Correcting tags on CD import

Jesse Hollington
By Jesse Hollington  - Senior Editor
Correcting tags on CD import

Q: I am a complete iPod novice and I am the wrong side of 50. However, I like my music and have recently purchased the iPod classic. I have been putting some favourite albums on, such as Motown Greatest Hits – the Isley Brothers. Some of the albums have gone on under the Compilations section (even though they are not compilations) and, although it is listing the Isley Brothers as the Artist, it is not listing The Isley Brothers under artists category on my iPod. I can only find it under albums on my iPod. This is also happening to a few other CD’s such as Otis Reading. Is this because the CD’s are old?  Also, do I have to subscribe to Itunes to get the album art and , if so, what is the cost for each piece of album art?

– Suzy

Correcting tags on CD import

A: When you insert a CD to import into your iTunes library, iTunes looks up the CD track information from an online CD database (CDDB) that has been built up by user contributions over the years.

Since this database is based on user-submitted data, it’s not uncommon for the “Part of a Compilation” flag to be set on albums that in reality do not require this option. In fact, there’s a mistaken impression among many novice Gracenote CDDB contributors that the “Compilation” option refers to things like “Greatest Hits” albums (ie, “compilations” of an artist’s work), rather than its intended purpose of identifying albums that have more than one artist (ie, “Various Artists” albums).

The “Compilations” feature in iTunes and on the iPod is primarily intended to group these types of albums into a separate listing while also filtering out “one-hit-wonders”—artists that may only have done a single track on a movie soundtrack, for instance, and therefore don’t deserve a place in your “Artists” listing.

Fortunately, even if the CD Database supplies the “Compilation” information incorrectly, you can easily adjust this yourself before importing the CD. When you insert the CD and are prompted by iTunes to import it, select “No” and you will be shown a listing of the tracks on the CD, with the information for them that was supplied from CDDB. You can then modify this track information prior to actually importing the CD. This can also be useful if information like track names or artist names are spelled incorrectly (again, CDDB is a user-contributed database, so it’s not uncommon to see typographical errors show up from time to time).

To modify the CD track information prior to import, simply insert the CD into your computer and response “No” if iTunes prompts you to automatically import the tracks. Instead of immediately importing the CD, you will see a listing of the CD tracks, and can then modify the information and/or select or unselect individual tracks before importing the CD.

To modify the “Compilation” flag, simply select all of the tracks by choosing Edit, Select All, and then once all tracks are highlighted, edit their properties by choosing File, Get Info:

Correcting tags on CD import

In the bottom-left corner of the file info dialog, you will see the “Compilation” setting. Simply set this to “No” and click OK (you can also modify any other album-related information here that you may want to change, such as the album title or artist name).

Once you’ve adjusted your settings, simply click on the “Import CD” button in the bottom-right corner of the iTunes window to actually import the CD. The tracks will be created with the information that you have filled in, including the “Compilation” option being turned off.

You can also submit any changes you’ve made to the CDDB system yourself, thus helping to correct errors that you may encounter.

By Jesse Hollington Senior Editor
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.