Album Artist on iPod

Q: I have several CDs that have guest artists featured with the main artist in several songs on the album. I’d like to list both artists such that either one would show up in a search. For example, I have a song which is sung by both Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra, and I list the artist as “Tony Bennett & Frank Sinatra.” This way, either artist will appear when I search in iTunes.

The problem is that on my iPod, if I select Tony Bennett as the artist I want to play, “Tony Bennett & Frank Sinatra” is considered a different artist, so that song will not play in the group. If I define the whole album as a “Compilation”, the tracks stay together on the iPod, but in an entirely different menu. Is there any way around this silly, annoying issue?

– Patrick

A: Unfortunately, no.

However, there is a bit of hope for the future: iTunes 7 just made available an “Album Artist” field to all tracks in your computer’s library, which accomplishes exactly what you want—it links songs together as an album, when the artist tags aren’t exactly the same, and when the album is not technically a Compilation. For example, in your case, you’d tag the arist field of the tracks as you currently are (“Tony Bennett with Frank Sinatra”), while tagging the Album Artist field with “Tony Bennett,” linking this track with the rest of his.

The new feature makes the proper organization, tagging, and browsing of such albums much better in iTunes, but unfortunately, the iPod cannot yet make use of this “Album Artist” tag.