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4/12/04 When MP3 tags are MIA

(Note to our readers: Many user submissions this week included their recommendations for ID3 tag editors. These program recommendation have NOT been validated by us, so please use caution and your best judgment when downloading and using these programs. Use at your own risk. Thank you.)


Question:

When I play certain MP3 songs that I've downloaded on my computer, they don't display the name of the song or artist. And it happens in both MusicMatch and Windows Media Player! Is there any way to fix this?

--Submitted by member: Randy M. of Babylon, NY

Answer:

There is a couple of ways to do that, first you must understand that the information about a song (for example, the title of the song and name of the artist) is encoded into the song's file, in a section called the ID3 tag. When your app doesn't display the name or artist, it's because this info is missing in the file.

The solution is to edit this portion of the file. A lot of applications called ID3 tags editors exist that are basically tools that help you to create or modify the tags of your songs. More advanced ones let you work with multiple songs at the same time to quickly change them (such as for an album). A search on Downloads.com for "id3 tag editor" gives you 40 potential apps. Two that I find interesting are:

ID3-TagIT -- http://www.id3-tagit.de/english/index.htm
Tag&Rename -- http://www.softpointer.com/tr.htm

There is also some websites that are compiling ID3 information from users or official song database (for example CCDB.) You can perform a search by album or performer, rarely by song title, to find all the information about a specific album. There are some of that are commercial, here is a free one:

freedb.org -- http://freedb.org/

There are currently some projects that are in the working on an automatic song detection feature. Basically, it will detect your song based on it's binary signature and download all the information from a web database. You don't have to type anything. They are still relatively new and their efficiency is about 50% (that is songs that are correctly detected).

FixTunes -- http://www.fixtunes.com/ (you have to pay)
Music Brainz -- http://www.musicbrainz.org/ (free)

And finally, if you just want to go an easy route, this is a player (pretty much like a WINAMP rip with modifications) that allow you to edit your ID3 tags. It has an "autotag" button that allow you to download the missing fields in your tags (but there must already be some tags). You don't have to type anything. In case of multiple choices, it will prompt you to select the more appropriate. I tried it and it's works very well.

Quintessential CD Player -- http://www.quinnware.com/index.php (right-click a song and go to edit and then click autotag button)

So here it is, hope this will help.

--Submitted by member: Maurice D. of Montr
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Re:Mar. 29, 2004 Membership Q&A Newsletter

In reply to: 4/12/04 When MP3 tags are MIA

Check out http://id3man.com where they can identify your MP3 song by its song thumbprint compared with its database of several hundred thousand songs and populate its ID3 tags automatically. It works like "name that tune". Totally different approach than CDDB. Works like magic!

Cheap too.

HTH

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Re:Mar. 29, 2004 Membership Q&A Newsletter

In reply to: 4/12/04 When MP3 tags are MIA

You'd be wise to check out Winamp as your player, as it gives you more control over tag interaction and how they're used, as well as boasting a much larger plugin and customisation than other players.
As for editing the tags, i'm yet to see a better program than mp3tag studio (http://www.magnusbrading.com/mp3ts/) which is easy to use, offers huge complexity for advanced users, and has the advantage of a q&a forum where the developer (magnus braiding) answers your questions almost immediately. Also, it's uncrippled shareware, which is nice.

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