Discussion:
Best way to tag music collection
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OhPinchy
2008-07-09 23:05:27 UTC
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It seems that some of my music collection is incorrectly tagged as
there's lots of music not showing up on my Squeezebox Duet (I'm running
SqueezeCenter 7.0 I think on a Windows Home Server).

Some of my files are badly named as they are just named '01.mp3' etc so
the only way of identifying them is by looking at the name of the folder
they are in, and others have the track number, artist, and track name in
the filename. Others seem to be correctly tagged when I look at them in
Windows Explorer but don't show up in Squeezecenter (and iTunes for
some).

Basically, I'm a complete noob at music collection management so don't
know the basics - what's the best approach for managing tags? Is there
a program out there that I should use and may automate the tagging? I'd
happily pay a few quid for a decent program that did a good job of
tagging and saved time. Thanks.
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radish
2008-07-10 01:21:10 UTC
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There's some info and tool recommendations on the wiki:
http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.php/BeginnersGuideToTagging.
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Nonreality
2008-07-10 02:15:54 UTC
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In most programs if you know at least the artist name and the album name
you can tag them. The only caveat is that you need to learn the program
a bit and you need to spend the time. Nothing is going to do it for
you. Two good ways of getting your music tagged are mediamonkey and
mp3tag. They are not the only ways just a couple that I know will do
the job. But like I said they won't do it for you, you'll have to
spend some time and understand how they do it. Both are free for what
you want to do so thats a plus.
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maggior
2008-07-10 03:50:31 UTC
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The key to proper tagging is consistency, which is exactly what you are
lacking right now. :-).

I find it useful to have all of the tag information present in the file
name and path. This way you can use a simple file system browser to
navigate your collection. It also make changing tags quite easy. The
converse is true too - you can easily change file names/directory names
based on tag updates.

I use a format that looks like this:
genre/artist/(year)album/tracknumber trackname.mp3 (or .flac).

I've had situations where I needed to change the genre of an album. I
simply move the directory to the appropriate location and regenerate
the tags (I use foobar2000 to tag).

If you acquire files from a source other than your personal rips
(online purchases is a good example), step number one should be to add
it to your library in the format that you are following and tag it
accordingly. Don't be afraid to rename and retag files you purchase.
Do this as you acquire them an you'll save yourself a headache of
having to edit huge pile of files at once.

Everybody has their own personal way of dealing with tagging - you just
need to figure out what works best for you. Look at what others do
through reading the wiki and looking through the forums. There is an
entire forum here dedicated to ripping and tagging. It makes for
interesting reading.

Happy tagging!
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Khuli
2008-07-10 10:15:29 UTC
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I use the format /artist/album/<trackno>-<title>-<artist>-<album>.mp3

Having those fields in the filename really helps if you find yourself
copying individual files to an iPod or similar.

I don't file under genre, as many of my albums have more than one genre
associated with them.
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Nonreality
2008-07-11 07:46:05 UTC
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Post by Khuli
I use the format /artist/album/<trackno>-<title>-<artist>-<album>.mp3
Having those fields in the filename really helps if you find yourself
copying individual files to an iPod or similar.
I don't file under genre, as many of my albums have more than one genre
associated with them.
Yes quite the same as mine but I don't use the artist in the file name
as I already have it in the tags and the directory name. I'm not sure
why you would need anything other than artist/album/track# - title but
I know that everyone does it their own way. The real key is to get some
kind of structure that you like and can keep up on it in an easy way.
Also keep your tags to reflect your structure, that way you can
automate it all.
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Khuli
2008-07-11 14:20:54 UTC
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I'm not sure why you would need anything other than artist/album/track#
- title.
You don't actually *need* the extra info, but 2 reasons why I do it
are:

1. Sometimes you don't get tag info when you rip a cd
(rare/old/obscure) so it's easy to create the tags from the filename.
2. If you copy individual tracks to a portable mp3 player, it's useful
to know what track is what (they don't all read tags)
3. It's now my convention to do it that way ;)
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SumnerBoy
2008-07-11 11:16:36 UTC
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Post by Khuli
I don't file under genre, as many of my albums have more than one genre
associated with them.
How do you associate more than one genre with a single album? Comma
separated list? If so, does SC read that as a list of genres when
adding to the library/searching?

