Skip to main content


If you are using a Hotmail or Outlook email address, please change it now, as Microsoft is rejecting all email from our service outright.
Topic: Tagging Advice (Read 834 times) previous topic - next topic
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Tagging Advice

After ripping so many CDs to my collection and just not being happy with the way things look, I started really looking into Tagging.  The more I look into it, the more I dread actually doing it, but I know in my mind it needs to be done.

A few questions, any advice would be great.

First of all, my directory structure is as follows:

Secondly, the way I've been tagging is using Artist Name as the name of the band/group.  I'm noticing that some people use Album Artist but I could never make sense of that one.

For Albums:
How should I handle tagging Soundtracks?  What about albums with various artists (which is kinda like soundtracks, to a point)?

What about artists who do collaborations on at least one track in their album?  Take Ozzy Osbourne, for example.  His previous album (Ordinary Man) featured collaborations from a few different people.  Keep in mind, lets say I want to listen to the album, the way I would go about it, is Clicking on Ozzy Osbourne, and then on the album Ordinar Man.  As it is right now, when I ripped it, the Artist Name had Ozzy in all of the tracks, plus a few tracks with other names.  If you think about it, from the start of me selecting Ozzy Osbourne, there will be more than one Artist entry in my artist list for that same album, but unfortunately, I wouldn't see them without knowing what also to click on.  How could I get around this?  Again, I'm seeing other Metadata properties that are seemingly unused, such as Composer, Perfomer and Album Artist.  I was thinking about editing the Composer field on each track, which would be a lot of work, obviously.  That said, I'm thinking maybe the Performer field should be used?  Again, advice on that, please.

Also, I'm starting to look into Discogs, and now realizing that there are three fields that I need to take advantage of, not just one.  The first two are Genre and Style.  When I ripped my CDs using WMP, most of the CDs were given Genres, most of them don't match what's on Discogs, in fact, the assigned WMP Genre tags are actually more inline with the Style.  The third field I want to take advantage of, is the Label, which confuses me.  Wikipedia has their labels as a Record Label, whereas Discogs has it as a Record Label and part of the barcode.

With Genres/Styles and Labels, how do you handle them?

I did take a peek at the Discogs add-on and it's not making much sense to me on how to run it.

Re: Tagging Advice

Reply #1
Just a quick reply:
- album artist is exactly good for that, compilations and OST albums with various artists!
- for featured artists there are specific tags, look into the tags from discogs for instance!

I dont know how other people use genre vs style; since I tag all music albums via discogs, I use genre for music and style for audiobooks :)

Maybe that helps a bit?

Re: Tagging Advice

Reply #2
I'd recommend not using Discogs genre and style directly. The reason is that Discogs does not really have an open system in this regard. The genre and style choices are limited and unique to Discogs. It started as a site for 'electronic' music and that genre is, as a result, over represented, and other genres are either underrepresented or non-existent. For instance, Discogs lumps Folk, Country and World music into one genre; not good. I add Discogs info via the Discogs tagger, but I keep the genre and style info separate in their own fields.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  ;~)

Re: Tagging Advice

Reply #3
I'd suggest putting track number at the front of the filename.  There are still old media players -- or even newer car players -- that sort playback by filename.

E.g. %artist%\%album%\%track% - %title

For EAC: %artist%\%albumtitle%\%tracknr2% - %title%

Re: Tagging Advice

Reply #4
For foobar2000, the %album% and %album artist% syntax check more than one field in the tags.
%track artist% works in a similar way.

This is the syntax for the relevant default playlist columns, but you can create your own.

Artist -> %artist%
Album -> %album%
Artist/album -> %album artist% - %album%
Title -> %title%
Title / track artist -> %title%[ '//' %track artist%]

Re: Tagging Advice

Reply #5
I started playing with Discogs last night and I'm noticing now that it's using the %Album Artist% field.  Not sure how I feel about that based on the way that I'd been tagging, but maybe it's onto something.  I spent a long time tagging music from one artist, one of their albums is full of collaborations.  Maybe Discogs has a better method than what I'm using, to which I'd be fine with.  I'm going to go ahead and utilize their Genre and Style tags for now.

Up until now, I'd been using Windows Media Player to rip my CDs.  I'm only interested in WAV format (I've read it retains the best audio quality).  Rather than ripping with WMP, then depending on Foobar2000's Discogs Tagging Component to update my tags, is there a more seamless way of doing it?  Is there a WMP Plugin for Discogs or can Foobar2000 be used to RIP Audio CDs?

