HOW TO re-tag your collection now that Musicbrainz have changed ALBUM ARTIST

MusicBrainz have lately changed how the »Album Artist« is stored in the tags by their Picard Tagger:

  • ID3v2: TPE2 ("BAND")
  • Vorbis Comment (FLAC, OGG): ALBUMARTIST
  • APEv2: Album Artist
  • iTunes MP4: aART
  • Windows Media (WMA): WM/AlbumArtist
This presents many of us with the problem of re-tagging the "old" files we have, in order to stay compatible and/or have everything tagged in the same way. Also, even if it's "wrong" according to the ID3 specs, iTunes, Winamp, Mp3tag and Logitech's SqueezeCenter (can) use TPE2 ("Band") as "Album Artist" in ID3v2 tags.

In earlier times, MusicBrainz' Picard Tagger used "TXXX:MusicBrainz Album Artist" in ID3v2 tags and "MUSICBRAINZ_ALBUMARTIST" in Vorbis Comment tags (FLAC, OGG).

So I needed to come up with an "action set" set would automatically set the correct tags (and get rid of the old ones) on my 25,000 file library, consisting of FLAC, MP3, OGG and a few WMA files. I decided to go with the "mainstream" and also use TPE2 ("BAND") meaning "Album Artist" in ID3v2 tags (MP3 files), but only if TPE2 wasn't already set (some albums I have use a real "Band" tag).

The action set I made up for this will

  • work for FLAC (Vorbis Comment), OGG (Vorbis Comment), MP3 (ID3v2.x), and WMA files.
  • set ALBUMARTIST in FLAC and OGG files from either "MusicBrainz Album Artist" or "MUSICBRAINZ_ALBUMARTIST" (whichever exists), if it is not already set (no change in that case). Then it will delete the obsolete tag frames.
  • set TPE2 ("BAND") in MP3 files from either "MusicBrainz Album Artist" or "MUSICBRAINZ_ALBUMARTIST" (whichever exists), if it is not already set (no change in this case). If TPE2 is already set (maybe with a real Band) and different from the Album Artist, it will create an additional "TXXX:ALBUMARTIST" tag frame. Then it will delete the obsolete tag frames.
  • set WM/AlbumArtist in WMA files from either "MusicBrainz Album Artist" or "MUSICBRAINZ_ALBUMARTIST" (whichever exists). Then it will delete the obsolete tag frames.
You need to copy the attached action into the folder where your actions live, normally
which is usually something like the following
C:\Documents and Settings\yourname\Application Data\Mp3tag\data\actions</b>
C:\Dokumente und Einstellungen\deinName\Anwendungsdaten\Mp3tag\data\actions</b>
or the like (a little different on Vista and Windows 7).

Please make a backup before and try it out on some representative copies of your real files before! — I can’t take any responsibility for your valuable data being modified in a way that you probably didn’t want.

Enjoy, and feel free to modify to suit your needs!


Just FYI: I did the »big one« a few days ago: Ran it over my ~25,000 file collection consisting of MP3, FLAC, OGG, and one WMA file(s). All went as intended, no errors. (Took a while though—11,488 were modified because they still used the older »MusicBrainz Album Artist« frames.)

N.B.: For foobar2000 lovers, the above can of course be easily modified to create »ALBUM ARTIST« (with a blank) instead of »ALBUMARTIST« (no blank).

I ran this action against a couple of files with missing BAND but it didn't work... No files were modified.

I guess I need add that I tried to fill missing Band from Artist field, but miss-understood what script does. The action syntax is somwhat aukward, so gonna take some time for me to figure out...