Organising Various Artist albums?

I use dBPowerAMP, foobar2k, flac, mp3, a Sansa Clip and Clip Zip, and a player where the only option is to browse folders+files.

I'm trying to get everything organised to work well on all these things. I've pulled out some things that need to be separate so they're easy to find or ignore (e.g. Christmas albums, Children's music, Audiobooks), and I'm listing classical by composer (bodged into the artist tags so I can see that info on everything) but I'm intending to list everything else by album artist, with a _compilations folder at the top of that list (compilation=1 and/or albumartist=Various Artists gets something put into that folder). Within the compilations folder, everything is ordered by album title.

The "problem" is that there are a lot of albums in the compilations folder! It's like it needs sub-folders, e.g. "/Now That's What I Call Music! Albums". I'm almost tempted to put albumartist=Now Albums, or albumartist=Various Artists - Now Albums, but I'm guessing that would break a lot of players and they'd no longer realise it was a compilation just from the compilation=1 flag.

I've searched around and seen various tagging examples for multi-artist Various Artist albums, but haven't found a discussion of how to segment Various Artist albums when there are too many of them. I know some people use Genres, but I don't want to. There are always corner cases meaning I wouldn't know where something was filed.

What do other people do?


If there is a set of many albums I use subfolders and create my own non-standard tag to define the set.
e.g. there is a set of 100 Various Artists Albums called "Jazz In the Charts".
I create a subfolder "Jazz in the charts" and 100 subfolders for the separate CDs named like this:
"Jazz In The Charts Vol. 11 - Shine On, Harvest moon".

My album tag is: Jazz In The Charts Vol. 11 - Shine On, Harvest moon
My self definded Set-Tag is: Jazz in the charts

I think it is much easier: you only have to take care that the ALBUMARTIST is the same for an ALBUM - the COMPILATION flag is not yet such a widespread standard that it works foolproof.
The ALBUMARTIST, though, creates groups.
I use self-made compilation ALBUMARTISTs to get the grouping, e.g. "Sampler Jazz" or "Café Del Mar" or "Sampler Punk".
This then does not temper with any predefined fields like GENRE, leaves the album title as it is (and therefore recognizable).
Any information that does not discriminate a piece of information from other pieces of information is no information. So, if all compilations have "Various Artists" you could just as well leave it out. And you deprive yourself of a useful field that is supported by a lot of players.

How many VA albums do you have? I have 86 in my library and don't worry too much that this is too many to browse. But I could see that if it grew significantly I might want to segment it somehow. Right now I don't even separate Christmas albums.

As far as tagging, I tag my Flac albums and Mp3 albums intended for my portable players somewhat differently. This is dictated primarily by the playback/library software. On my portable players (Sansa Fuze v2 and Sansa Clip Zip) I run Rockbox, which doesn't recognize the COMPILATION field, nor does it recognize SORT fields such as ARTISTSORT or ALBUMSORT. So if they're, going to be segmented, then it's going to have to be done using the ALBUMARTIST field.

I use the ! character the way you use the _ character. I've found that it more consistently sorts to the top of lists (! is ASCII 33, _ is ASCII 95). Since my folders are organized by album artist, I would use something like the following for both the ALBUMARTIST and the folder names:

! Christmas Compilations
! Now That's What I Call Music
! Various Artists

As far as logically separating them much beyond that... that's a difficult one. I've always found genres to be only marginally useful. I think when I first started organizing my music I separated soundtracks from other VA albums, but eventually that made no sense because of the variation in how soundtracks are compiled. Some are all songs of a single genre from a period, some have vastly different songs, and some are all by a single composer.

Thank you all.

That is a very helpful tip - thank you.

The goal (isn't it always?) is that I (or with a little bit of training, anyone) should be able to unambiguously know where to look for something - whether file browsing, or using tags. Therefore whatever I do to group some VA-albums can move them into a sub-folder, but not into a different part of the tree or to a different alpha-sort location unless that's completely logical and predictable. This means, if I only had one Now album, it should end up in basically the same place as the group of 40 of them. No one should need to know how many Now albums I have before going looking for them! :slight_smile: The secondary goal is that lists of things shouldn't be unnecessarily long.

poster's idea is useful. It certainly solves it for file browsing.

ohrenkino - but Various Artists is a useful piece of information, I think - it groups all the various artist albums together. I think I find that useful, though I never bothered with my physical CDs - the Now albums sit under N, next to No Doubt. The files could do that too, I guess. It just seems an obvious distinction that's helpful when sorting things. Then you get the difficulty of sorting within them, and your idea helps with tag browsing. It's a dilemma :wink:

I think I'll sleep on this one.