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Sorting confusion if different artists with same album title


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Hello guys,

I am not fully sure if it is a bug or a setting that is not correct but here is the thing:

I have in my collection many albums from different artists called "Single" as they are singles...

When I go into Collection / Genre / Blues rock (for example but it is the same whatever the genre I choose), I have the first line with "All songs of the genre" followed by all album covers of that genre (see Image 1). Then if I go to the album "Single" of the first artist (see Image 2), first the cover is not correct but clicking on that album, it displays all the songs of that genre with the album title "Single" which is a bug because it is supposed to be only the titles of that first artist (see Image 3).

So, what is wrong??

Thank you for your help!!

Image 1.jpg

Image 2.jpg

Image 3.jpg

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Have you included an AlbumArtist in the tagging of these tracks? It is the unique combination of the two fields Album and AlbumArtist that separates them in the digital world. It is a common issue with album names like "Greatest Hits" where there are thousands of different albums with this name. But only one (usually) that would be "Greatest Hits + The Beatles" for example.

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It does sound like your tagging could be askew. I just created some test songs with the exact same album name, "Greatest Hits", and with the Artist and the Album Artist tags set correctly to each artist's name, and it worked fine. I saw three different "Greatest Hits" albums in the Genre category "Rock", each by a different artist. 

Andre

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Thank you both of you for your help.

Unfortunately, my tags seem ok (see Image 4 where I have checked the metadata for the three titles that are displayed in the list but shouldn't).

I had a doubt because of the confusion possible between ID3v1 and ID3v2 but long time ago I have erased all v1 from my library and it is well the case for those tracks.

So, that is strange...

Note that I never use Album Artist but only Artist.

Image4.jpg

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1 hour ago, Arkats said:

Note that I never use Album Artist but only Artis

This is the cause of the issue you described. See my previous post about how the Album and Albumartist tags are required to create a unique combination for Poweramp (and most other premium players).

11 hours ago, MotleyG said:

Have you included an AlbumArtist in the tagging of these tracks? It is the unique combination of the two fields Album and AlbumArtist that separates them in the digital world. It is a common issue with album names like "Greatest Hits" where there are thousands of different albums with this name. But only one (usually) that would be "Greatest Hits + The Beatles" for example.

If you don't have an Albumartist tag, all albums with the same name will be combined. 

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Thank you MotleyG.

Sorry to have missed the nuance... but why Artist alone is not enough? Especially if Album Artist is empty?

Because it is exactly as you said before "Greatest Hits" + "The Beatles" . Why should I have twice "The Beatles" in Artist + in Album Artist for the sorting working properly?

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46 minutes ago, Arkats said:

but why Artist alone is not enough? Especially if Album Artist is empty?

The Artist field only shows the performer for that specific song. And this is used by most players on the "Now Playing" screen.

On a compilation album, there could be many tracks, each with different Artists. In these cases the Albumartist is usually set to a common name like "Various Artists".

In other cases where there may be several duets or similar on an Album, there is likely a single common Artist that assembled this Album They would be listed as AlbumArtist. Again each song would then have an Artist field that would include this same name plus any other contributors to each separate track.

It is not uncommon for the Artist and Albumartist field to be exactly the same when the songs of an entire Album are all by the same Artist. But these fields are both still essential to be included so that your library can be ideally managed.

Text values in tags take up virtually no file space, even compared to very highly compressed lossy audio. So I wouldn't worry about that aspect.

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Unless there is some overriding reason why not, Album Artist tags should always be populated for any album tracks. It is especially needed where the contained tracks may not all be by the same Artist name - such as collections, or when one or more tracks have different collaborating artists (duets, etc). Otherwise you can end up with ambiguous matches if you just rely on the album name - such as in the case you describe with an album named just "Greatest Hits", where there could be several matches. PA will try to fall back to using the track Artist tag, but there's plenty of room for error that way so it's much better to use the proper "bomb proof" mechanism if you can. 