Re: Tagging Advice

Reply #6
Try using Flac for archiving. Like wave files, it's lossless. It won't compress anywhere near as much as MP3, but somewhere between half and two thirds the original wave file size is probably normal. If you do any editing of the ripped audio you'll need wave files, and you can convert therm to Flac later, but if you're just ripping  and tagging you can rip directly to Flac. Even if it's not a hack (I'm not sure), wave file tags still aren't universally supported. Does WMP read them? Not all players do.
You can convert between wave files and Flac all day long without altering the quality, assuming they're the same bitdepth (16 bit etc).

Fb2k has it's own CD ripper. It's found under the File/Open Audio CD menu. You can use the Rip button or add CD tracks to a playlist and rip them from there. Does WMP let you run more than one ripping job at a time? Back when I had a huge number of CDs to rip I had three CD/DVD drives. So I'd put a disc in each one, add them to a fb2k playlist and tag them etc, then rip/convert the three discs simultaneously.

Fb2k has three security modes for ripping (check the Drive settings when opening a CD). Disabling it just rips. Standard mode reads each section of the disc more the once and it's happy when it gets the same data twice. Paranoid mode does more checking and is probably over-kill in most situations. The reason for the different ripping modes is because CDs don't have the error checking/correction that DVDs have, so a player/ripper has no way of knowing if the audio from a CD is exactly what it should be.

Re: Tagging Advice

Reply #7
Hi there,

Firstly keep in mind everyone is likely to end up using a somewhat different tagging scheme that suites their tastes, as you'll see below. 8)

I tag the actual media files to a bare minimum - artist, album, date, title, genre. The reason being for keeping backups or multiple drives in sync - once tagged the files never change, no need to copy GB worth of data replacing files when you just corrected a tag here or there.

Then I use external tags for the extended information. (I personally still use m-TAGS from the ol' days, but now'days External Tags component is probably the better choice?). That results in my entire library of tags being roughly 2MB of text files and can be synced up in seconds.

For extended tags I try to stick to the "standard" Vorbis Comment tag names found in Tag Mapping wiki, plus a few others that database sites use.

So I was going to break down the tags I use, but really it is quite a lot to explain :D so here is a simple screenshot of Properties for example -


Secondly, the way I've been tagging is using Artist Name as the name of the band/group.  I'm noticing that some people use Album Artist but I could never make sense of that one.

ARTIST should indeed be the name of the artist/band/group.

ALBUM ARTIST is used when there are various artists to keep the album listed complete under one artist (when library viewer is browsing "by album artist"). It should be the same tag value for entire album.

(I also use ENSEMBLE as an album wide band/group, but that is an extreme case caused by other tagging issues to do with playlist grouping :-[ )

How should I handle tagging Soundtracks?  What about albums with various artists (which is kinda like soundtracks, to a point)?

For example you could use -

ARTIST = Soundgarden - (individual artist names)

ALBUM ARTIST = Various Artists - (for compilations)

RELEASETYPE = Compilation

Or -

ALBUM ARTIST = Hans Zimmer - (name of the soundtrack composer)

RELEASETYPE = Soundtrack

STYLE = Soundtrack

My usage of certain tags -

RELEASETYPE - only used for anything not a Studio album - "Single, Soundtrack, Live" (etc). Title formatting fills in "Studio" as default value when tag is empty.

MEDIA - only used for anything not from CD source - "SACD, HDCD" (etc). Again, title formatting fills in "CD" as default value when tag is empty.

What about artists who do collaborations on at least one track in their album?  Take Ozzy Osbourne, for example.  His previous album (Ordinary Man) featured collaborations from a few different people.

So when I rip new music, I take a look at the Discogs, Wikipedia articles for accurate artist info, and add in AllMusic for genre / style info.

This album has a few "featured" artists, "appearing" artists, and tons of musicians. For mind this is how I would tag it (complicated) -

ARTIST = Ozzy Osbourne - (for every track except 11, since he is the primary artist)

ARTIST = Ozzy Osbourne; Post Malone; Travis Scott - (for track 11, tags are split for multiple values using semi-colons ; so they appear in lists individually)

ALBUM ARTIST = Ozzy Osbourne - (for every track, because track 11 has multiple, and in order to trigger TRACK ARTIST showing that in the playlist)

I use PERFORMER for featured artists, which I started doing years ago. However in retrospect, I might've preferred a custom FEATURED tag. PERFORMER is typically used to list involved musicians and band members on the track, so technically it works for featured artists, but now'days I'd rather use both tags. With that in mind you could use -

FEATURED = Elton John - (for track 4)

PERFORMER  = Slash - (for track 4, etc)

I usually distinguish a featured artist as having a vocal on the track, while performers are the musicians on the track. Not really necessary to tag the complete band, but you might like to tag a prominent guest instrumentalist like that. ;)

Doing it this way keeps the entire album listed under Ozzy Osbourne (when browsing "by artist"). And it gives you a lot of versatility in how to display the tags.

