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'Phantom' albums in iTunes and how to get rid of them


Daudio

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Rather then go seriously 'Off Topic' in the 'very good article in The Atlantic on Classical music and the mess digital tagging has done to it.' thread, I'm starting a new one to deal with this difficult iTunes issue.

 

To catch up with what was said before:

 

 

... Then there's iTunes on either Mac or Windows. How about some rips simply refuse to show the artwork even when you physically placed the correct JPEG in the artwork window! How about how some albums show up on one's WiFi music server client or onto one's sync'd iPod with two copies of each song! Go into iTunes and it doesn't show any duplicates. Or, how about when iTunes arbitrarily breaks a single ripped album into two or more separate albums. The worst part is there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason for many of these puzzling actions. Not only is there no seeming reason for it, but no solutions either. Maddening...

 

 

... Another concern is about "iTunes arbitrarily breaks a single ripped album into two or more separate albums," which has never never happened to me over 2000 albums. Now here I have to be vigilant when ripping or downloading new albums, and I always double-check metadata before importing or right after importing. Could it be, George, that the "single ripped album" is a compilation -- meaning simply that the artist is not the same on all the tracks -- but the compilation checkbox is not set to "yes"? ...

Yes, all this can be maddening. Or, more so from my POV, it's just a bunch of detail work. Now having been an editor and writer most of my life, this kind of detail work comes naturally, and I understand how others either hate it or are simply not all that skilled at it. And in that sense, computer audio has a long way to go before all these metadata details are automated.

 

But if one is painstaking, some problems never occur or, if they do, are easy to find and fix...

 

 

George,

...

I can see where people can have problems with albums showing up in multiples. I struggled with it until I learned that the 'Album', 'Artist', 'Artwork', and 'Compilation' flag all have to be the same to work together and end up with only one instance of an album showing in iTunes. I like to collapse multi-disk albums into one, which means making every tracks 'Album' name exactly the same. Then I discover that some of the 'Artist' fields have different names, as in "Foobar featuring Bilbo", instead of just "Foobar". I cut out the guest name from 'Artist' and paste it onto the end of the 'Track Name', so ALL the 'Artist' names are the same throughout all tracks in my expanded album. The Compilation flag can be set to avoid this, but I don't like my albums hiding in the 'iTunes/Music&Media/ Compilations' folder unless they absolutely have to be. And I hate scrolling through my iTunes library 'Artist' folders and seeing a bunch of variations of an artist name (spelling, punctuation, guest artists, whatever) It bugs me enough to go back to the iTunes metadata editor and fix it !

Oh, and the artwork has to be the same too, in all those tracks metadata.

I have chased down some damn weird problems in this regard, some taking a good long time to find some problem(s) and get it right, but then I always seem to be messing with metadata, and once I learned how to do it right, and finally got things setup right, it stays the same, so I can't blame iTunes (much as I would like to !).

 

It helps me to display the multiple instances in the album art thumbnail(?) mode, then click each 'album' open to see which tracks it contains, to point to the problem areas to be fixed.

 

oops, I seem to have gone off topic... PM or start a new thread if you'd like more on this subject.

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Ok, That is where I left off, so to carry on, and get going with this thread:

(but first a few little OT items to deal with)

 

Well there's no doubt that Windows is garbage - the worst OS there is (even Linux is better), but it's what I've got for my computer-based music, so there it is.

 

George,

Before you bitch too loud, you know you have options, right ?

 

 

That's how I do it as well. I finally got album art for all of my ripped CDs save one: The new Reference Recording of Saint-Saens Organ Symphony (#3) I went to Amazon, copied the cover art jpg to my desktop and placed it in the artwork field of the album using the "get artwork" button in the "info" dialog, and it just refuses to show up in place of the generic musical note. There doesn't seem to anything wrong with the rip. It plays perfectly. I've tried every way I can think of to transfer that artwork to iTunes, but it just won't take....

 

Why bother with the desktop ? In any web page, you can right-click on an image for a contextual menu with a "Copy Image" command. That puts the picture data in your clipboard. Now bring up the "Get Info" for the entire album, select the artwork box, and do a control-V (or command-V on Mac) keystroke, or use the "Edit", "Paste" menu command. The image is now in the iTunes metadata editor and will be saved in all the track files when you click the "OK", or press enter.