To ensure all of the desired tracks are guaranteed to be contained within one specific album grouping, either use the same Album Artist tag for every track (which is the correct matching method for albums) or edit the Album tag to something more unique to reflect the specific content - such as "The Beatles Greatest Hits" or "Greatest Hits by The Beatles" in your example.

Andre

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Thank you guys.

Of course I know and understand what you are saying about the difference and need between Artist and Album Artist. No problem with that. Except that from my own experience, I got too many problems when Album Artist was filled because it was considered first versus Artist to sort the albums (if I remember well because it is quite a long time ago) so it was messy knowing that I had tagged all my tracks using Artist. In order to keep things precise I have taken the habit to put in Artist "A&B" if it is a duet or "feat. B" in the song title if it is a guest.

Concerning Compilations, I use in MusicBee the "Compilation" tick, which put all the album's track in a "#Various Artists" folder but do not specify it in the Album Artist that remains empty.

But then, reading the knowledge base on Metadata, it seems that I have made the wrong choice... But if you pay attention, it is a bit weird because Artist is always presented before Album Artist and it has even the tag "TPE1" while the following is "TPE2". So why giving preference to the second one at the detriment of the first?

Then reading "Should Album Artist tags be missing, Poweramp will fall back to trying to group songs into albums based on the Album and Artist tags instead - but often with mixed levels of success, as Artist names can vary track-by-track - such as featured artists, duets, compilations, etc." So, as my Artist tags are different and Album Artist is empty, why PA is not able to separate them properly? For me it is really something that should be improved.

 

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But then, I was rechecking the AP Settings and in Settings / Collection / Lists / Albums you have some settings to choose and one is "Album Artists for Albums" on/off which favors Artist Album over Artist and it is precised that it affects the sorting.

In my case it is off. So, I think it is a bug that AP is putting different artists as seen in the Image 3 when it is clearly specific to one artist and that the metadata of all these files are correct.

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I have been down this road a long time ago, having similar arguments as you do and there has been other threads along the same path over the years in the forum... It's painful to re-tag a large library, but at the end it's worth it.

The situation with having Album Artist blank is basically saying that all your albums are by Artist "" (blank) and that takes away sorting functionality.

I was pretty annoyed when I started correcting my tags, but I'm so happy that I took the step and did it. It could be automated with some tagging tool that allows for scripting.

I haven't bothered with the multiple artist separation thing as that feature came after I did my re-tagging, so I'm just appending a (feat. xxx) to the song title. So in most cases TPE1 is the same as TPE2 except for compilation albums where I use Various Artists for the Album Artist.  

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On 6/29/2024 at 6:43 AM, Arkats said:

So, as my Artist tags are different and Album Artist is empty, why PA is not able to separate them properly? For me it is really something that should be improved.

If the AlbumArtist tag is left empty and PA has to guess from existing tags to create the albums, they will get split if there are different Artist tags for the same Album. Guessing will never lead to accurate results. Use the AlbumArtist tag, or don't, it is your library. But your choice to leave them out will cause issues like this in other players as well.

 

On 6/29/2024 at 6:43 AM, Arkats said:

Concerning Compilations, I use in MusicBee the "Compilation" tick, which put all the album's track in a "#Various Artists" folder but do not specify it in the Album Artist that remains empty.

This is unique to MusicBee, so as you can see it is not a universal solution. Again this involves a level of guessing for the AlbumArtist field even in MusicBee.
 

On 6/29/2024 at 6:43 AM, Arkats said:

Except that from my own experience, I got too many problems when Album Artist was filled because it was considered first versus Artist to sort the albums (if I remember well because it is quite a long time ago) so it was messy knowing that I had tagged all my tracks using Artist

I can't say I have had this experience. Any tag that a player cannot read is simply ignored. It is far better to have tag details available for any situation and not need it, then to need it and not have it at the ready.

