Organize Your mp3 Collection: Single Songs

One of the best things about the mp3 era is that you don’t have to buy an entire album just to listen to one song that you like. Granted, if the song is a single, you can always buy the single, but sometimes you’ll hear an album cut that’s phenomenal, but the rest of the album stinks. That’s okay, just buy the mp3 of that one song.

But if you took my advice from my last post, you’ll see that with single songs, you’ll run into continuity and QA problems. What track number is “Walking on Sunshine”? What album is it from? What artwork do I use with it?

There are several ways to address this problem:

  • Treat it like what it is: A single piece of music. Find cover art of the single (or the album cover if it’s an album track), label it “Track 1 of 1,” and leave the album tag empty. But that makes it difficult to find the song unless you’re searching by song title.
  • Use the album tag; in the case above, Walking on Sunshine is the name of the album as well. You could even go so far as to add “Track 5 of 10” to your metadata. But now you have an incomplete album.
  • I create a new album based on the year the song was released. For example, “Walking on Sunshine” is part of the “1983” album – Track 14 of 35, to be exact. This way, I can play all the singles from a certain year – especially those one-hit wonders from the 80s. In this case, the album artist would be “Various Artists,” since you’re dealing with multiple artists.
  • Sometimes I add a song to a special album I call Good Songs, Bad CD. For example, I bought Thomas Dolby’s “Jealous Thing Called Love” but didn’t like the album it was from, A Map of the Floating City, after sampling the other songs. So it’s now track 4 of 12 on Good Songs, Bad CD. Again, use “Various Artists” for the album artist.
  • Got an obscure track from an unknown artist? Create a CD called Unknown Artists. Cuts from just soundtracks? Create a Soundtracks CD. Songs from Van Halen which feature only Sammy Hagar?  Create a Van Hagar’s Greatest Hits CD.

You might say, what’s the big deal? Why not just use bullet number one for everything? I’m a completist, and I like having all my tags describing the song in as much detail as possible – and have it accessible quickly if I’m looking for it. There’s a method to my madness – you’ll see in Part 3.

Soundtracks and Classical Music

What about soundtracks? Classical music? Here’s what I do:

  • For soundtracks, I have a genre specifically called “Soundtracks.” If it’s a compilation of artists such as the cast of The Sound of Music,  I use “Various Artists” as the artist so I don’t have different artists for each song.
  • For classical music, my taste is not that refined. There is an mp3 tag for composer, so ideally, you’d put “Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart” in that field, with “London Philharmonic Orchestra” or whoever performed the piece in the artist tag. But for me, who plays a classical piece isn’t as important as who wrote it. So I put the composer’s name in the artist field as well as the composer field.

(If you want to get really fancy, put the names of the people who wrote all the songs in your library – e.g., insert “Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, and Phil Spector” for the composers of “Be My Baby,” even though the Ronettes performed it. Why? You’ll see…)


  1. 3 years ago
  2. 3 years ago
  3. 3 years ago