Picard woes


I am new to picard. In the upper right corner, there is a search field. I have experimented with it, but have been unable to get any useful results.

What I would like is for it to open the sought-after album in the right panel so that I can just drag my files from the middle panel onto the appropriate name. This would make tagging hugely easier, since it is often impossible to divine the arcane names people have used for (classical) albums.

Is there a way to do this?

Also, I have noticed that picard appears to be renaming some of my files that are not loaded int the middle panel on its own!!! (horbor, shock, mega-BAD!!!). The names are pretty meaningless and they make it impossible to tell with track it is. I have had to go back to backup copies to restore order.

Why is this happening?

I suspect that there is some sort of bittorrent running in the background that scans all of the logged in users’ files for matches. The problem with this is that you end up with file names and tags that are not the authoritative ones in the MusicBrainz database (that I have just spent 3 painful weeks on, hugely expanding (classical)). I have been patient and, inthe end, I managed to get the ‘real’ file names and tags, but it sure is scary when your files are messed with and you can no longer tell what they really are and which order they are supposed to be in (not a good thing for symphonies where almost every track is called allegro or andante lol).


You can always manually load releases into Picard, see Loading releases from musicbrainz.org into Picard

No, Picard is not renaming anything on its own. It will only save tags and move / rename files when you press the save button. You can disable any of these actions, so e.g. if you want to just save tags disable moving and renaming.


There is no bittorrent running in the background.
Picard establish a direct connection to the MB Server, searching for additional data with your existing information (file names, tags).

You get the best matches, if you are looking for entire albums, not single tracks.


Difficult to tell exactly what has been going wrong for you. Certainly turn off the file naming and moving options unless you have configured it as you want (and in any case always turn them off before re-saving as Picard will rename with (1) appended). Also, always review the bottom panel tags before saving.
To get the maximum out of MB for classical music, you can try my Classical Extras plugin available from the plugins area https://picard.musicbrainz.org/plugins/ but please read the readme before using it. That should enable you to get the tags as you want them.


If you’re saving multiple files with a script that doesn’t sufficietly distinguish the tags, then yeah, it will append the number, and Picard may indeed have had trouble with all files in the past, but it does handle normal resaving properly now. I leave the option on the entire time, and I (somewhat obsessively) re-run my the entire tagged portion of my library every couple of weeks in case anything’s changed. Other than that, definitely good tips there!


Hey, that’s super @invisiblecontext ! I always wondered what the colours meant. Mostly, I got a lot of red, which worried me, as I knew that the files were correct, since i ripped them myself. Now, I understand. I am glad I took the time to enter my albums, as it should turn those green for subsequent users :slight_smile:

Now you tell me :wink: I clicked that tagger button a few times, wondering what it would do, but nothing happened. I read the documentation a little and I thought that tagger was either an older version or a version for a non-Linux operating system. I didn’t know you had to be running picard while clicking lol That sure would have saved me a lot of headaches, since I often knew my album was in MB, but it just wouldn’t match my files. I had to manually edit the tags to get matches. It was a lot of guesswork to get the match that I knew was accurate, since I have the albums I ripped the files from!

What a relief @InvisibleMan78 ! I don’t like bittorrent for tagging (if that is possible). That is why I came to MB—because I want reliable and accurate information. What a relief that picard only accesses the MB database!

Yes, @MetaTunes the files renamed variously _flac (1) , _flac )2) , _flac (3) and so on, as wel as the 002adagio 003 adagio etc were scaring me. Where was this coming from? How could i ever identify my files, if a match wasn’t found? I knew what my files were, because I had each album a a separate directory and the files were named 2.6 VC1.4 for Disc 2 Track 8 Violin Concerto NO. 1 Movement 4, but when I got the aforementioned stuff, I started to panic :open_mouth: I hope nothing got messed up—I spent a lot of time going over those and matching them by hand.

Those tricks with picard and loading a specific album, as in the other thread: looking it up in the search, going to the MB site and selecting the link and dragging it, etc. are worthy ones. This needs to be documented, because it sure is a headache if you know what file you have, but it doesn’t have sufficient metadata to pull in the release.

I should have asked these questions about 3 weeks ago! I just tagged my entire (pretty small, but comfy) collection. I learned a lot about tagging, picard and how to use it, the MB database (and how terrible it is to try to find a specific release), despite what a phenomenal resource it is, etc.

