Sorting expectations

Now that I have sorted some 3000 files I am seeing some results I was not expecting, First is naming of artists, for example I have a M:\MBP_unsorted folder and a M:\MBP_sorted. Lets look at James Taylor.
I have two folders in the MBP_sorted sub folder. one is James Taylor the other is JamesTaylor. in both folders are some of the same albums but with different content. So the New Moon album is missing track 2,3,4 in the James Taylor sub folder but the tracks exist in the JamesTaylor version. FYI the in the unsorted folder there are 3 James Taylor folders , James Taylor, James_Taylor and one spelled wrong James Tailor.

The next issue is Albums from various artists. Such as Monsters of Rap. In the unsorted folder all the songs from that album are under the album subfolder. after the sort they are listed with their artist.

Last is “The” for purposes of sorting is there a way to write The Beach Boys as Beach Boys, The.

I need a bit more information to fully understand what is happening and what you’re wanting to do. As a minimum, please post a copy of your file naming script. Also, under the Metadata options, do you have “Use standardized artist names” checked or unchecked? Once I see those, I should have a better idea.

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$if2(%albumartist%,%artist%)/$if($ne(%albumartist%,),%album%/,)$if($gt(%totaldiscs%,1),%discnumber%-,)$if($ne(%albumartist%,),$num(%tracknumber%,2) ,)$if(%_multiartist%,%artist% - ,)%title%

Use artist names is NOT checked

Thanks. That helps a bit. A few more questions. Are you using any plugins? If so, which ones?

I must admit that I have no idea how you’re getting the different variations of James Taylor. I couldn’t find anywhere in the database where he is shown as JamesTaylor (no space between the names), James_Taylor or James Tailor.

Perhaps if you don’t mind, can you provide a step-by-step description of the process that you’re following to “sort” your files? How are you looking up the releases and matching the files to the tracks?

As for changing “The Beach Boys” to “Beach Boys, The”, there are (at least) two ways. The simplest way is to use %artistsort% and %albumartistsort% rather than %artist% and %albumartist%. The drawback to this is that it will use the sort name for all of the artists (e.g.: Taylor, James). If you just want to apply it to artists starting with “The” (or “A” or “An”), then we’ll have to use the $swapprefix() function.


Lots of questions there, but I’ll pick on on the Magic Matching Abilities of AcousticID.

How many albums are you throwing into Picard at a time? And are you doing any manual checks to make sure the right versions are being selected?

One of the problems with compilation and greatest hits albums is the same track with the same AcousticID can appear on many different releases. Picard doesn’t know which release to match to, so common tracks may often get matched to the “wrong” release. This is likely why your “New Moon” album split into two. Matching to two slightly different releases.

I often find this happening with deluxe versions too - Picard matches most of the tracks to the original release, with a couple of tracks being added to the deluxe version.

This is where it is important to do a manual check yourself to make sure Picard has selected the correct release. Manual corrections then need to be done to drag files into the correct sets.

It is where the “Look Up In Browser” button gets handy as you can check in the MB database, select the correct matching release, and then hit that Tagger button to push the correct data back to Picard.

This is not as much of a faff as it sounds, but can lead to chaos if you just trust Picard to be perfect. It is brilliant at what it can do, but very hard to be perfect. Just needs a careful eye kept on its selections.


Just quick interruption to say that you mean/he means “AcoustID”. “AcousticID” isn’t something that exists that I’m aware of. :slight_smile:


Whoops, that is funny - first time I ever realised that the “ic” is missing. :smiley: My brain has always processed that as two English words. I’ve always read it as an ID of the Acoustics. Thanks @Freso :+1:

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Plug in is a fairly universal term in the PC world. Do you mean plug ins that are specific to MBP? If so no. Stock…

Maybe I am stuck with all my albums that I took YEARS to rip being resorted by artist. That $%$@# BUT So-BE-IT.
Does anyone know of an app that I can use after MBP. To “catalog” the files and put them into virtual albums. Please I beg do not say iTunes…

So I have some 50,000 files. The folder structure started out as Music\Album(artist)\music file. There are Many duplicates in the same format and also in different formats. WAV, MP3 etc.
Since MBP chokes on huge processes I sorted all the Album(artist) folders into a new subfolder with subfolders A-Z, 0-9, unknown and a couple others. So roughly 26 + 10 + 3 = 39 50,000ish / 39 = an average of 1000 - 1500 files. at a time.
By at a time. I run the A’s
Load the A folder. Choose lookup. When that is done I choose save.
Then I do scan on the remaining straglers.
When that is done I save again.
When done. I close the app and restart it.
Selecting the b’s and so on…

I meant Picard plugins. If you’re not using any then that’s one less thing that we need to consider. Thanks.

You’re not stuck with anything. I’m just trying to understand how you’ve gotten into your current situation using Picard. That’s what I was asking for a step-by-step description of the process that you followed, so that I can follow it through and try to understand what may have gone wrong and how it could be fixed.

One thing that I’m wondering from your description is how you are matching the files to the proper release (or verifying that they are properly matched) between the “lookup” and “save”. Thanks.

When the CD went into the PC YEARS ago. it was a CD all of the songs on that CD were on that CD. They were then grouped in a folder by the CD name.