You can add other views / columns to your library viewer to list FEATURED and PERFORMER. Or add them to the ARTIST list if you want to merge tags to one list - currently I believe only Facets (see documentation under "multiple patterns") and the excellent (soon to be updated?) Library Tree script can merge multiple fields. A very useful feature.

Keep in mind the column / view patterns need to use angled brackets in order to split multiple artist tags into individuals -


With Genres/Styles and Labels, how do you handle them?

I find it best to keep it simple (LOL) and not overly tag with every genre combination on the planet. The point of tagging is to find a thing quickly, and I find consolidating tags to 1 or 2 genres and styles (per album) - like a primary and secondary, helps me to remember where to find it.

GENRE tag for me is album wide, the same for every track. The reason for this is playlist grouping, where I used to have (and many people do) genre in the playlist heading. That only works if every track has the same tag value, like ALBUM does, to keep the tracks grouped together.

Secondly I only have 18 or so genres as a top level tag - "Pop", or "Rock" (separately) and never with any additional descriptors like "Alternative", which instead go to ...

STYLE, which on the other hand, I have 50 or so and tag as specific to each track - "Alternative Rock" might be on one track, while the next might be "Acoustic" or "Instrumental". And certain non-standard styles I want to filter like "Female Vocal". But again, not going overboard with dozens of styles that mean the same thing.

LABEL or PUBLISHER I guess are interchangeable(?)... I hardly use it myself.

CATALOGNUMBER is the other appropriate field for the barcode / catalog. (Going by the Tag Mapping wiki...)

Cheers :D

(Sorry that was longer than I thought, but you asked... LOL)

Re: Tagging Advice

Reply #8
I'll play devil's advocate here. What you want to ask yourself most is "is this worth something to me".

ALBUM ARTIST has obvious value of keeping compilations, one-off songs sung by someone else or artists who changed their names over their carrier together.

I think for most people PERFORMER and COMPOSER tags actually don't hold much value. Usually you have a few people primarily named as artists (for better or worse) and this can be covered sufficiently by ALBUM ARTIST + ARTIST. Do you actually care who composed popular pop song X? Or do you only know that it's sung by popular artist A?

Are you ever going to query RECORD LABEL as a form of browsing your tracks? If you answered yes (and I bet the majority did not), feel free to maintain it. But don't try to do it just because someone else is using it and you feel an urge to "fit in".

For GENRE, I'd either trash the existing tags or make a quick attempt to salvage what can be salvaged (probably not much). You want to keep it simple and personal, or you'll quickly give up especially if you already have a large library that needs complete retagging.

Use words you understand. You don't have to meticuliously tag every niche subgenre. If all you know is you have some artist who does some kind of Metal, tag it as simple as that. If over time your library of Metal grows and it becomes harder to differentiate between artists, start adding more keywords that cleanly differentiate between them (melodic metal, heavy metal etc). Ask yourself "what's the least amount of keywords you need to describe this artist's sound and tell it apart from the rest".

Don't be afraid to use nontraditional words to describe what *you* are hearing. And don't be afraid to tag artists with multiple genres. There are many bands that stay just in the middle of random genres, like EDM+Metal or Rap+Rock. Also, scores and soundtracks for most will be just genres like any other. Do they have some special significance to you that warrants the different treatment?

I'd suggest not using STYLE until you are forced to do so. If you use GENRE as a pool of keywords/tags, you will do fine just using that for a long time. Make sure to install Facets (foo_facets) or the Columns UI Filter panels component otherwise browsing your library will be super inefficient with multiple tags.

If you get satisfaction from trying to meticulously tag your library according to rigid standards set by others, feel free to do  that. But for me, tags have one purpose: allow me to find the subset of tracks/artists I'm looking for with the least amount of clicks and require the least amount of effort to maintain.

Re: Tagging Advice

Reply #9
Label, Catalognumber, Barcode. Keep data in separate fields, and selectively display and combine them for display as necessary. These fields can automatically separate different editions of an album, even when they are not displayed. Cat. number is a string of letters, numbers of punctuation marks. A barcode is an integer.

Genre. Music continually evolves. A style draws from several previously existing ones. It is not possible to have rigid genres. Add all keywords that apply. I add no more than 3, and source them from Rate Your Music, where they are more frequently revised based on consensus. They should be album-wide in most cases, because it is too hard to accurately categorize every composition.

Writer, Composer, Lyricist. Authors or the whole piece, music and words respectively. I find them helpful to find different versions of the same song. It is probably not useful to enter songwriters of pop music form recent decades. But for older music with 1 or 2 authors it is useful. This music is usually performed by many artists.