 

This is what both cycleman and I do all the time without any problems. Please give it a try exactly as stated, and it will work for you too. maybe it's something with Windows and images on the desktop ? Plus, there is no file cleanup involved in our procedure :)

 

 

OK, now back to the Topic of the thread:

 

... While what you say is true about 'Album', 'Artist', 'Artwork', and 'Compilation' flags all having to be the same to work together and end up with only one instance of an album showing in iTunes, it doesn't always work that way. I have a three-CD set that I imported as 48 contiguous tracks. For some reason, iTunes insists on showing tracks 1-34 as one album and tracks 35-48 as another. Everything in the two "albums'" info fields is exactly the same, yet it refuses to consolidate all 48 files. Anything I do to alter that arrangement ends up with more than two albums. One cut has gotten separated into a third album (all with the same album name) and nothing that I do will coax it back into the fold. So, now, instead of having two albums of the same name, now I have three, and one of them has only one cut on it! It's enough to drive one crazy. Why does it have to be so difficult?

 

 

Not only 'Album', 'Artist', 'Artwork', and 'Part of a Compilation' all have to be the exact same values. But also 'Album Artist', and I believe all the 'Sort Album', 'Sort Artist', 'Sort Album Artist' fields too. I don't use these last 4 fields, but others have told me that they are part of iTunes cute little calculations on how it displays albums :(

 

When I said "exact same values" I meant exact. I've had problems with almost invisible changes in punctuation marks, and even a space after a name ! ("foobar" vs "foobar "). These can be difficult to find, but yield to patience and perseverance. Occasionally I will accidentally neglect to select all of the tracks to make album data changes, and the neglected one will display separately. I have watched a certain field as I moved from track to track with the "Next" and "Previous" buttons, and a difference can be noticed that way. I was shocked to find a couple of albums that had different values for the "Compilation" flag amongst their tracks, right out of the GraceNote db !! But shit happens, and we get to clean it up. All in the name of a music library we can be proud of (as much as possible, that is, given the primitive metadata fields we have to work with).

 

I think I previously mentioned (but didn't quote) using the "Album List" view to see what tracks appear in the different 'versions' of a split album, to get clues to what is making iTunes split the album display into multiples.

 

What I'm trying to get across to you is that, crazy as the rules seem, it is NOT iTunes fault*. It is OUR job to learn the rules, to discover and to fix the problem data. I have done that in my almost 1TB library, cycleman (also Dave :) has done it, and you can too ! And I'll be glad to help you get to that point if I can.

 

 

* OK that is debatable, but placing blame won't fix the problem :)

 

 

Does that make sense to you ?

 

Anyone else having anything like these iTunes issues and doesn't get it ?

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Ok, That is where I left off, so to carry on, and get going with this thread:

(but first a few little OT items to deal with)

 

 

 

George,

Before you bitch too loud, you know you have options, right ?

 

 

 

 

Why bother with the desktop ? In any web page, you can right-click on an image for a contextual menu with a "Copy Image" command. That puts the picture data in your clipboard. Now bring up the "Get Info" for the entire album, select the artwork box, and do a control-V (or command-V on Mac) keystroke, or use the "Edit", "Paste" menu command. The image is now in the iTunes metadata editor and will be saved in all the track files when you click the "OK", or press enter.

 

I've done that too! I've tried every way to get that album art to be taken by the iTunes rip of the Reference Recording of Saint-Saens Organ Symphony. Nothing works. Every other rip I have I was able to assign artwork to, but not this one.

 

This is what both cycleman and I do all the time without any problems. Please give it a try exactly as stated, and it will work for you too. maybe it's something with Windows and images on the desktop ?

 

Let's make sure that we're on the same page, here. I use JRiver on Windows for my hi-res stuff because I don't have the Mac version and my Windows laptop is connected to my stereo directly via USB. But, iTunes I use on my Mac. It connects to my main stereo system via WiFi through my Logitech Squeezebox Touch and the Logitech Media Server software.

 

Plus, there is no file cleanup involved in our procedure :)

 

 

OK, now back to the Topic of the thread:

 

 

 

 

Not only 'Album', 'Artist', 'Artwork', and 'Part of a Compilation' all have to be the exact same values. But also 'Album Artist', and I believe all the 'Sort Album', 'Sort Artist', 'Sort Album Artist' fields too. I don't use these last 4 fields, but others have told me that they are part of iTunes cute little calculations on how it displays albums :(

 

Yes, this is correct. they all have to have exactly the same info for an album to show-up as a single iteration and even so, that doesn't always work either!

