Bug in iTunes: : Album artist tag not being saved when converting from WMA...My iTunes library is a mess!

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I have yet another iTunes for Windows problem. I have a bunch of CD's I ripped to WMA format, and they all needed to be converted to M4A in order to play them on my iPhone. After nearly 20 hours of copying and converting all 2000+ of the files in iTunes, today I find out that none of the album artist info was saved on the M4A copies of the files. Because of this, under Albums, any compilation CD by various artists isn't grouped under various artists, but instead there are multiple appearances of the same album by each artist. Windows Explorer won't let me edit any metadata whatsoever for M4A format files, so I'm at a complete loss. The album artist info is there for MP3 files, but it isn't there for the converted M4A files. This makes it a pain in the neck to listen to albums on my iPhone. Please help!



Submitted by DPinWI on Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Are yu using your iPhone's Album tab? Generally, while the listing in iTunes will show by artist, and as you say, show multiple copies of the album, in the phone's player, you see all the tracks of the album together in the Album tab. One thing I did that made my life with iTunes much less frazzled was to give up on manual file management. By that I mean I had to stop worrying about the folder structure in the library, and the idea of manually editing tags or moving files, outside of iTunes. I do all of that in the iTunes interface, and let it worry about the file system on disk. This led me to seeing how files were organized both in iTunes, and in my music player. Sure it would be nice if everything worked the way it used to or the way I think it should. But once I figured out how it does work, it's not so bad. I wish there was a way to delete all album art. To me, it seems a colossal waste of space. Back when I used Windows Media Player, the art wasn't in the file, so I could go search for those files and make them go away. Now, they tend to be tucked inside the MP3. I gave up on worrying about it, and bought a bigger hard drive. I call it Apple Zen.

Submitted by DPinWI on Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A point of clarification. You say the Album Artist information is missing. To me, that would mean you'd see the tracks listed as "Track 1, Unknown Artist, Unknown Album." Since you say the albums are duplicated in the artist folders, all that info appears to be there. It's just sorting and presenting things differently than you expect, and want. Assuming my assumptions are even remotely correct, you have lots of options to change how things are sorted both in iTunes, and on your phone. In iTunes, I use the song listing view. I can search that listing by artist, album, playcount, or whatever else I choose based on what columns I have selected to be in that view. Clicking on column headers is a bit of a pain, so I usually make playlists for the various ways I wish to see and sort my library, aside from the other uses of playlists. This way, I only have to deal with the JAWS cursor finding the right column header once. Each playlist remembers its sort settings.

There is a metadata tag called Album Artist. That tag is what's not being saved when converting from WMA to M4A in iTunes. Because of this, no matter what view I'm in, whether it's on my phone or in iTunes, I'm seeing multiple copies of the same album, each one under a different artist name. I have Group By Album Artist turned on on my phone under Settings\Music, but it's still not grouping the files by album artist. This problem is only happening on the files I converted in iTunes from WMA to M4A. All MP3 files have the Album Artist tag, and they are grouped the way they should be. Either iTunes or JAWS won't let me rename artists, albums, or songs in iTunes. When I click the Get Info button for a file in iTunes, all I get is a blank summary tab with a Previous and a Next button regardless of file type, or at least that's what JAWS 14 is telling me. I'm beginning to think that I'd rather have another program besides iTunes convert my files from WMA to MP3 instead of M4A. Then the metadata would be saved and the files would be grouped correctly on my phone. I have over 2200 WMA files that need to be converted to MP3, so does anyone know of an accessible WMA to MP3 converter that can convert all my files at once?

Submitted by Josh C. on Thursday, February 20, 2014

I called Apple Care and told them about this problem yesterday, and it's apparently a known bug, at least in the Windows version of iTunes (I don't know if the Mac version has this bug.) This bug makes it impossible to listen to compilation albums by various artists on my phone unless I manually edit the tags for each album, which is going to be a royal pain. There apparently aren't many, if there are any, accessible batch audio file converters for Windows besides iTunes, or at least I haven't found any yet, so it looks like I'm stuck with editing the tags for 2,258 files manually! AAAARRRRG! A related question: Does anyone know what the Convert ID3 tags option does? I don't want to try it until I know for sure that it won't mess up my files any more than they're already messed up.

Submitted by LaBoheme on Thursday, February 20, 2014

In reply to by Josh C.

first of, converting from cd to wm then to m4a is not really a good idea, you just convert from lossless to loosy and then yet another loosy, that's by itself horrible. consider convert directly from cd to the file type you want directly, the meta tags should be properly inserted for you.

We're talking litterally hundreds of CD's here. These were ripped between 2007 and 2013. I already reripped some of them last Summer for another music player, but I still have hundreds of them I haven't reripped, and reripping all of them would probably take months. It's much easier to just convert the existing WMA files into a format that will play on my iPhone. By the way, if I convert to MP3 instead of M4A, the Album Artist tag is still not being saved.

Submitted by LaBoheme on Thursday, February 20, 2014

you don't want to rerip hundreds of cds, but rather convert thousands of WMA's? and consider it didn't do what you wanted, it didn't save you much time, did it? itunes is designed to grab meta info when you rip a cd, i'm not sure if the tags get carried over when you convert one file format to another, that might be the issue. you can try xld, it will do what you wanted.

I know its been over a year since you made that comment but I have had the same problem and couldn't find an answer on-line.

The reason the tags wont save is because the file attributes are set to Read Only. Simply select all the files in a folder, right click and go to properties, remove the 'Read Only' check box. fixed the problem for me. Has nothing to do with the format of the file as people previously thought.

Hopefully you figured it out and didnt have to manually change all the tags.