I.e. if I add Bruce Springsteen\Magic with a genre of 'Classic
Rock,Rock' will it show up under both Classic Rock and Rock when
searching by genre?
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amcluesent
2008-07-11 12:45:33 UTC
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IIRC the default separator is ';' not a comma, but you can change this
is the SqueezeCentre options. I prefer pipe '|'.
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Khuli
2008-07-11 14:27:08 UTC
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Post by SumnerBoy
I.e. if I add Bruce Springsteen\Magic with a genre of 'Classic
Rock,Rock' will it show up under both Classic Rock and Rock when
searching by genre?
Yes it does. I also use 'Live' for live albums (obviously), so
occasionally I have 3 eg Rock;Progressive Rock;Live
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OhPinchy
2008-07-11 18:32:38 UTC
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Thanks for all the advice folks. I've read that Wiki guide and installed
foobar2000, but I would still like to get my head full around the
concept of how tagging works before going any further.

My collection is a mish mash of tunes first started over 7 years ago so
have been formatted for a variety of different players and styles and so
are pretty much all over the place in both folder structure and tag
details and filenames.

A lot of the discussion here is around filename, not tags set in a
program like foobar2000, is that because the program can create the
tags if the filename is formatted in a certain way? Or do I need to do
both - i.e. format folder and filename correctly and also format the
tags correctly?

I like the format artist/(year)album/tracknumber trackname.mp3 but
naturally want to be able to browse in Squeezecenter by album, artist,
trackname etc.

What does foobar2000 and similar apps actually do - does it just show
the tags it has read from the files imported and you have to manually
change these or does it automatically generate tags?

If I change the name of say the Artist tag in foobar2000, will that do
anything to the actual filename or does it just affect the embedded
tag? If it doesn't change the filename does that mean I have to
manually maintain both the filename and the tag details?

Sorry for the many questions, but once I know these basics I'll be much
better equipped to figure the rest out and understand the context of
threads I see on here about managing tags for compilations etc. so
thanks for any help.
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amcluesent
2008-07-11 20:35:59 UTC
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IMHO, for sorting out tagging you'd be better with mp3tag rather than
foobar2000 - it's use is described in the wiki -
http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.php/Mp3tagGuide

mp3tag can rename files based on tags, and conversely set an inital set
of tags by reading parts of the filename. But you have manual control
over either.

SqueezeCentre likes to have all the tags set properly. If there aren't
it'll try to guess from the filname, but that's second best.
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Mark Lanctot
2008-07-11 20:50:41 UTC
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Post by OhPinchy
A lot of the discussion here is around filename, not tags set in a
program like foobar2000, is that because the program can create the
tags if the filename is formatted in a certain way? Or do I need to do
both - i.e. format folder and filename correctly and also format the
tags correctly?
If you have good filenames any decent tagger can create good tags and
vice-versa.
Post by OhPinchy
What does foobar2000 and similar apps actually do - does it just show
the tags it has read from the files imported and you have to manually
change these or does it automatically generate tags?
It shows what's there and allows you to modify it. Automatically
generated tags are another matter, often done by another program.
Post by OhPinchy
If I change the name of say the Artist tag in foobar2000, will that do
anything to the actual filename or does it just affect the embedded
tag?
No, it alters the tag, not the filename.
Post by OhPinchy
If it doesn't change the filename does that mean I have to manually
maintain both the filename and the tag details?
As I indicated above, you can derive filename from tags and vice-versa,
so once you get your tags right you can get the program to rename your
files for you. Conversely, if your filenames are good, get the program
to use them to create your tags.
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OhPinchy
2008-09-01 01:59:09 UTC
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Due to surgery I didn't get a chance to work on the tagging of my music
when I posted this thread. All is well now and I have time to work on
this and I've spent a lot of time reading up on here but I'm close to
despair as it just seems way more complicated than it should be and
it's very time consuming trying to piece all the bits of information
together.

I've installed MP3Tag and followed the guide on here and I can now
manage to edit the tag values and then generate updated
filenames/folders based on those.

But I'm not sure I understand what's going on with Extended tags in
MP3Tag. It shows a standard list of columns but it seems you can add
extended tags and give them your own name, and then select a Value
and/or a Field. What's the relationship between Value and Field and the
Name you provide and how will Squeezecenter treat it?

I find the Tag Panel on the left useful for bulk updates but am
confused about how to add an extended tag to it it as it seems you give
it a name and then select from the drop-down (what happens if there's a
difference?).

