Q: I run iTunes on a desktop PC and I transfer albums to my iPod classic. I’m baffled by inconsistent “indexing” on the iPod with regard to Artists. The iTunes Artist usually appears not to be included in the iPod Artist list when the recording is a compilation by various artists, but it’s not always true. I have downloaded an Uncut Magazine CD and the iPod appears to recognize and include the individual Artists in the Artist view. Dozens of other compilations don’t work that way and I can’t retrieve certain Artists on the iPod because of this. Often I can’t remember the album or song name, so I just can’t find it. Conversely, I have ripped a variety of songs from my several albums by the Cajun band, BeauSoleil. These are not compilations. Even though the desktop iTunes sorts by this Artist name, BeauSoleil simply does not show up in the iPod list of Artists. I have a very large capacity on my iPod and over 9,000 songs, so it’s extremely frustrating not to be able to retrieve by Artist. Any suggestions?

– John

A: This is due to how the iPod handles the display of compilations and there’s actually some logic to it. First keep in mind that the iPod classic only looks at the “Part of a Compilation” flag when the “Compilations” menu option is enabled under the Settings, Main Menu or Settings, Music Menu options. On prior iPod models, there was a specific “Compilations” option to toggle this feature on or off separately.

If both of these menu options are turned OFF, then all artists will be displayed on the artist listing and the concept of Compilations is ignored by the iPod. If either menu item is enabled, then albums that contain tracks tagged as “Part of a Compilation” will be listed under the Compilations menu.

When Compilations are enabled, if all tracks by a given artist are labelled as “Part of a Compilation” then the Artist name is hidden entirely from the Artist listing. However, if a given artist has even a single track that is not tagged as “Part of a Compilation” then the artist’s name is shown in the Artist menu and all of the tracks by that artist will be shown under the Artist’s name, regardless of whether the individual tracks are listed as “Part of a Compilation” or not. Note that this differs from how compilation support behaved on earlier iPod models where tracks tagged as “Part of a Compilation” were never shown under the Artist menu, regardless of whether the Artist otherwise appeared there.

If you don’t regularly use the “Compilations” menu on your iPod classic, then the simplest solution may be to simply turn it off by going to your iPod Settings section and ensuring that it is unchecked under both the Main Menu and Music Menu sections. This will disable Compilation support on the iPod entirely, treating all tracks the same whether they are listed as “Part of a Compilation” or not.

Alternatively, you may want to double-check your “Part of a Compilation” tags in iTunes to ensure that your tracks are labelled as you would expect. Normally, albums where all tracks are by the same artist should not be tagged as “Part of a Compilation” but it’s not uncommon to see erroneous data come through from either the iTunes Store or the Gracenote CD Database that is used to automatically tag tracks imported from CD. It seems many mistakenly believe that the “Part of a Compilation” setting should be used for “Best of” albums and other collections that are not original studio albums, and therefore mistakenly apply this tag to single-artist collections.

Lastly, keep in mind that the iPod does have a Search feature that can be used to locate any artist or album on the device. The Search feature does not filter based on the “Part of a Compilation” flag regardless of whether Compilation support is enabled on the device or not. This should allow you to find artists who may not otherwise appear in the Artist browser.


Jesse Hollington was a Senior Editor at iLounge. He's written about Apple technology for nearly a decade and had been covering the industry since the early days of iLounge. In his role at iLounge, he provided daily news coverage, wrote and edited features and reviews, and was responsible for the overall quality of the site's content.