After avoiding iTunes for eleven years, I was finally convinced (partly by reading this article) that the ability to use AirPlay made it worthwhile ripping my CD/music collection to iTunes. What followed was a tale of frustration and hair pulling, so I’ve written down what I wished I knew BEFORE I started. This is the third of a series of articles and deals just with naming tracks/albums. I have a couple of supplementary tips that you might also like to check out: How to successfully rip an album/CD to iTunes; and How to transfer existing ripped music to iTunes
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If iTunes was not able to locate your CD via the Gracenote, (unlikely) or you find that the list of titles is not quite right (very likely), then the first thing then you should read the Gracenote FAQ before adding or editing your own titles. It is a long document, so I’ll cover the most important points here:
- Capitalise the first letter of each word, including articles (like A and The and Of). Rare exceptions might be artist names that always appear in all-caps or all-lowercase (such ABBA, NRBQ, k.d. lang, or eels). Note: Some people (like Brian Abbot and Stan Brown) don’t like this convention – especially the capitalisation of articles, but unless you want to spend a LOT of time editing your tracks, go with the flow and use capitals)
- If the album or track has a special attribute, such as a live recording or an extended version, include this information in brackets after the name – for example: Frampton Comes Alive! [Live] and Forever [Instrumental] or Forever [Extended Version] or Forever [Radio Edit]And I’ll add a couple of more of my own not from Gracenote
- The normal way to enter an artist’s name is as they are commonly known, such as The Beach Boys (NOT Beach Boys, The) or Katie Noonan (NOT Noonan, Katie). iTunes will sort these artists as you would expect – The Beach Boys come under “B” for Beach, and Katie Noonam comes under “K“.
- If the Artist name or CD Title or Track has accented characters, have enough respect for the artist to include the accented characters. For example, the CD set Purely Français showed up from Gracenote as Purely Francais – yet the album cover clearly has the cedilla under the letter c in Français.
- If the music is classical from a particular composer, you might want to consider setting the Album artist (NOT the track artist but the Album artist – I show you how in this post) to the composer’s name – such as Beethoven, Ludwig van. If you are not sure whether to record the name as Ludwig van Beethoven; Beethoven, Ludwig van; or simply Beethoven, then I have seen a convention that lists all variations separated by slashes, viz:Beethoven/ Beethoven, Ludwig van/Ludwig van Beethoven,
but I consider this as overkill
- If you have a lot of classical music, you may wish to abandon Gracenote altogether, and do your own – perhaps starting with Gracenote then editing. You’ll get some great tips from these articles: How I Organize Classical Music in iTunes and Taming iTunes & iPod for Classical Music
Another tack you could try is Windows Media Player (assuming you have access to a PC or can run a Windows Virtual Machine on your OS). You may find that when you insert the CD (or add a music file to the library), Windows Media Player actually finds the listing, even though iTunes (and Gracenote) couldn’t. You may even use this method to find missing album art too – see this section of my previous post
Take this example: I bought a CD a few years ago entitled “Enchanting Everglades” for $5 but didn’t list the tracks on the cover! (Even though the CD itself says “For track listing see cover for details”). The only information on the CD was that the album artist was Roland Tseng. A google search yielded no joy and here is what iTunes found when I inserted the CD
Note how every track is called “Enchanting Everglades”. That’s all it found!
While Windows Media Player found:
Not perfect, Roland Tseng isn’t mentioned, and some contributing artist called “The Sound Of Nature” appeared – possibly because the inside cover mentions “A beautiful blend of music and the Sounds of Nature” – oh well! In this case, I didn’t try to copy/paste the names – they were simple enough to type, but if you fail to get results any other way this is a way that might work for you too. I also clicked on the Submit CD Track Names option in iTunes too. According to Gracenote documentation, this information should now be publicly available in a couple of days. I’ll try again on another PC sometime and see if it is true!
Update [2 days later] It worked! I just inserted this CD in another PC, clicked on the Options tool and selected Get Track Names and voilà
However, it is very curious how some of the tracks have “Sounds of Nature” as the Artist!!! Mind you, it is a pretty weird album, with a lot of bird chirping, insect noises etc, so in many ways it is fair to attribute the artist “The Sounds of Nature”!!
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