General Tagging Practices

Well now that I know how to use mp3tag ... :laughing: ... (well at least sort of...)

What do I do now?

I would like suggestions and/or links to sites or forums that discuss actual correct content structures or accepted practice recommendations for all these columns and also the best way to set of the file/directory structure. :mt_help:

I'm always (as a tagging newb) finding lots of situations where standard forms don't work.

For example, I have some albums that are a single file (all tracks, one file), and then I have the standard format where are tracks are separate files. Is there a standard accepted practice for how to handle that in terms of file/directory structure, tagging appropriately (especially for playlist purposes)? ...etc. I have oodles of questions like that, that in a year or so will seem pretty stupid.

And I don't think this is the site for that information, this is the site for how to get it done!

Thanks, and thanks again for this great tool! :mt_options:

I think i understand what you mean...

There is no best or worst way to tag your files. Mp3tag is a dynamic tool that ables you to tag your albums the way you want it.

You decide how you want to rename your folder according to your needs.

Feel free to ask more specific questions regarding renaming issues, etc.

Take care!

Exactly why I'd like links to reference sites so that I'm not starting from scratch. There's lots of people on this site who should have recommended practices or links to sites that do.

I don't want to reinvent the wheel. I just want a good solid base with which to start.

There is a specific question in my post about albums. Does anybody have an answer?

Also, another question, how do you normally differentiate between song versions among, "original song (album or single), a release of "best of" later on, a remix for some purpose (party, dance etc.)?


There are 2 ways of ripping one album.

One is the "all tracks" to one big file.

Usually the output is the music file + the *.cue file that ables you to separate all tracks from the single file.

The other is to rip every tracks of the album to separate files.

I really don't understand why you complicate what is actually quite simple.

I don't think there is such a thing as an "accepted practice" when it comes to file and directory structure. The two main considerations are personal preference and (sometimes) what your application software dictates. With luck, the software you use will be flexible enough to not dictate any particular folder structure.

The only rule of thumb that I can think of, from personal experience, is that it's good to have just one album per folder. You can further split that into disc per folder if you like (I do).

Single file vs. multiple files per album is also a matter of personal preference and application acceptance. Some people find working with a single file for an album to be easier. (Personally, I've never understood this viewpoint.) Others find multiple files to be easier. Some applications can't split a multi-track single file using a cue sheet and most portable devices will dictate that you load individual tracks onto the device unless you want to listen to the whole album in a 40-75 minute long track.

Use mp3split to change your single file albums into standard files

I have a separate partition (and external HDD backup) for my MP3s. I have them listed out by Artist and then Album. It works well for me.




I have retagged and renamed everything the same. I remove all tags with the exception of
Track, Title, Album, Artist, Year
Album art has been embedded in each file, as well as exporting the folder.jpg to each album directory.

Filenames are all standardized as $num(%track%,2) - %title%
Tracks are all 1,2,3 instead of 01,02,03, or 01/12, 02,12,03/13 etc

I like it simple

All tags are written as ID3v1, ID3v2.3 (UTF-16) as I found issues in windows (Explorer and WMP) using ID3v2.4

I make sure to rewrite the ID3v1 tags because even though I chose to the Genre and delete existing ID3v1 tags, they still remained. Choosing to rewrite those v1 tags made sure the Genre was deleted.

I find my files very easy to sort and search the way they are set up.

Wow, thanks for the answers! :smiley:

Those are all great suggestions and I'll use them. I would only question the track numbering since a lot of different systems (software, etc) don't sort 1,2..10,11 correctly. I think that's why the 01 method is used even though it doesn't look as good.

Also, one more question. I've looked at the directory structure similar to yours used as default be different devices and software and I've yet to figure out how to handle multiple artists (Say Say Say), Shakira feat Wycliff Jean, and Led Zepplin, Rolling Stones and Bryan Adams all on one track. It totally screws up the sorting and directory structure. :frowning:

Any suggestions about how to handle that stuff without creating a bunch of duplicate tracks?

I'll give the above program above a try. Thanks for the link. It would solve my tagging issue.

There's only one album I would keep in single file mode for the "trip" :sunglasses: (Dark Side of the Moon), if you know what I mean. If you don't, you're too young.

I'll still split it out into singles as well for the kids.

Thanks again!

PS: ? for moderators (I don't know where to put this but if it is worthwhile maybe it could go in the faq). I've developed a method for converting album art using the suggestions in the support forum as well as some experimentation. I use the built-in export and import action functions.
In the middle I use IrfanView's batch mode to convert and resize (to jpeg) all the images at once. That way ALL software and devices are supported. Makes things a lot easier. I can supply a step by step if there's any demand by the portable device crowd. You could do the entire library at once! Wow, what a tool (mp3tag!).

I number tracks that same way within the tags. In fact, I make sure that track numbers always get forced to have no leading zeroes by using the Mp3tag function: $fmtNum(%track%). Of the applications that I've used, I haven't seen one that incorrectly sorted tracks tagged like this. For filenames, though, it's a different story. Most people begin their filenames with the track number, and it's a good idea to pad these with zeroes so that they're sorted correctly in a directory listing, no matter the operating system. In Mp3tag use: $num(%track%,2).