 

Any decent tag editor can help make this a quick task. Try mp3tag as it is free (for PC) and a very powerful tool just for tagging. There is plenty of support on their site, and in the forum. Adding the AlbumArtist tag is a common request and you will find many ways to action this change for your library.

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Thank you both for your help.

I am terribly sorry, but I still don't get it.

1. "Artist" is a metadata as all the others like "Album", "Song Title", etc. So, it is "understandable" and manageable by PA.

2. There is the setting that allows you to choose "Album Artist" over "Artist" so when it is off, it is supposed to choose "Artist" over "Album Artist".

3. So PA can sort my titles considering metadata "Artist" and "Album".

It is just what I need.

I don't understand why in the way you present things, you seem to deny the existence and the possible use of the metadata "Artist". Why giving so much importance to Album Artist when comes first the metadata Artist?

1 hour ago, 6b6561 said:

The situation with having Album Artist blank is basically saying that all your albums are by Artist "" (blank) and that takes away sorting functionality.

If blank, then PA considers the metadata "Artist" to sort. But with the specific setting, PA do not even need to consider "Album Artist" and go directly to "Artist".

46 minutes ago, MotleyG said:

If the AlbumArtist tag is left empty and PA has to guess from existing tags to create the albums, they will get split if there are different Artist tags for the same Album.

Sorry, but I don't understand why PA should guess? It just splits according to logic using Artist and Album tags.

53 minutes ago, MotleyG said:

Any decent tag editor can help make this a quick task. Try mp3tag as it is free (for PC) and a very powerful tool just for tagging. There is plenty of support on their site, and in the forum. Adding the AlbumArtist tag is a common request and you will find many ways to action this change for your library.

Thank you, I keep that in mind... hoping to get what I need before going that way... 😉 

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@Arkats

Track Artists vs Album Artist.

Your library is populated with the former, not the latter.

If identical album names occur, how to split? The assumption is that these track artists all feature on some unified album title, and with no album artist to differentiate them, they are co-mingled.

That's all this is. Bite the bullet and fix your tags already.

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1 hour ago, Arkats said:

I am terribly sorry, but I still don't get it.

I really can't explain it any better. Albumartist is a key metadata tag field. It exists for a reason. If you choose not to populate the Albumartist tag, expect to get unexpected results when browsing.

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4 hours ago, Arkats said:

2. There is the setting that allows you to choose "Album Artist" over "Artist" so when it is off, it is supposed to choose "Artist" over "Album Artist".

No there isn't any such setting. There are three settings that allow you to display the contents of the Album Artist tags inside of lists (instead of the normal Artist tag shown under a song title) and also on the Player Screen. That will also cause such lists to be sorted based on the displayed Album Artist tag rather than sorting on the Artist tag. It won't change how the tracks are grouped into albums though.

Settings=>Library=>Lists=>Album Artist Label for Tracks
Settings=>Library=>Lists=>Album Artist Label for Albums
Settings=>Library=>Lists=>Album Artist Label for Album Artist Tracks

You may find Settings=>Library=>Lists=>Join Albums might help you, as it will prevent songs without any Album Artist tag from being split apart (it's a largely obsolete switch, which can help with poorly tagged files) .

image.png

 

However, it doesn't matter how many times you rephrase the same observations, the only correct and safe method to group various tracks into one album entity is to make sure that the Album tags are the same for all of the tracks that you want to include, AND ALSO the Album Artist tags are also identical across all of those desired tracks. The Artist tag can be anything you want, and may be the same or different for each song as it applies to the performer of the SONG, not the ALBUM.

Should you choose not to do that, the results can be unpredictable and are not supported.

Andre

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Ok guys, thank you for your help and kindness but please don't whip me!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 

@Fitzian

22 hours ago, Fitzian said:

Track Artists vs Album Artist

That is an interesting way to put it... I start to see the point, thanks.