Thanks to you all for your responses.


sorry you’re not invisible, you’re @outsidecontext lol


So long as you had the files tagged with mostly-correct metadata before (and especially if you matched them to the correct MB releases), you should be able to recover the poorly-named files; the names may have been mangled, but the tags should be fine. The trick is that Picard allows very powerful and customizable automatic naming, but that also means that it does so in an all-or-nothing manner and can wind up being rather brain-dead about it if you don’t tailor things for your particular use. I’m not entirely sure what your library looks like to result in that sort of misnaming – especially if you still have the default script – but if you give us some idea of what you’re dealing with (either verbal description or by linking to some of the releases you did find) and more importantly how you want your library to be organized, there’s several people who can construct a script to replicate that. I’m not going to be able to do anything myself tomorrow around work, but we’re all friendly and helpful around here. Or if you want to test your hand at it yourself, I recommend these two pages and the “View script variables” plugin.


I agree with you and have tried to do some additional guidelines here - http://music.highmossergate.co.uk/enhanced.php - see step 2 under the process tab. If you have a lot of albums it can be worthwhile running SongKong before using Picard as it may be better at finding them and will supply the MB id tags so that Picard will then run more smoothly (I use Picard with Classical Extras to enhance the tags even if I have used SongKong first). Otherwise for one album at a time, it may be necessary to find the release in MB first then use the tagger button, followed by dragging the cluster onto the tagged release.


Well, I finished adding my files, so I’m not going back to redo them lol If (hopefully not) I discover errors, I might need to re-rip a few and try some of these ideas in the future. Yes, I think the embedded tags were mostly fine, but they were very sketchy to begin with, because I ripped the files myself and didn’t use any online tagging (but it seems that the ripping program did enter some skeletal info, some of it completely false, that I wondered where it got this stuff: when I played the tracks and saw the curious names that appeared on my amplifier, I wondered where this stuff was coming from and knew I had no music named like that!). Anyway, I just named the files in a personal shorthand and put them into a folder per album, with track and disk numbers, so identification was 100%—for me, but not so easy for picard. It is completed now, thank Heaven!

I don’t really need a special script, since it would only be the occasional album, assuming errors (that I am able to detect) did occur. What I like is being able to fetch the required album into the right pane and then just dragging my files onto it, when picard hasn’t got enough metadata to make sense of it. That is just super to know!

I am somewhat averse to scripts. I know everyone is well-meaning and the scripts around here are meant to do the task, which is an honourable one, but loading extensions into my browser doesn’t appeal to me right now. As I dig deeper, having completed tagging of my collection, I might wet my feet.


Now that you’ve tagged your files, it’s a piece of :cake: to change them all if you ever want to change the tags or folder structure.
Just change your settings, drag them in (they will automatically re-match to the album you tagged them as already) and hit Save to apply the new settings.
Just by the way!


That’s what I was after: having the albums in MB so that I can just do that—change the settings and automatically rematch the album and apply the new settings.

What if I re-rip an album? Since I use k3b and it can access MB, will it just pull in the correct info (that others and I have painstakingly added)?


It will only instantly match itself to a file in the database if it’s got MBID tags in the file, which wont be present on a newly ripped file.
However if you’ve already added all the info to MB it should only take a few seconds to match it to the right album with lookup or scan :slight_smile:


Brotagonist, if you’ve got 20 minutes free it would probably help MB if you took the time to write down how you now think things would need to be on Picard and Musicbrainz for you to have had an easier time of being a new user.
The experience is still fresh enough in your memory.
(This isn’t to say that things will be changed very soon - just that your reflections could help with new user orientation and directions that a easy Graphic User Interface might head in.)

Edit: And you are now experienced enough to add your questions to the “Picard new user questions” thread. :grin:


I don’t know how k3b uses MusicBrainz. But if it is able to match the right CD by disc ID and also writes the MusicBrainz ID tags you should be able to just load the albums into Picard and get it matched instantly. I use Sound Juicer and it does that well.

