How do you deal with multi-artist albums in itunes?

I was recently given an ipod as a gift, and so I’m trying to get my music in a little more order than it was previously.

I’m running into a challenge though, as I like to browse by artist. The problem is, I have a lot of classical and musical theatre albums where the artist varries from track to track. Not only that, but at times an artist might be singing a duet, and so both artists are listed, or I might have the artist performing solo, and then the artist with the Budapest Symphony, and then the artist with the Boston Pops. Or, the ‘artist’ might include the conductor, orchestra, and primary soloist in one long string.

How do you all deal with this? My ‘artist’ list becomes unnavigable because it’s just too full of variations on these sorts of things:

First, in the musical theatre world. My Music Man recording has the following for artists:

[ul]
[li]Warner Bros Orchestra, Travelling Salesmen[/li][li]Shirley Jones and Pert Kelton[/li][li]Shirley Jones & The Buffalo Bills[/li][li]Shirley Jones & Robert Preston[/li][li]Shirley Jones[/li][li]Ronnie Howard[/li][li]Robert Preston & The Ensemble[/li][li]Robert Preston[/li][li]Hermione Gingold & The Biddys[/li][li]Ensemble[/li][li]Buffalo Bills[/li][li]Buddy Hackett & The Ensemble[/li][/ul]

In this case I generally care less about the specific artists. I almost always look up theatre stuff by album, but having twelve entries for artist for this album clutters up my artist list. What do people do in this situation? Leave it as is? Change it all to “assorted”? Something else?

Secondly, and more complicated, is:

[ul]
[li]Sibelius / Ormandy[/li][li]Sibelius - Bernstein, NYP[/li][li]Rouslan Raichev; Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra[/li][li]Leonard Bernstein; New York Philharmonic Orchestra[/li][li]Jean Sibelius[/li][li]Herbert Kegel; Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra[/li][li]Cleveland Sinfonietta - Louis Lane[/li][/ul]

These are all the “artists” that come up when I search my itunes for Sibelius. The one that is just his name has the performer(s) as part of the album name.

Most of the time, I’d just like to look up Sibelius. However, I may want to scroll through itunes and listen to all my recordings of a Bernstein-conducted orchestra. Or, more realistically, I’ve got an album of V. Horrowitz playing Scriabin. Sometimes I might want to look for everything by Scriabin, but other times I might want to hear Horrowitz’s piano playing independant of the composer of the piece (or whether or not it’s a solo, concerto, or what have you).

Things like this are a big mess, and I’m wondering if anyone has a good system.

You can select all of the songs from an album and “Get Info” (or the Windows equivalent, if that’s what you have) on them as a group. Enter the album name once in the dialog that comes up. You’ll also see a checkbox to indicate that the album is a compilation. Check that box. That will tell iTunes that these tracks go together, and to sort the files into a folder based on the album title, and not broken up into different folders based on the artist’s names.

Click “Okay”. Now select each track individually and type in the artist names for each single track. There is also a field where you can enter the composer. I don’t think you can break it down by conductor, though.

I think you’re actually asking about systems of naming, and not necessarily how to accomplish this in iTunes, but just until someone comes along with the former…

You could include “Conductor: Bernstein” or whatever you want in the notes field, then use a smart playlist to search for things in that field to come up with playlists based on whatever criteria you put in there.

Alternatively, taking the Music Man example, if you wanted to keep the information associated with the file so you could look at it if you wanted, but you wanted to simplify the Artists list, you could set the artist to the same thing as the album, and put the individual singers in the notes. It’s less useful, but more clean that way.

I have a couple thousand CDs, and I’ve had to laboriously re-type everything in almost every one of them. First of all, get Sibelius out of the “Artist” column, and into “Composer.” “Artist” is for the name of the performer(s), like “Bernstein/New York Philharmonic.” Unless, of course, you actually have a recording of Sibelius performing.

The guys who give this info to iTunes obviously don’t know what they’re doing, especially with classical music. I’ve seen things like “allegro moderato” in the “Artist” column.

Do it your own way, whatever makes sense to you.

I do this too, because you can shuffle albums, but for some reason you can’t shuffle artists. And I really don’t care which album a song came from. So I sort by artists, select everything by a single artist, and change all the album titles to the name of the artist in one group command. I also delete the track numbers; once the track numbers and different album titles are gone, iTunes sorts by song title. Once I sort by artist, I end up with all titles by that artist in alpha order by title.

This doesn’t solve your issue, but once you settle on a scheme, the techniques of making mass changes through “Get info” are pretty straightforward. You select any set of songs by whatever criteria you want, and any change you make to any field in “get info” applies to all the songs you selected.

Moving thread from IMHO to Cafe Society.