How do you tag and sort box collections?

As it happens, sometimes multiple albums are released together as a named box, like Black Sabbath’s Black Box from Rhino or any band with a The Complete Studio Recordings-box. I’m just curious about how you would use tags and folders to sort this in your folder system. Using Black Sabbath again, if I, for example, have two versions already of Paranoid, would you extract this album from the Black Box and have it listed with/in a folder just next to the other two, or would you keep the two in their respective folder and have the Black Box as a separate folder?
Also, what tags would you use to name the Black Box? The comment? Grouping? Directly after the album title?

Just curious to hear how you all do this!

You’re absolutely right; there’s not a single answer, hence my question :slight_smile: I enjoy reading about other’s way of sorting and dealing with these issues, I learn a lot from it and occasionally change the way I do it myself.


I use KODI and there is a dev actively working on boxsets now. MusicBrainz makes no distinction between a normal multi-disc album or a huge re-release boxset like The Complete Studio Recordings. So the only “correct” tagging gives you a huge album which media players then don’t know what to do with.

The KODI dev is making use of the Disc Subtitles as part of spotting boxsets.

The code hasn’t been release yet, but KODI has already done a better job of splitting these kinds of release up into separately selectable discs to make it easier to playback. Including allowing separate artwork for those discs.

But that is only one media player solution.

For a more generic answer:

With some boxsets this could be solved by tagging your music as the separate albums - but then you are stuck if there is an “extra disc” in the box. Or if those separate albums have extras as you are not allowed to add the single disks separately to MusicBrainz.

What I have previously done is to change my Album Title in Picard to include the subtitle. That then lets older media players treat each disc as a separate entity to list.
(I have a script for this on another PC I can dig out later if you want it)


Thanks, interesting read!!:smile:
If you happen to find the script I’d be interested (and possibly future reader of the thread), but don’t put too much effort in it!

I’m no script expert, so this is just a manual thing I throw in and toggle on\off if I need it. No real intelligence to this.

$set(_album, %album%) 
$set(album,$if($and($ne($upper(%discsubtitle%),$upper($album%)),%discsubtitle%),%album%: %discsubtitle%,%album%))

That should then give you a title like: The Complete Studio Recordings : Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

(Guessing names that are in probably in this boxset)

I’ll also manually override what Picard is going to call an album.


Thanks, @IvanDobsky, very useful! I will think through how I tag boxsets!

I keep them in separate folders and disambiguate using the release group disambiguation and the medium description. Taking the “Paranoid” 2009 UK release, this would give me these folders:

Black Sabbath/
    Black Sabbath - Paranoid (2009 album, GB)/
        CD 1: Original Album 1970/
        CD 2: Bonus Tracks/

I use the same logic for box sets, like Klaus Schulze’s Ultimate Edition, a 50-CD box set!

I may use unorthodox scripting and filenaming scripts, but if you’re interested, let me know.

See also: How does Picard handle saving album releases of different countries?
Find the full script here: Repository for neat file name string patterns and tagger script snippets

1 Like

Without getting too locked up with hairsplitting the details:

Phonograph, Grahpophone … Record, Cylinder, whatever. The device that holds the medium on which the audio is stored.

The disc (flat, pressed disc) was the distribution method that became the defacto standard distribution medium due to many properties.

• It’s easy to manufacture.
Think monkey and symbols- Every clap and there’s another positive copy for aural transcription via the phonograph. A Stylus is an implement used to inscribe, so why the playback head is referred to as that is another bag of worms. Yes, technically, the needle can also inscribe, if it had more rigidity and was being applied against a pliable surface, whatever that that leads to the end product to which we have come to know as the term ‘record’. They are made of commonly used materials of the era. Shellac, Bakelite, Polyvinyl Chloride (Vinyl) … to name a few.

Each track typically came on a separate medium originally.

With the wide spread use of the flat disc medium for distribution, to include more than one disc (again, a disc representing a single track, per side which lead to a set of related recordings distributed together in as a single unit. As such, these were held together at one end and bound together with a hard cover on the outside. A book of pages for presentation of photographs … an album. Pretty much the same thing, so we’ll just use that term too.

