Is there a way to deny MusicBrainz Picard the ability to put anything, and I mean anything, into a compilation album?

Is there a way to deny MusicBrainz the ability to put anything, and I mean anything, into a compilation album?

The DB that MBP is using has obviously not been cleaned, or people actually like to have their music un-categorized. When even big artists like Aretha Franklin, Beatles and god knows what gets put into compilation albums then something is obviously wrong. I’m pretty sure every song ever released was first released on an album or single by that artist, not directly to a compilation album (obviously barring orchestras and big-bands like James Last and the likes).

Under metadata I have moved the sliders for everything other than album, single and EP all the way to the left, the 3 mentioned are moved all the way to the right.

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As an example.

Billboard’s Year End Chart for 1970 has 109 songs. Of these, albums where not found for 74 songs. Some might have been released as singles in 1969 or 1970, but most singles of this era would later make it into albums, but only 1 was correctly placed into such an album (released in 1972 I think). The rest where compilations (mostly with various artists), or re-releases.

So, when I have close to 5000 hits from 1970 onward, how many will MBP actually give correct tags for?

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Are you using scan or lookup for matching? Scan doesn’t pay any attention to the preferred release type, only lookup does.

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Lookup. I thought scan was something you should stay away from?

It dependson what you are doing and what quality your existing tags have.

To find albums the best result you usually get if you have complete albums and can use cluster + lookup.

For individual files getting the proper album is more difficult. If you have more or less reasonable existing tags try lookup first, as you did. If you have no or really bad tags or if lookup does not give you the expected results use scan, which identifies the files based on audio.

If your tags don’t indicate the album name at all you might actually have some difficulty getting everything tagged with the album only. But your slider settings should actually give reasonable good results. Can you give a concrete example of a file you try to lookup. If you can provide the following info I can give you more details on what is happening:

  • What release do you get, which one would you expect?
  • Which tags has this file set for title, artist, and album and what length does the file have?

Also which version of Picard are you using, the current release 2.2.3?

It’s actually rather the other way round: Especially tracks of such popular artists have been released on sometimes literately hundreds of compilations. It’s probably hard to find a Beatles song that is not available on several dozen compilation :slight_smile:

This depends on the files, the quality of existing tags and your definition of correct.


It’s a bunch of torrent downloads of top 100 Billboard year end songs. Doing 1970 (109 songs) I’ve learned a little, but damned there are many I have to look up on the net to get the album, then search the DB for the correct release. In addition, some of the songs are different depending on single or album version. They didn’t make it easy back then. :slight_smile:

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I just can’t figure out why the program won’t let me 1. Select that I don’t want anything, but original albums, singles, and EP’s (ie in metadata, when you drag a slider all the way to the left then that selection is barred, completely, and if it doesn’t find anything, too bad for me). and 2. Automatically select the original album, single or EP, if they are available.


The sliders weight in in the comparison, but they never disable a type completely. Actually the type is taken into account with pretty high weight, if you have the slider for albums completely to the right and the compilation completely to the left Picard would give the album result a large boost. But the rest of the tags are still also considered, so if your existing tags match the compilation really good and the album very badly it could still choose the compilation. Another factor is the search on the server, if your existing tags don’t match the album version very well the album might not even show up in the search results.

This really depends a lot on the files you are working with, hence I asked for an example. Without some concrete example I can’t really tell you why it is behaving the way it behaves.


Often if I get compilations with lookup, it means that the release wasn’t marked as a compilation in the database. I always try to fix that if possible.

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Picard is more aimed at locating whole albums which are already in the database. What you are trying to do is tag a custom compilation. As that compilation is not in the database, then Picard scatters results attempting to hunt down any match that fits the tracks.

What you are requesting is not to return the best match, but instead you want the oldest match for each track

If these “top 100 Billboard” compilations were official then they could be added to the database. But as they come from a dubious source then they are looked at more like a custom playlist.


Yes, they are a compilation, BUT they are the original songs. I find that most have albums, I just have to do manual searches to find them (and mostly they are in the DB), but a few are different from the album version (ie single versions often were shorter, to fit on a single, while the album versions could be 5 minutes or longer).

Is there a program, like this one, that is better fitted for my needs? Or would it be interesting to do something with the way this program searches for matches?

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Would it be an idea to force people to register the original album, before they can register a compilation? When you add something the DB asks “There are no albums marked as original, is this the original?”. If you answer “No”, then you are asked to add the original before you are allowed to add a compilation. Might be a bit over the top, but it’s kind of annoying with all these compilations for old albums, and no one has ever bothered adding the original.

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“Compilation albums” are just as much valid releases as “original albums”, and the distinction is not nearly as clear as you make it out to be. There are definitely cases where some track appears on a “Various Artists” release before appearing on a release directly credited to the track artist (if such a release ever appears at all).



What tags do your greatest hits music files already have?

If they do have complex tags then here is an experiment you could try.

Open some disposable song files in a tag editor - see what tags they already have.
Try deleting specific tags.
And then run those partially detagged files through Picard and see what Releases Picard matches them with.

I’d try deleting tags with dates first but, if needed, delete all tags except artist name & track name.

Let us know how much , or if, removing tags improves your success rate.


Many people do not have access to, or reliable knowledge about, original Releases.

And too, cataloging is surprisingly complex already, without having to determine accurately which is the original Release.
The volunteer Editors here at MB might stop volunteering if they were faced with that.

In general, the approach taken by MusicBrainz is that all accurate data is welcomed.


Nudge, nudge, nudge :wink:


If a Release that you know to exist doesn’t exist in MusicBrainz, please do add it:

Keep in mind that all information added in MusicBrainz is added by volunteers who donate their own time and effort into both populating and maintaining the data. If you find data missing or wanting in quality, the best way to remedy this is to add or improve the data yourself.


Been working on this a couple of days now, and have learned a few things.

  1. Always delete all tags before you start.
  2. Do a Lookup and move all compilations back
  3. Do a Scan and move all compilations back
  4. Do Lookup in Browser for the rest
    4a. Find release date (on the web)
    4b. Click the artist name
    4c. Check albums around the release date
    4d. If no albums, check for singles
    4e. If no luck, add to the database

As for 4. This could have been made a lot easier if you could sort. I seriously don’t understand why you can’t click on a column to sort it.

In addition: Why don’t it include artwork when you match? I didn’t understand this before I had done most of the job.


I seriously disagree with you. A compilation album is not the “real thing”. The songs are the same, but not the way it’s sorted, and the album artwork.

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I’ve added one and also done an edit. It’s a learning thing I guess, to be able to do it better and faster.