Tagging Multi-Year Records

Hello, Hoping someone is willing to share their solution for tagging records that have several different years of release? In other words, if you have a compilation album that has several songs that were originally released in different years how to you tag that file?

An example would be a compilation that includes songs from 1965-1969. In my tag panel I now have a tag for year. If i insert 1965-1969 in the field it takes it but it seems that no matter where it is read (Jriver as an example) it always is displayed as "1965", dropping the "-1969". I think i would like to find a tag solution that would display reliably "1965-1969". Anyone run across this and come up with a solution? Any suggestion(s) would be appreciated, Tom

The display of tag fields is mostly a problem of the player (or the choice of it).

There are 2 fields for the year: YEAR and ORIGYEAR.
I use YEAR for the release year of the current medium and ORIGYEAR for the year of the first appearance.
These are standard fields in tags and I would then expect a player to show both.
if the player cannot do it, you have to find a local compromise.
Still, it is easier to merge data from a field structure to "abuse" another field that is used by the player than to add all data to an unstructured string in such a field.

has the problem of the "reliably". It would not be be reliable if you do not comply with the rules laid down in the standard and a year range is not standard.

Perhaps a player that allows you to select tracks from the collection with something like MP3tag's filter expressions would emulate the idea to show files that have been released between 1965 and 1969.
Foobar2000 would have such a filter syntax.

So, modifying the tag data hardly ever adds functions to the player.

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Thanks ohrenkino.


to "abuse" another field


Not sure i understand but this might be what i am looking for. If i am correct, you are saying that i could possibly modify an existing tag field, rename it and it would display my nonstandard 1965-1969? Or maybe i could create a tag like "YEARS" and add my 1965-1969 to that? I created a tag called "Years" as an experiment then added 1965-1969, i'll see if that works. (i'm just guessing as i am not sure how it works.)

Sorry for my ignorance on this subject (and my ignorance on creating a quote!)

PS- I have many, many box sets and currently i set the date to 1969 if the set is 1965-1969. But unfortunately this is, of course, not reflecting accurate information. I can think of no other solution, just trying find a workaround for this issue and wondering how others (I can't be the only one) deal with this issue.

If you find a player that can cope with user-defined fields, you have hit more or less the jackpot. There are hardly any (except e.g. foobar2000)

The "abuse" would be to either risk it and simply add the extra information to an existing field, ignoring what the ID3 standard says and simply try whether the player can cope with it.
But this would be a local solution that works with that player with which you have tried it and is not "reliable" to work with other players.

I would still fill as many of the structured fields (here: YEAR and ORIGYEAR) and then add that information perhaps to ALBUM like
"Greatest Rock'n'Roll Hits [1965-1969]"
where "1965" is data from ORIGYEAR and "1969" from YEAR - and if you find a special separation from the real album title then you can remove that, once you find a player that suits your requirements better.

I use Jriver media player and would like as a minimum to find a solution for it. As mentioned, i can't be the only one that has come across this issue. I appreciate your time, thank you. I created a tag called "Years" as an experiment then added 1965-1969, i'll see if that works. I tried adding the 1965-1969 to "YEAR" and it didn't work (only 1965 displayed). I'm hoping that YEAR is read by the player as a standard tag and the software is expecting 1965 and therefor refuses to display 1965-1969. Maybe if i create a new tag it won't expect a certain input and will display 1965-1969. Should it work i'll post it here for others that may have come across this issue.

According to the ID3 standard, YEAR (or the TYER tag) is a

frame as a numeric string with a year of the recording. This frames is always four characters long (until the year 10000).

The same is true for TORY (Original Year)

The 'Original release year' frame is intended for the year when the original recording, if for example the music in the file should be a cover of a previously released song, was released. The field is formatted as in the "TYER" frame.

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What you are seeing here is the typical action for this YEAR field within the structure of most players that limit this to a 4-digit integer, the spec actually starts at 1900 as a minimum. So adding a range like you have request go against that spec. Usually this is the reference to the original release year of that particular album. But this is personal preference whether you like to see it by the original or re-release year for different versions. Either way it should be consistent for the entire album, or you could experience other browsing anomalies, depending on the player.

The suggestion from @ohrenkino regarding the year by track for compilations is the ideal solution to keep your tags most accurate…

…but this field is not used by most of the standard players. So it may not yield any results for you.

Again working from the Album naming suggestion by @ohrenkino, you could instead do something similar using the track name to reflect a combination of the TITLE and [ORIGYEAR] so it would look like
This is the song name from a compilation [1965]

There is no perfect solution given your goal in the first post, so the thinking here is to come up with the next best option. Hopefully this gives you some ideas to work with.