What is the behavior of PA if all track artists tags are the same as well as the album tag? Is PA able to understand that all tracks belong to the same album?

@MotleyG

22 hours ago, MotleyG said:

Albumartist is a key metadata tag field. It exists for a reason.

Yes, I guess it is the case. So, far I have always understood that "Artist" was the main tag for the main song and album artist and "Album artist" was used to include all other artists collaborating. As far as understand now, it seems that it is the opposite.

@andrewilley

18 hours ago, andrewilley said:

It won't change how the tracks are grouped into albums though.

My mistake. These settings only concern what is displayed on screen. I though it concerns the way PA understand and group tracks.

@ALL

Thank you to all for your patience and help!

I will investigate the way to automatically copy the tag "Artist" in the field "Album Artist" because no way that I do it myself with 36k tracks.

Wish you all a lovely summer!!

Laurent

 

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Copying Artist to the Album Artist tag (but only if it's empty!) is fairly scriptable in programs like MP3Tag and TagScanner. Beware that you don't create further problems for yourself by doing this on a "Various Artists" type of album though, as you'll completely break any semblance of album recognition if all of the Album Artist tags are different. Album Artist MUST be the same for every track that needs to be considered as part of an album.
 

1 hour ago, Arkats said:

I have always understood that "Artist" was the main tag for the main song and album artist and "Album artist" was used to include all other artists collaborating.

That could be where this issue started. Back in the mists of time the, ID3 (for MP3 file) spec defined four main performer-oreinted tags:

TPE1 - The 'Lead artist(s)/Lead performer(s)/Soloist(s)/Performing group' is used for the main artist(s). They are seperated with the "/" character.
TPE2 - The 'Band/Orchestra/Accompaniment' frame is used for additional information about the performers in the recording.
TPE3 - The 'Conductor' frame is used for the name of the conductor.
TPE4 - The 'Interpreted, remixed, or otherwise modified by' frame contains more information about the people behind a remix and similar interpretations of another existing piece.

Over the years, the de facto usage has become linked with other format specs (such as Vorbis) as follows:

TPE1 = ARTIST - the performer(s) or band for that song only, which include collaborators and duets, etc. Separators have become much more varied than just "/" these days.
TPE2 = ALBUM ARTIST - how that song's overall containing album should be attributed (could be an artist or band name for example, or just "Various Artists" for a collection). This is used for grouping purposes.
TPE3 = CONDUCTOR - mainly user for classical material.
TPE4 = REMIXER - less commonly used outside of DJ mixes, etc. Not read by Poweramp.

There are tons of other tags for writer, lyricist, engineer/producer, etc, but Poweramp does not use any of those.

Andre

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Dear Andre,

Thank you very much for the reply.
 

On 7/1/2024 at 3:30 PM, andrewilley said:

Copying Artist to the Album Artist tag (but only if it's empty!) is fairly scriptable in programs like MP3Tag and TagScanner. Beware that you don't create further problems for yourself by doing this on a "Various Artists" type of album though, as you'll completely break any semblance of album recognition if all of the Album Artist tags are different. Album Artist MUST be the same for every track that needs to be considered as part of an album.

That  is great info and you are definitely right, no need to create more problems! I will investigate and see how far I want to go. May I will just do that on album titles that are common to several artists like those we have mentioned.

 

On 7/1/2024 at 3:30 PM, andrewilley said:

Back in the mists of time the, ID3 (for MP3 file) spec defined four main performer-oriented tags

That is very nice and funny you mentioned that because yesterday I was reflecting on the different discussions we have had and I thought that back in the beginning of the years 2000 when I have started to digitize my entire CD collection with iTunes, I was not sure anymore but I suspected that Album Artist didn't exist as a tag... 😉 

That is the limitation of having been at the beginning of the digital revolution using the first tools and formats. Doing the same job today would be more easy (especially for the metadata download) and with a far better quality/weight ratio.

