I would use an action of the type "Format value" or the function Convert>Tag-Tag for _DIRECTORY
and an absolute path e.g.
Format string: d:\my music\%artist%\%album%
The swapping problem is handled a lot of times in the forum, e.g. here: /t/11020/1
But you should revise your naming scheme, e.g.
Franz Ferdinand is the name of a group that looks like a single artist.
The Avener is the name of a single artist that looks like a group.
What do you do with 2 single artists like Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush - would they become Gabriel, Peter & Bush, Kate?
I would never swap anything in names because there are too many exceptions.
As to the second issue. Yes I realize there are a billion exceptions, so I do it on a case by case basis. If there are two artists I usually do Gabriel, Peter and Kate Bush.
With bands that have The I do Doors, The
And I try to minimize the variation at the expense of accuracy, which happens quite often with jazz. So all my Coltrane albums are under Coltrane, John even if the ensemble he was playing with had a specific name at that point. I use the comment tag to insert more specific info. The last thing I want is separate artists (by tag and folder structure) simply because he recorded as The John Coltrane Quartet on one occasion and The John Coltrane Quintet on another occasion (for example).
Another question: I'm using the Action "Format Value" to automatically populate the Artist value into the Album Artist field. But I run into issues if there is a previous value in Album Artist. MP3tag seems to think the previous value has been erased, but Foobar doesn't.
So if I want to populate Coltrane, John into Album Artist which already contains "John Coltrane" and I use the Format Value, I then open the album up in Foobar and under Album Artist I have "John Coltrane; Coltrane, John". MP3Tag does not show that.
Have you considered to use the fields ALBUMARTISTSORT, ARTISTSORT, TITLESORT and/or ALBUMSORT?
You can input any kind of grouping term or a unified spelling. This might save you from all the "case by case" decisions.
I think that you can create more than one field of one type if you use the MP3tag field separator, e.g. Format value for ALBUMARTIST:
Format string: %albumartist%\\Coltrane, John
This should take the old value from ALBUMARTIST and add the new string. And as the \\ is used as field separator, you get 2 fields in the end.
I wonder which players can deal with multivalue fields - it could well be that it is wiser to use a different separator e.g. the ";" which is used by WMP: "John Coltrane; Coltrane, John" would appear under both: John and Coltrane.
iTunes would ignore this separator.
The different player issue is precisely why I want to avoid multi-valued tags. I remember loading some music into Google Music and it simply wouldn't read artist names in any coherent manner. I think it had to do with the fact that the MP3 album had multiple ID3 versions and there may have been a different Album Artist value in each. One of my goals is uniformity across players and platform, which is why I always do parent folder=artist=album artist and for tagtype (when using MP3s) I always use ID3v2.3 and eliminate the rest of them.
These days I only acquire FLAC but do have a replicated MP3 library for mobile audio and streaming. DBPoweramp always uses the ID3v2.3 version and no others in converting FLAC to MP3, so this issue rarely comes up anymore.
I have 1000s of albums at this point, so I'm going to stick with my last name, first name system at this point. I can handle the exceptions manually. It would just be nice though if I could load up a bunch of folders (or tags) that are "first name last name" at once and have them renamed.
Also, is it generally a good or bad idea to have the album image embedded in the tag? I remember reading once not to, but I can't remember why.
I think that depends on taste, mainly.
I prefer to have the pictures embedded in every file so that the files are independent from a surrounding folder structure: I do not want to recreate my collection layout on the stick that I use in the car or any other portable device but I still want to see the picture.
Also, it may happen that you rename the files so that they are moved to a different folder and the picture files are left orphaned in the original folder.
And: various players use different naming conventions for external picture files. I think there are "folder.jpg" and "cover.jpg".
In the old days it may have been opportune in respect to used disc space to use only external pictures.