An album, the original “box set” :wink: …as opposed to the “single” release.

Since the term “album” when used in reference to a grouped set of individual tracks meant to be distributed together.

Manufacturing gets better, tolerances get finer and that leads to ‘compression’, (not quite the same meaning as what we think of as digital compression). Basically, they can rotate that thing slower, together with a tighter tolerance, a more efficient use of the medium, more can be placed on the same amount of physical medium.

A collection of tracks while originally were presented in an album form, the term album stuck with it as the medium use got more efficient over the years. Otherwise it was a single .

A more modern record would render a longer duration of aural playback… it played for a longer time. Long Play.

Hence, a single medium with several tracks is a Long Play format, LP for short. Still distributed on the same type of medium, so it still gets called vinyl. So you have both terms to refer to.

Introduce other methods of medium into the mix and at the end of the day a set of tracks included together would still be referred to as an “album” as opposed to a single recording, which by design also provided additional storage capacity, so while the medium can hold two tracks, it’s still a “single”.

It’s like getting extra innings in baseball. Your ticket was for 9, you got 18. A double feature! Two for the price of one!

An album is not limited to a single piece of medium, despite the fact that advances in manufacturing lead to that happening.

While the methods of manufacturing got more efficient the terms / meanings still mean the same thing.


The medium changes and the terminology will evolve along with it. Things evolve until they reach a point of maturity where they’re so common that a term applied to it is interpreted differently based on the surrounding words.

Joker. Batman’s nemesis? The annoying kid that shoots spit wads from the back of the classroom, a playing card with a goofy kind of clown like character on it?

It’s all three, and more!

So an album is a group of tracks.
Albums in their most common form were distributed on a single piece of medium.
The medium was vinyl.

So when the subject is music distribution and the most common medium was the 12 inch disc. If someone said I’m getting an album when the topic was music, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that it means a 12 inch 33-1/3rd RPM disc.

That was the standard definition. Anything else and you’d include the medium. e.g. I got it on cassette!

The Compact Disc was the next major medium change and is well into it’s waning stages but it’s probably not going anywhere for a long time as it’s still a cheap method of physical distribution.

“I just got their new album!”. If a kid says it, you can be sure it’s probably digital. It’s hardly an “album” anymore at all. But with the subject of music, an album means a group of tracks.

Regardless of the amount of physical medium pieces when not in digital form, I see an Album as a set of tracks released together.

Black Sabbath/
     Black Sabbath - Paranoid (2009 album, GB)/
          CD 1: Original Album 1970/
          CD 2: Bonus Tracks/

This is an album, it’s total running time requires more than a single piece of medium.

Black Sabbath/
     Black Sabbath - Paranoid (2019 album, GB)/
          CD 1: Original Album 1970/
          CD 2: Bonus Tracks/
          CD 3: Us singing it in our Geritol era/
          CD 4: The Bagpipe Edition with an accompaniment of kazoos.

If that is distributed together it’s still an Album. The Extra Edition. Directors Cut, whatever.

Black Sabbath/
     Anxiety Box Set
          Black Sabbath - Paranoid Schizophrenia (2019 album, GB)/
               CD 1: Original Album Megamaster/
               CD 2: More Bonus Tracks/
               CD 3: Us singing it in our Geritol era/
               CD 4: The Bagpipe Edition with an accompaniment of kazoos.

         Black Sabbath - Paranoid Remaster (2010 album, GB)/
               CD 1: Original Album 1970/
               CD 2: Bonus Tracks/

Since the database does not specifically support a sub-sub level of distribution, what do you do?

Disc 01: Anxiety: Paranoid Schizophrenia Megamaster (2019) 
Disc 02: Anxiety: Paranoid Schizophrenia More Bonus Tracks
Disc 03: Anxiety: Paranoid Schizophrenia with Geritol
Disc 04: Anxiety: Paranoid Schizophrenia by the Blowhard Duo

Disc 05: Anxiety: Paranoid Original 1970 Release
Disc 06: Anxiety: Paranoid Original Bonus Tracks 1970 

… unless it’s a really old player with a teeny weeny screen that does not scroll the title, you’ll have some idea of what is playing.

1 Like