I shouldn’t have to verify that MBP put them in the correct folder they started in the correct folder. I was looking for MBP to fix the tagging etc…

Please understand I am no bashing the product and I know how much time goes into creating something like this.

I just wasn’t expecting it to “unsort” (from my point of view) my music.

If you already have them in “album” directories, then the process should be dead simple because Picard is designed to work with albums (releases in MusicBrainz speak). Try selecting one album directory, cluster the files and lookup. If you are presented with more than one release (in the right hand pane in Picard), simply remove the ones that aren’t right, leaving one release. Then drag your files from the cluster and drop them on the release. Check that they are all matched up to the correct tracks on the album (this should happen automatically) and save. They should be filed and named in accordance with your file naming script.

I have a job to do this has already taken days.( Granted many days or weeks or months less than if I did it manually) But I have no wish to do any of this manually.

It might be a suggestion that an option be added that only near absolute matches be processed.( if the user wants to do so.)

This one is a bit strange as I found no “JamesTaylor” in the database. Did you maybe save unmatched files (that were not matched to MusicBrainz releases in the right)? If you save unmatched files Picard would use the existing metadata tags, and if these happened to contain JamesTaylor as the artist this would create separate artist folders.

You should use Cluster before doing the lookup. This will cluster the files by album and lookup will then try to match the entire set of files to the same release.


This is actually another indication that you saved unmatched files, which likely did not have the albumartist tag set (which is quite common in ripped files as many CD rippers did not set this tag). If you would have saved with files actually matched to MusicBrainz data on the right this tag would have been set to “Various Artists” and, with the naming script you used, you would end up with a folder name like Various Artists\[Album Title\.

Now you probably want to now how to sort up the mess again. There are two answers:

  1. You restore a backup of your original files and try again, but this time you first start with a couple of albums to a) get familiar with the process and b) check if Picard is configured the way you want. E.g. you should make sure the folder structure and file naming is to your liking and adjust it if it isn’t. The most important thing here to follow is to first use Cluster, then Lookup. Also check the results on the right. If there are non-golden discs something needs investigation.

  2. You use Picard to fixup the existing files. This now will be a bit harder since you already changed the tags with possibly wrong ones. So e.g. clustering will probably no longer be as reliable if the files where already matched to different releases on MusicBrainz. If you actually saved many files without matching them to MusicBrainz, as I suspect, the damage would not be so high, though, as Picard in this case would not have changed any tags, just the folder hierarchy.


Lets put this aside for a moment…

I closed Picard.

Reopened Picard

Choose Add directory. Selected a directory that had 5 albums and a small handful of songs in it.

They all showed in unclustered files.

I selected the group unclustered files and selected Cluster from the menu.

When it was finished most items were grouped in clusters.

one of the clusters was unknown album.

in unknown were 22 tracks of the

Opra 21-Day Meditation album

selecting any single track showed only the title, track number and length.

I selected all the tracks and choose lookup. (Nothing changed)

I then went to the selected tracks and changed the artist to Deepak_Opra

and the album to 21 day Meditation.

I then tried to save. nothing happpened.

I closed the app.

reopened it and selected the same folder and reclustered.


there is a cluster that reads

.Oprah & Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation Experience, Expanding Your Happiness

Where did that come from???

The artist for all tracks reads

Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey

Where did that come from?

I tried to move the cluster to the right but it wont.

i tried to lookup and it cannot be found.

How do I save the now properly tagged and clustered album to its home on m:\Music…?

One thing that is important to understand is how the two panes in Picard behave. The left pane is for your files that are not matched to a MusicBrainz release. You can change tags there manually and also save the files, but Picard will only ever deal with the tags that are already present in your files (or that you have manually set). So when you clustere the files all the files that had no album information set were clustered into the “Unknown” cluster. Once you manually edited the tags and added artist and album and saved it, these tags where written to the file. Once you loaded it again and clustered again the result now of course used the saved tags, hence you know no longer get an unknown cluster but the album name you set.

What you actually want to do is getting your files tagged with MusicBrainz data. For that you have to get the appropriate releases loaded into the right tag and then assign the files to these tags. There are multiple ways to achieve this:

  1. Using Cluster + Lookup: This is the first thing you should always try. If you already have your files somewhat reasonable tagged and you mostly deal with entire albums this usually gives the best results. It will search MusicBrainz for a release matching your cluster, load it to the right pane and move the files over.

    Note that this relies on existing metadata. If your existing tags are totally useless it won’t be able to find much. Also you can use lookup without clustering, but this will then search on a file by file basis and hence is more likely to scatter your files across different releases.

  2. Using Scan: This will doe acoustic fingerprinting using AcoustId. This is a good option if you have no clue about the files. As this uses the actual aduio it is pretty good at finding the right recordings, but since this operates on a file per file basis it is rather bad at keeping the recordings together for a single album.

  3. Loading the album manually from MusicBrainz and dragging your files over from the left pane to the right.

See also the following answer for more details:

Once the files are matched to MusicBrainz data to the right you usually want to look over the result. Usually you can quite just save the ones with a golden disc, but the other wants you might take a quick look at before saving.