I don't understand why guest or featured artists would affect your directory structure. Most people use the concept of an 'album artist' and they file the album according to this main (album) artist. Where it gets ambiguous sometimes is when you have an album equally credited to two or more artists. For example, Raising Sand by Robert Plant and Alison Krause. Your basic choices are 1) pick one or the other, or 2) create an album artist (or band) of 'Robert Plant & Alison Krause' and create a separate artist folder for the artist. I have this album filed under Robert Plant, but someone like 'Simon & Garfunkel' has its own folder, even though I also have folders for the individual artists of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.

I think I understand the question you're asking and the best answer is probably that you cannot rely only on the directory structure for finding files. That's the whole point of painstakingly tagging your files in the first place. There are a lot of great library management/playback programs available (Winamp, foobar, J River and a many others, even iTunes) that will all let you find all tracks by a given artists as long as you've listed the artist in the file's tags.

Most playback software plays formats like FLAC with no gaps and also makes playing an entire album just as easy as playing single tracks from the album. Gapless playback of MP3s can be more problematic, which is just one good reason not to use MP3 for your main library.

BTW, here's a pretty in-depth poll and discussion of the subject:

The general question gets asked a lot in digital audio related forums, so you should be able to use google to find other discussions. A truly definitive answer isn't likely to emerge, although I think it's safe to say that the large majority of people use a basic /artist/album/track structure.

Then there's the question of naming the album folder and the track's filename. For the album folder, it's usually fairly straightforward, although one variation that is common (and actually has some practical use, IMO) is to begin the folder name with the album date, in the same way that you include track number in the filename, and for the same reason - so that a directory listing sorts the album folders into date order instead of alphabetical order. So you might have:

../1969 Santana/
../1970 Abraxas/
../1971 Santana III/
../1972 Caravanserai/
../1974 Lotus/

For filenames, many people (like myself) include the bare minimum - just track number and title. Others want to see artist name or album name in the filename. I do this only for compilation albums. For non-compilation albums, I figure that the artist is easily seen in the parent directory name.

../../01 Singing Winds, Crying Beasts.flac
../../02 Black Magic Woman - Gypsy Queen.flac
../../03 Oye Como Va.flac
/Various Artists/
../Great Ladies Sing the Blues/
../../01 Billie Holliday - Good Morning Heartache.flac
../../02 Ella Fitzgerald - Love For Sale.flac
../../03 Nina Simone - Trouble In Mind.flac

But one of the coolest thing about all of this is that Mp3tag makes is so easy to completely change the directory or filenaming conventions that you use. If you change your mind in a couple months about how you want files named, just create an Mp3tag action group and run it on your whole library.

Thanks for the answer!

I've since discovered itunescompilation, aka compilation in iTunes, that is "supposed" to handle this by putting these songs in a compilation folder. I don't understand it yet, but when I added the field to mp3tag, it wasn't very well behaved. I think it is just a binary flag...? I'll probably shelve it for now until I better understand how it is intended to be used better.

Again, this is for intended for portable devices, and I don't pretend to know how this stuff works. Those links at least gave me some ideas even if they weren't all that informative.

"...and even with mp3, it's why you don't use iTunes to actually "play" music back from a computer. But since we have iPhones.....

Well, I know I will eventually end up with two libraries. One for portable devices and one foobar for FLAC or some other lossless format, etc. Right now I'm just trying to get a multi-person, multi-operating system, multi-cell phone/portable music player master family library organized. I didn't have to do this when it was just my stuff... :frowning:

Oh, well, I'm so much better at this than I was a few days ago. It is getting a "little" easier! So eventually I'll tackle transferring all the vinyl and tape.

Once again, thanks for your input, every little bit helps the learning curve.

:smiley: Now we're talkin'. I had searched google and hydrogenaudio but I'm such a newb I struck out on the correct search terms. This helps a bunch!

I like the date thing and your directory structure.

I'm having issues with playlists because a lot of the collections we have are dated the date of the collection, and not the date of the original release, so I'm thinking of using the "original date" field. Right now, what I've been doing is writing over the date and album name with the original release information, but this is just a stop gap measure until I learn what I'm doing. But you know, it is such a shock to be listen to an 80's playlist and hear "Purple People Eater".... :wink:

As an example, I've got a 1986 tape of The Mamas & the Papas. And that date doesn't work to well in playlists and is really mis-information about the music.

Thanks again.

Here's some suggestions I think are important:

  1. Use the correct case when titling tracks/albums. Short words like "is", "the", "of", "a" and "and" are typically lower-case unless they are the first word in the title. For example: "This Is The Incorrect Title Of The Song" is incorrect; "This is the Correct Title of the Song" is correct.
  2. Never put the artist name in the title field. I have noticed a lot of people doing this for compilations. Instead, put the artist of the track in the ARTIST field, and "Various Artists" in the ALBUM ARTIST field.
  3. When a track/album begins with the words "The" or "A", some people move them to the end of the title following a comma. For instance if the track were called "The Best Track Ever", then you would change it to "Best Track Ever, The".

My 2 cents.