We all hate looking at our music or audio collection and seeing tags that are wrong or missing data but in all honesty we can rarely be bothered to go through all our music and correct the tags; be they tracks we got from a friend, ones we ripped a long time ago ourselves or music that was obtained from... 'other sources'. This guide will walk you through automatically correcting wrong or missing metadata (or ID3 tags) such as the Title, Artist, Album, Date, etc.
Luckily there is at least one free source that will correct all the missing or wrong fields on your audio tracks, be it the artist, title, album, date (year, month, day, etc) or even the composer and it will work on not just MP3 but also OGG, FLAC and other formats. It'll work on almost any format that uses ID3 tags (standard for most audio tracks).
The tagger works best if the tracks are tagged but only slightly wrong, but it can identify music tracks purely by their "audio fingerprint" which is essentially an (almost) unique code for that track. This is especially useful if you've got no idea what the track is.
First, you need to download Musicbrainz Picard
and install it. This is the actual program we'll be using to identify or correct the ID3 tags on our music. Musicbrainz Picard is available for Windows, MacOS and Linux so it's quite universal.
Musicbrainz Picard can also move your audio tracks around and rearrange them into folders based on the Artist and Album but we're only going to focus on identifying and correcting fields (such as Artist, Album, Title, etc) today.
Once you have installed Picard you will need to open it up. Have a look around the program once you've opened it and familiarize yourself with the interface. Once you're happy with it we can start adding music.
Adding tracks is simple, simply click on Add Files
if you want to add one or more files that are in a single folder or click Add Folder
if you'd like to add all tracks that are in a folder and all sub-folders as well. Once you've done that you will see the music start to appear in the left hand window.
Correcting Mislabled Tracks
This works best when you're correcting entire albums at once. On the left hand side you should see the files you want to correct, if their tags are almost correct then you can use the fast method, if they are very wrong (badly titled album and/or artist then you need to use the slow method. Note
: It is possible to edit the ID3 tags inside Picard so you could select all the tracks from an album, fix the Artist and Album names, save the change and then use the Fast Method instead. You do this by selecting those tracks in question, right clicking and then selecting Details
Select the tracks you'd like to identify and click the Cluster
button at the top. This will sort your tracks into folders based on their album. Now simply select the albums you'd like to identify and click Lookup
. What this does is automatically correct all the selected items using their existing tags as a base, this is why this requires somewhat close or correct tags in the first place. Even if they are a bit off you can still try this method and then restart if it doesn't work as planned.
Type in the name of the album that the tracks are from into the search box in the top right hand corner of the Picard window. This will then take you to the Musicbrainz website and show you all albums matching the one you've searched for. Click the green Tagger
icon next to the one you'd like to use then go back into Picard. You should now see the album you selected in the right hand pane. To automatically sort your tracks, drag them from the left hand pane onto the album name in the right hand pane. This should then automatically assign them to the correct track titles. You can always move them around if it gets one or two wrong.
Once the tracks are assigned to the albums in the right hand pane, select the albums, right click and select Save
. This will save the new ID3 tags to all the tracks in those albums.
Identifying Unknown Tracks
If you've got no idea what a track is then you'll need to use the Scan
function. Click the track (or select multiple tracks) and then click the Scan
icon at the top of the window. This will then create a digital fingerprint of the track and try to identify what it is. If it is successful then it will move over to the right hand pane, into an Album (which will have just appeared if it didn't already exist). You can then right click the album and select Save
to save that new tag to the file.
So in summary: Lookup
tries to identify a track based on it's current ID3 tag (which may be wrong so this is only recommended if you know the tags are roughly correct to start with) and Scan
matches songs based on their unique fingerprint (although this can match the track to the wrong album as there's no way of it knowing which album the track is from if the song has been released on multiple).
Once you get the hang of Picard you will find it cleans up your music collection quickly and easily, but as with everything, it'll take a bit of fiddling to get used to all the quirks and matching anomalies first.