Guest Artist. Performer. For popular music guests are credited as "feat.". Performers are musicians credited in notes only. This could be a singer on an instrumental album or a perfomer of an important guitar part. Suppose you would like to find their other performances or own releases. I don't want either to appear as artists to keep the display clean.

Keep all fields multi-value to allow sorting by every artist individually and visually separate the data fields with colors or fancy characters if later desired.

Re: Tagging Advice

Reply #10
For boxed sets or albums with multiple CDs, I had been manually changing the total # of tracks per album, and also manually setting the disc # and Total discs.  This was the only way I could get these to tag correctly (r at least the two so far that I'd attempted.  For collections containing different albums, I'd noticed that the DISCOGS tag will rewrite the album title as the name of the boxed set, and I obviously don't want that.  Is there an existing tag I can use for collection names?  Or would I have to create a new tag/field as such?  Ugh.  I wouldn't have the slightest idea on how to get that to work and tag properly.

Re: Tagging Advice

Reply #11
** If you want to auto-tag and auto-populate, then I would give Musicbrainz Picard a shot.  Remember to cluster and look up.

** as for ARTIST vs ALBUM ARTIST: I want to advocate %album artist%.
- In foobar2000 it is not just a tag: if the <ALBUM ARTIST> field is missing, %album artist% will pick from ARTIST.
- Classical music that is composer-oriented? All my Bach has Bach as <ALBUM ARTIST>
- Splits and various artists including soundtracks: Use <ALBUM ARTIST> for the album artist and <ARTIST> for the track artist. ("Featuring"? Use Performer.)

** If you want an artist\album\track format, then I suggest something like the following - explanations will be given below.
Led Zeppelin\1975¨ Physical Graffiti\1.03 ¨ In My Time of Dying.flac
Led Zeppelin\1975¨ Physical Graffiti ¶1\03 ¨ In My Time of Dying.flac
Led Zeppelin\1975¨ Physical Graffiti {2015 remaster 3CD} ¶1\03 ¨ In My Time of Dying.flac
- I want my albums sorted chronologically. So not (album) artist and then album name; the next is %date%.  Make sure that you format it so that there is a default replacement if the field is empty.
- Then start track filename with number too. Or maybe discnumber-tracknumber. If you have nothing with more than 9 discs and 99 tracks, you can pad to like 113 or 765.  I prefer discnumber as part of the album string, as I have one folder per physical disc (CD ripped) and then I suggest to have disc number in the "album string" (I remove discnumber when there is only one). And I have an album version tag too ...
- You can use separator signs that are rarely in use elsewhere, hence the pilcrow and the ¨ used above. The braces are there because well there are a lot of ( )'s to be seen, not so many [ ]'s, and very few { }'s in album names.

High Voltage socket-nose-avatar

Re: Tagging Advice

Reply #12

Can someone explain to me what this is used for?  The other Artworks are obvious to me.  Thanks.

Re: Tagging Advice

Reply #13

Can someone explain to me what this is used for?  The other Artworks are obvious to me.  Thanks.

There are actually fifteen id3v2 embedded image frames. The page I linked, describes it as a picture to be displayed as file icon, even though windows explorer will display as file icon the embedded image in other frames, if the icon is not present. As for its use within foobar2000, EsPlaylist is the only component which as far as I know takes advantage of this frame. In the EsPlaylist grouping layer settings, you can choose the displayed artwork from all five frames available in the properties dialog, which means you can have different pictures for up to five group layers.
I'm late

Re: Tagging Advice

Reply #14
On top of all the good suggestions you had in the previous posts (the only sour note being the total misinterpretation of what a music genre is, but that's a loosing battle), I can suggest a couple of things I found very useful.
The first one is testing your tags on other players. Foobar2000's tags customizability is a double edged sword, in that the great freedom it allows might make your tags unintelligible outside of foobar2000, if that is an issue.
The second is to highlight in the properties dialog the tags you use to group tracks into albums in playlist views, so that you can always see at first glance if they're consistent. To achieve this, I listed some pseudo-fields in the advanced settings standard fields, such as:
Code: [Select]
 =separator3;          ALBUM=separator4;
which mimic a group title in the properties dialog, as you can see in the attached picture.
I'm late

Re: Tagging Advice

Reply #15
First of all, my directory structure is as follows:
There is a near unanimous belief that (sub)folder structure needs to follow a hierarchy based on specific artist and album tags, but if you are embedding images into your files, there is no advantage to such a file layout.[/quote]
A foobar enthusiast who's neither an audiophile, nor an album snob.

Ever notice whenever there is a thread mentioning track ratings, someone will inevitably come in to post that they don't use ratings or believe in rating music?

SimplePortal 1.0.0 RC1 © 2008-2020