If in this painstakingly process you or somebody else has also submitted the disc ID, otherwise k3b won’t be able to match an inserted CD anyway. Usually when I add a new release I have as CD I start by submitting it’s disc ID, as this will automatically fill in correct track times and makes adding the release easier. I usually use Picard or Sound Juicer for this, but maybe k3b also has the option to submit the disc ID if it cannot find it on MB.


There are a number of rippers with MB support, some of these (morituri/whipper at least) also include MBIDs in the resulting rip:


All of a sudden my mind went blank lol


Firstly, the MB site ‘add a release’ screen(s) should actually honour the style guidelines. reosarevok has told me a number of times that the release has just the composer and the performers listed on the front cover. The tracks are supposed to have only the composer. The recordings (of the tracks) are supposed to have only the performers, but not the composer. I was unable to find the correct combination of ticked and unticked boxes to get this to happen. This should just occur naturally. The web page should honour MB’s style guidelines from the start, so that the person entering the data doesn’t have to go back and re-edit it all again and again to get it to fit the guidelines.

The tracks should be automatically matched to recordings already in the database. There is no way for the person entering the information to know whther the release he has in hand contains the same recordings as released on another release. This information is in the database somewhere and should be pulled up automatically, so that the person entering the information doesn’t have to guess based on track lengths, same labels, etc.

All of the boxes to be ticked are very confusing. It is impossible to know what they are doing: carry the artists over to this other field somewhere? change the titles of the reorcdings to match this? Artists on track lines? Track numbers begin a line? I never tried that one out, for fear of making a mistake and having to wait 6 days to be able to correct it. yEs, that’s another BIG one: when I enter something and need to correct it, I should be able to do so right away, instead of having to wait 6 days to do so.When I know right this second that I made a mistake, why do I need to wait a week to correct the error? It’s plain dumb and most people, less exacting ones than I have tried to be, would just leave it. All anyone wants is to get their tracks tagged. That’s all I want: have a database that knows the correct tags for all of my albums and knows how to identify what I’ve got when I tell it what artist and album it is.

The add album cover filed should be added into the edit release section so that one doesn’t have to edit the release, finish it off and then go back and add a cover. Also, since MB already knows about discogs, allmusic and amazon, it should just fetch the covers itself. It is a huge amount of work for me (you) to search out all of the sites and locate this. I spent anywhere from 30-50 minutes per album typing and looking up covers and whatnot and entering it all. If I managed even 30 albums in one day, from breakfast to midnight with barely a break, even eating at the computer, etc., then I was doing very well. This is just too long!

Another thing: the MB web site does not allow for easy lookup of an album. Entering the release title or artist or label is not enough. Entering Symphony 2 for release or Mozart for artist, for example, and I was presented with a discography that in some cases went on for more than 10 pages and I had to scan the list, page by page, in order to locate my album… and then, because the titles shown and the artists listed did not make it clear what they were, I ended up missing my album altogether and started to create a new release, only to be told that it already was in the database! That is very frustrating.

There’s probably more about the web entry screens, but I can’t think of more right now.

As for picard, it should be made clear, with a big blue button, or something lol that you can just put the album you are trying to match into the right field and then you can just click match or drag and drop your files from the centre field onto the correct track names (I know what album I ripped, don’t I? so why should I have to spend 20 minutes per album searching for it and having to modify the tags to get a match when I already know what it is?).

Well, once I kind of figured out that i had to manually enter tags into my files on the middle box to help picard look my album up, then it worked smoother.

It was unclear what the difference between scan (is that what it’s called? I already forgot) and lookup was. After I was all done, I read that the one looks up the album based on the embedded tags, while the other generates an audio sample (whatever it is called) to match to.

It was very frustrating when picard continually matched my files to wrong albums, usually ones with 20 or more disks in the set, but sometimes to other similar albums. I repeatedly changed the tags to match my album, with the correct album title, artists, label and barcode, but still it would put my tracks onto a wrong album, typically one by another performer who had recorded the same works… but I already told it who the performer is, so why match to a different performer? It was a battle.

Still, on both counts, the immense amount of manual work and typing required aside, this is REALLY super! I spent a huge amount of time, but my collection is now about 97% the way it should be, and the remaining 3% are just minor points that could be rectified with a little edit of a release (spelling mistakes, get things into the same format, so that all albums use Symphony No. instead of Symphony no. or nr., for example. There are difficulties, however, since Symphony No. 2 and Sinfonie Nr. 2 and Symphonie No. 2 would be different album titles, yet could actually be the same album, just depending on who entered it and which translation they used, since many albums have numerous languages on the cover.

