:11 AM on March 9, 2004

Me, I don't bother. If it's from a comp, I'm usually pretty sure of the where/when...that's what comps are for, right?
posted by black8 at 8:03 AM on March 9, 2004

I re-tag songs from compilations with their original release date whenever I can.

There's no easy solution, though a good compilation will have the information in the liner notes (you *are* ripping these tunes from CDs you own, right???). Otherwise, a quick google on artist, songname and discography will often yield the answer in the first link or two.

On preview: black8 I do this for the smart playlists that are keyed to release year. And I'm an anal completist.

posted by baltimore at 8:05 AM on March 9, 2004

I try to have good data hygiene in iTunes, but I haven't gotten down to that level of nitty-gritty.

I assume you've noticed the "compilation" checkbox (not that this solves your problem).

You might be interested in music brainz as a source for track info. It's a volunteer effort, but it tries to be very complete.
posted by adamrice at 8:09 AM on March 9, 2004

I use All Music Guide when organizing my MP3 library. It even has the album art!
posted by mnology at 8:15 AM on March 9, 2004

SideMe: if it's digital artwork you're interested in, I've found that has the best-resolution CD-cover art (for anything in their inventory)
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:58 AM on March 9, 2004

It's got some fairly crappy things about it (like buggy and slow iPod support), but MusicMatch Jukebox has a "Lookup Tags" feature that does a decent job of automatically retagging with the original album name and year. It looks the tags up in their own database, based on the file name.
posted by fuzz at 8:58 AM on March 9, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks, all.

(you *are* ripping these tunes from CDs you own, right???)

Yes. Or rather, I ripped them two years ago from a bunch of CDs that now live in a dozen boxes in a storage facility a thousand miles away. Liner notes are great, but inaccessible at the moment. Also, I'm talking about over 20 gigs of music here (not all compilations, obviously, but comps were obvious choices when I was ripping all those discs that are now in storage, so they're a goodly percentage) -- googling all the artists is going to get tired very quickly.

I assume you've noticed the "compilation" checkbox (not that this solves your problem).

Hm, no, I hadn't. Have to look into that.

And yes, I'm actually switching from MusicMatch -- the spankerrificness ot the smart playlists finally tipped me over the edge. I did love the Tag Lookup facility, and I still hold out hope that some interaction between iTunes and the Apple Music Store (API? RSS? tin can and string? anybody?) could replace it. Though the "drag cover art here" thing in iTunes is sheer genius.
posted by gleuschk at 9:18 AM on March 9, 2004

Not sure if this is what you're asking, but: MusicBrainz Tagger will automatically fix your tags for you, including song, album, year, etc., from their user-contributed, public and free database. It usually picks up about 70% right off the bat, and the rest you have to tweak by hand, but it's still a fairly painless process. I use it for all my mp3s.
posted by signal at 12:04 PM on March 9, 2004

Mildly off-topic, are all those horror stories about I-tunes murdering PCs true?
posted by signal at 12:04 PM on March 9, 2004

Response by poster: Mildly off-topic, are all those horror stories about I-tunes murdering PCs true?

Not as far as I can tell so far. As I recall, the very first version did some awful things like move every single music file on your machine into some random new directory. When I installed 4.2, it asked politely whether I wanted it to do such stupid things, and I politely declined. When I was playing around with all the menu options, I clicked "Consolidate" (or something like that) and it said "this will do that stupid thing you said you didn't want!" and I was all, "Dude! Don't do it, then!" and it was all, "No prob."
posted by gleuschk at 12:22 PM on March 9, 2004

I just resigned to the fact that any song on a compilation album was going to be listed with the year that the compilation came out. I tried doing what others have stated... labeling with the year of the original release. But man... on some of these old jazz and blues compilations, it's darn near impossible to find the EXACT year it was first released (without ripping your hair out).

I have sooo many MP3s that if a handful of tracks don't make it on to a smart playlist or two, I'll survive. If a track that SHOULD show up on my hypothetical 60's playlist doesn't, I'm sure it will be there in the Classic Rock playlist, for example. Good enough.

I'm as anal as the next person about this kind of stuff. But even I have to draw the line somewhere.
posted by Witty at 3:10 PM on March 9, 2004

Response by poster: Fair enough. I hate when I advertise my OCD like this.
posted by gleuschk at 8:11 AM on March 10, 2004

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