I guess organising my collection along the lines of
/artist/album/<trackno>-<title>-<artist>-<album>.mp3 would be fine, but
then it seems Disc Number throws a spanner amongst the works - how
should I both set the Disc Number value and add to the filename?

I regard the artist as the main artist on the album and am not
interested in seeing guest artists. So I figure I need an AlbumArtist
tag and this should mostly be the same as Artist, except where Artist
is the guest. But do I just create my own extended tag, name it
AlbumArtist and then have to set it manually instead of just modifying
from a copy of Artist where necessary?

It also seems I need a Compilation tag, but I'm still not sure what to
do with Various Artist albums. I figure 'Various Artists' should be the
AlbumArtist and the Artist tag for each track should be the artist for
that track. But again, how to do this is confusing me.

Really appreciate any help as I've made an effort to figure this out
but think there's a few things I'm not doing right with my test tracks
and I want to make sure I'm doing things right before trying to work on
my thousands of tracks. Thanks!
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gusi
2008-09-01 06:55:06 UTC
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I have organised my albums genre\artist\album CD#\track. Where the CD#
is optional.

I have kept the genre into just a few broad categories. Instead of
tagging I just use browse by folder to navigate. It is so much easier
and much less painful than tagging.

When the record companies provide full tags online including all the
artists on each track etc. I'll have another look at tagging.
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OhPinchy
2008-09-01 10:34:03 UTC
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Thanks gusi. I prefer browsing by folder on my HTPC in Windows Media
Center but the folder option is very slow on my Squeezebox Duet so I'd
prefer to use tags or at least have them as an option.

I guess my main question boils down to how to correctly add the
AlbumArtist, Compilation, and DISCNUMBER tags in MP3Tag and how to
populate them - can they be auto-populated and just overwritten where
necessary or do I need to do it all from scratch?
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gusi
2008-09-04 07:25:29 UTC
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Post by OhPinchy
Thanks gusi. I prefer browsing by folder on my HTPC in Windows Media
Center but the folder option is very slow on my Squeezebox Duet so I'd
prefer to use tags or at least have them as an option.
I guess my main question boils down to how to correctly add the
AlbumArtist, Compilation, and DISCNUMBER tags in MP3Tag and how to
populate them - can they be auto-populated and just overwritten where
necessary or do I need to do it all from scratch?
That is a worry. I was thinking about switching to a duet at some
point. I am using SB3's at the moment.

I used Tag&Rename when I did tag. I just added a CD number to the album
name when multiple CDs are involved. eg Santana\Moonflower CD1\1 ...
Alternatively you could ignore the CD and just increment the track
numbers across a multiple CD album.

AFAIK all tagging tools get all the meta data from file and directory
names. In database design that is a bit of a no-no but nobody has of a
better way to do it.
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Nonreality
2008-09-04 08:57:15 UTC
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Post by OhPinchy
Thanks gusi. I prefer browsing by folder on my HTPC in Windows Media
Center but the folder option is very slow on my Squeezebox Duet so I'd
prefer to use tags or at least have them as an option.
I guess my main question boils down to how to correctly add the
AlbumArtist, Compilation, and DISCNUMBER tags in MP3Tag and how to
populate them - can they be auto-populated and just overwritten where
necessary or do I need to do it all from scratch?
You just add those in the extended tags screen. Then if you want you
can add that to the front tag panel.
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egd
2008-09-04 12:28:15 UTC
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Post by OhPinchy
I guess my main question boils down to how to correctly add the
AlbumArtist, Compilation, and DISCNUMBER tags in MP3Tag and how to
populate them - can they be auto-populated and just overwritten where
necessary or do I need to do it all from scratch? If oyu already have a correct artist tag, the actions I posted will
take care of COMPILATION and ALBUMARTIST for you. I never bother with
disc #, I just number all tracks consecutively.
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Nonreality
2008-09-05 19:28:00 UTC
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Post by gusi
I have organised my albums genre\artist\album CD#\track. Where the CD#
is optional.
I have kept the genre into just a few broad categories. Instead of
tagging I just use browse by folder to navigate. It is so much easier
and much less painful than tagging.
When the record companies provide full tags online including all the
artists on each track etc. I'll have another look at tagging.I always liked that way too but it will not let you take advantage of
many programs including Squeezecenter. You can't use musicip and can't
use advance sorting methods without tags. You are much better with tags
if you are using any of the Squeeze products.
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