It is not necessarily easy for me to accept to work again on my collection especially because after almost 40 years of listening and collecting, it has become quite substantial.

I have became almost jealous of my kids whom the way they access music has become completely different and much easier. They do not need to own the music, they just tag what they like on music platforms and build their own collection on the flow with the thumb. Lucky them! 🙂 

Thank you very much for your very useful contribution!!

Laurent

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I would suggest if albums are working for you, there's no need to edit 30,000 of them. Just work on the ones that you are having problems with, and now you know what the issue is it will be easier to fix them.

I'm not a fan of streaming services for long-term material - both for music and video content. Yes, it's fantastic to let the AI work it all out for you and present a lot of music or films that you like. However my mindset is that I already know a lot of the music and films that I like, and they are always available just where I put them. Even if the internet is down, the streaming service is glitching, the service I chose has lost the rights to something (or just plain dropped it), what I want isn't available in my country, etc.

Every time I read an article saying "Harry Potter fans rejoice, the movies are coming to Netflix", or "this is the last month to watch xxxxxxxx before it leaves Disney+" I think: I don't care, the BluRay Collectors Editions are sitting safely on my shelf exactly where they've always been.

Andre

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1 hour ago, andrewilley said:

I would suggest if albums are working for you, there's no need to edit 30,000 of them. Just work on the ones that you are having problems with, and now you know what the issue is it will be easier to fix them.

Exactly!!

 

1 hour ago, andrewilley said:

I'm not a fan of streaming services for long-term material - both for music and video content. Yes, it's fantastic to let the AI work it all out for you and present a lot of music or films that you like. However my mindset is that I already know a lot of the music and films that I like, and they are always available just where I put them. Even if the internet is down, the streaming service is glitching, the service I chose has lost the rights to something (or just plain dropped it), what I want isn't available in my country, etc.

I couldn't agree more, but I guess we are a bit of old school. And for sure I would have never discovered some of the amazing albums I have if I would have followed only one source of discovery, and AI is the opposite of serendipity.

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On 6/29/2024 at 1:43 PM, Arkats said:

Concerning Compilations, I use in MusicBee the "Compilation" tick, which put all the album's track in a "#Various Artists" folder but do not specify it in the Album Artist that remains empty.

I'm not sure what MusicBee's compilation tick does, it might be that it sets the ITUNESCOMPILATION tag. iTunes has a tag that it uses to identify albums as compilations, albums with this tags shows up first in the Artist list as Compilation in iTunes on the PC and on the iPhone it they show up in a category of their own.

I don't think that this tag is recognized by Poweramp as the "common" way is to use something like Various Artists as album artist.

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25 minutes ago, 6b6561 said:

I'm not sure what MusicBee's compilation tick does,

Probably just sets the TCMP tag to '1', presumably the same thing iTunes does. Not sure what good that does (it's not in the official ID3v2.4.0 spec) but PA doesn't use it anyway.

Andre

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TCMP was the tag I was thinking about. That's used in the Apple world to identify compilations as compilations, the good thing with this tag is that it can be used for having a "Compilation" category. It's pretty neat as you have all the compilations in one place, makes it a bit easier to find what you are looking for, can be a bit hard to find the right "eighties" album under Various Artists.

Looks like a number of players supports TCMP as it's probably quite common "in the wild" among tracks originating from iTunes rips.

 

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@6b6561 & @andrewilley

Yes, you are both right, it is the iTune compilation tag. I don't know what it does exactly in the background (didn't know about TCMP) but at least I can see that it groups all these albums into a single folder named #Various artists.

1 hour ago, 6b6561 said:

the good thing with this tag is that it can be used for having a "Compilation" category.

That is a good point, except that on MusicBee this criteria do not appears if you want to sort with that category. So, I had to create my own personal tag "Compilation"...

 

1 hour ago, andrewilley said:

it's not in the official ID3v2.4.0 spec

Sad to read that I would have expected that it follows the official specs.

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