First, as someone who has a lot of compilation albums, I generally don't put the year range anywhere if the artist hasn't either. It doesn't make any difference to me. If the Artist has put the year range in the title, which they often do, then it gets put in the ALBUM. "Greatest Hits 1974-1979". I do put the year it was released in the YEAR field.

Having said that, if you really want a year range, what I do is put the date range in the ALBUM, at the end, in Brackets.


If the artist puts the dates in the Album Title, I do that also:
Greatest Hits 1974-1980

If the artist doesn't, and I really want them, I add them in brackets:
Greatest Hits [1974-1980]

The YEAR field is always the year of release.


IMHO: Every compilation was released at a specific date in a specific year. Not during a 4 year time-range. The songs on this discs could have different original release years, but not the CD or LP itself, containing this songs.
In my collection the medias always get the release date tagged when they have been released, independently when the single songs was originally released.

A common example are the "Greatest Hits" releases. They appear years after the single songs have been published, in different versions. But the "Greatest Hits" album is always released at a specific date. This (more precisely the 4 year numbers) should be filled in the YEAR tag.

But as always: It's up to you how you want to organize your music. :wink:

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I would like to add:
It is really a pity that so few players support ORIGYEAR.
The lack of this support leads to the ugly effect that on and the same song by an artist shows up in different years, depending on when the corresponding medium is released.

E.g. the "The Beatles Greatest Hits 1962-1966", released in 1973 which has "Love me do" from 1962 just like the compilation "1" from 2000, a year when the Beatles did not even exist any more...
So it's a mess.
If you want to see all tracks of the same version together when sorting by year, then the data from ORIGYEAR would be the more accurate - but this is displayed by hardly any player.
An the next question with all the "abused" fields like title or album with added year data ... does the player allow to filter for such pieces of information?

And then there would still be the question of what should be in ORIGYEAR:

  • the recording date of the title in the studio
  • the release year of the title as a single
  • the release year of the ttitle on an album
  • the release year of this exact version of the title if there are other versions
    and so on and so on

This really does come down to personal preference. I think it is the one field that really has this much variation from the intended action, and the lack of support for ORIGYEAR really amplifies this. If the accuracy of the media release is more critical, which it is for me, that is what is used. I guess if it more important to have accuracy to the release of the original date by song, that is what one would use in YEAR - but this is at the risk of having some player libraries misbehaving if the year field is expected to remain a constant by Album. Maybe someday all players will add support for the ORIGYEAR field and all will be perfect in our universe. :joy:

I use:

DATE (YEAR)    -- the composing year YYYY
TIME           -- the recording date YYYY.MM.DD. ***
ALBUMDATE      -- common date for the album (the latest recording date) YYYY.MM.DD.
PUBLISHINGDATE -- the date of this real publication YYYY.MM.DD.

*** The first 2 fields i use because of the id3v2.3 standard in mp3 files. Other: as a recording date i always use REAL (=as early as possible) recording date. And i leave it unchanged in the remixes as well, since the recording is the same.

In foobar, in panel with the component SimPlaylist, for easy music (for example) i sort by

%album artist%$if3(%albumdate%,%publishingdate%,[%date%.01.01.],[ %catalog%])%album%|%tracknumber%|%title%|%path%

and use (among others) a column

%title%[<<< %track artist%>>>]
<<[$if($meta_test(albumdate,date),$ifequal(%date%,$left(%albumdate%,4),, %date%),)

Thank you all, greatly helpful!
Of course personal preference rules all. At this late date (over 20,000 records) i'll have to stick with some original decisions. I use Jriver media center (in theater view). Early on i decided to use the YEAR field for the actual year the music was recorded. My thinking was/is, anyone interested in info for the current song playing would simply look at the screen (55inch in this case) and would be able to see the year the music was created/made at a glance. Again, my opinion... i feel as though the first thought is to know when a song was recorded/created. I personally never think initially, "when did the record company decide to release this recording?" (compilation, re-master, re-issue, etc.). I add the release date in the first line of the comments/notes field just before the review/bio info. I have learned that Jriver does allow for some custom tweaking that would allow me to do what i'd like, but that takes me even further away from standard. So i think, for now, i'm going to go with adding the date range after the album title. This is not ideal, but the goal is to get the most desired info displayed first for the casual listener. When i am unsure of the songs actual year of release (compilations with a range of dates) i can just leave YEAR empty and rely on the modified album name. Not ideal but re-tagging thousands of records doesn't sound like a lot of fun!

Thanks again, Tom

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