Also, since the site is a global site that operates in English, as does Wikipedia, the artists should be referenced first by their names as used in English and they can have aliases in their native languages, etc. It is very confusing to enter Shostakovich (or another artist) for the artist and then have some gibberish in Cyrillic (or greek or Chinese or…) show up as the artist.

Well, I’ll stop here. I think I covered the bulk of it andmy coffee is long cold lol

Again, I think this is a super site and picard is fantastic, a ‘lifesaver’, even with their difficulties, abmiguities and flaws. Without MB, I would likely not have bothered tagging my files and would just have played 3.04 2.3 (disk 3 track 4 symphony 2 movement 3) from a directory with an obvious name and just ignored the stuff that appeard on the display of my playback device. But, even then, to get my files to play in track order has been a problem that has plagued me for a whole year! And now, thanks to correct labels, it just works! :slight_smile:


You’re honestly shooting yourself in the foot by not using browser scripts. After a bit of practice it should only take a couple of minutes (more with classical or if you’re adding relationships as well) to import or add a release.
I’m not saying this to invalidate your experience, but because it pains me to imagine you spending so long on everything in future!!

I also definitely don’t think global site =/= everything should be English.
it should certainly display the artist name that matches your browser language settings however :slight_smile:

Great feedback though, love your good attitude!


Really great post. As a relatively new user myself, it sums up my own experience perfectly. Especially the frustration of trying to correct an edit (especially one which was automatically applied) and finding it will take 6 days before the correction goes through. Surely the system should know I was just editing my own edit? This, coupled with the rather arcane interface makes newbie editors “afraid to touch it in case they break something” which is unhelpful for them and for MB.
That said, I still think MB is great and there are many aspects about the interface that work really well.


Thank you for writing that up! You bring up a lot of good points that definitely are confusing/annoying.

That would be nice!

AFAIK, the best you can (reasonably) do is get the release artists and track artists correct; don’t worry about the recording artists. Once you have ARs entered, you can use the userscript to fix the recording artists (or, alternatively, post in the auto-editor request thread for one of the auto-editors to do it).

I think the only way that could be done automatically is via AcoustID, and we’d have to be much more confident of our AcoustID data. Other than that, the name, performers, label, etc. is all that’s in the database… And often much of that information is missing.

Not only are they confusing until you’ve figured out what they do, but at least IMO they have the wrong defaults. Though they all just change the edit you’re working on but haven’t submitted yet. Until you actually submit the edit, you can change anything without a 6-day delay. And you can safely play with them (by editing any album) and just throw away your edit—close the browser tab without hitting the final edit button.

BTW: Using that track list parser makes entering classical much easier. Especially if combined with the Firtefox extension “It’s All Text” and gvim. Well, at least it does for vim fans. :smiley:

You can go to https://musicbrainz.org/release/add and play around with it. Except for adding a new artist or label, everything is local-only until you hit “Enter Edit” on the final screen. So it’s safe to play with, and you can just close the tab to discard it.

Absolutely, especially when adding disc IDs. Almost everywhere else you can paste an MBID-containing link… but there you have to search. And wade through pages.

Elsewhere, you can use https://musicbrainz.org/search … and use the advanced syntax and that at least somewhat works. E.g., https://musicbrainz.org/search?query="symphony+no.+1"+arid%3A8d610e51-64b4-4654-b8df-064b0fb7a9d9+arid%3Afa39bc82-9b27-4bbb-9425-d719a72e09ac&type=release&limit=25&method=advanced ­— then normally you can copy the link & paste it into whatever wants you to find a release.

:open_mouth: No way you can fully enter a release in a couple of minutes. It takes at least that long to check a release that someone else has already fully entered… Just the time waiting for the scanner is longer than that (and my 9000F MII is fast as far as affordable scanners go.) 1200 ppi scans to straighten, descreen, and downscale to 300 ppi are not quick :slightly_frowning_face: (and anything less seems to decrease descreen quality).

I guess putting in a ~10-track non-classical album, without cover art, linked works, ARs, etc. is possible in a few minutes.