 

When I said "exact same values" I meant exact. I've had problems with almost invisible changes in punctuation marks, and even a space after a name ! ("foobar" vs "foobar "). These can be difficult to find, but yield to patience and perseverance. Occasionally I will accidentally neglect to select all of the tracks to make album data changes, and the neglected one will display separately. I have watched a certain field as I moved from track to track with the "Next" and "Previous" buttons, and a difference can be noticed that way. I was shocked to find a couple of albums that had different values for the "Compilation" flag amongst their tracks, right out of the GraceNote db !! But shit happens, and we get to clean it up. All in the name of a music library we can be proud of (as much as possible, that is, given the primitive metadata fields we have to work with).

 

Correct. Sometimes the differences are impossible to find even when you grab screen shots of the "info" windows and line them all up on the same page!

 

I think I previously mentioned (but didn't quote) using the "Album List" view to see what tracks appear in the different 'versions' of a split album, to get clues to what is making iTunes split the album display into multiples.

 

Yes, I know about that too!

 

What I'm trying to get across to you is that, crazy as the rules seem, it is NOT iTunes fault*. It is OUR job to learn the rules, to discover and to fix the problem data. I have done that in my almost 1TB library, cycleman (also Dave :) has done it, and you can too ! And I'll be glad to help you get to that point if I can.

 

You are, of course correct, but I still have the question: why did (does) Apple continue to make ripping discs for iTunes so difficult? Like you said in another thread: this stuff should be so simple for computers to do correctly and easily.

 

 

* OK that is debatable, but placing blame won't fix the problem :)

 

 

Does that make sense to you ?

 

Anyone else having anything like these iTunes issues and doesn't get it ?

 

Of course it makes sense to me. What doesn't make sense to me is why it still doesn't work when you have crossed all the 'Ts' and dotted all the 'Is'!

George

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Hmmmm…

 

Could you have some duplicate files ? Check out the albums folder in the Finder, and see if there are any weird files. I think I've run into issues like that before.

 

Do you have a 'Missing Artwork' Smart Playlist ? I find weird stuff in mine sometimes, in addition to have a place to new album rips to accumulate until I get around to updating the Artwork fields.

 

What is the relationship between your iTunes library, and your GRiver library ? Are they two separate systems, digital and analog, or just digital, or what ?

 

---------------------

 

iTunes Library management and playback control are database driven using a superset of track metadata with customizable views and an editor (for some fields). I worked on similar applications before I retired. I can see the database underlying the interface and functions. And, done a lot of messing around with large amounts of data, both manually and programatically. So, I guess I have a positive attitude when approaching my iTunes music library management, not to mention almost 5 years of working on it, and maybe a sometimes obsessive attention to detail: which is not so hard as it may seem, when you consider I'm listening to good music the entire time ! :)

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Hmmmm…

 

Could you have some duplicate files ? Check out the albums folder in the Finder, and see if there are any weird files. I think I've run into issues like that before.

 

Do you have a 'Missing Artwork' Smart Playlist ? I find weird stuff in mine sometimes, in addition to have a place to new album rips to accumulate until I get around to updating the Artwork fields.

 

What is the relationship between your iTunes library, and your GRiver library ? Are they two separate systems, digital and analog, or just digital, or what ?

 

They are two totally different systems. The Mac and the iTunes library is accessed via WiFi, and the Windows laptop/JRiver Media Player high-res library is accessed via USB direct connection. And I have checked for duplicate files and there are none that I can see.

 

---------------------

 

iTunes Library management and playback control are database driven using a superset of track metadata with customizable views and an editor (for some fields). I worked on similar applications before I retired. I can see the database underlying the interface and functions. And, done a lot of messing around with large amounts of data, both manually and programatically. So, I guess I have a positive attitude when approaching my iTunes music library management, not to mention almost 5 years of working on it, and maybe a sometimes obsessive attention to detail: which is not so hard as it may seem, when you consider I'm listening to good music the entire time ! :)

 

Computer stuff is only difficult when it doesn't work like it's supposed to work, and you can't figure out why! :)

George

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Computer stuff is only difficult when it doesn't work like it's supposed to work, and you can't figure out why! :)

 

I don't know, I figure it's difficult while you're having to get it to work (or damn well know the reason why!). That gets me away from what I'm trying to do with the app.

 

Ok, it's time for you to cough up some details; your software versions, hardware, what you've done so far, any suspicions ? any other anomalous behavior in your library ? have you done systematic cleaning of your metadata ?

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