How Do You Tag Songs With Featured Performers?

How Do You Tag Songs With Featured Performers?

Keeping your digital music tagged with artist and title details is essential if you want to find a particular track, and it’s pretty uncontroversial if the song in question is performed by a single artist. But what if it’s one of the innumerable songs ‘featuring’ a guest performance by another artist?

Popjustice discusses this issue in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek post, arguing that the best approach is to tag the song with the main artist and include the ‘featuring’ detail as part of the song title:

That seems like a good solution to me — it means that all the tracks by a given artist will still be grouped together, rather than ending up in a different list — but I imagine there could be other approaches. How do you tackle it? Tell us in the comments. If your music collection is anything but organised, check out our guide to getting your music metadata into shape and our roundup of the best MP3 tagging tools.

The Popjustice Surgery is OPEN. Today: a feat worse than death [Popjustice]


  • Use the Artist and Album Artist fields. That way the Artist for the entire Album is correct, but an Individual song might have a different (set) of artists.


    Song – Album Artist – Artist
    I Just Had Sex – The Lonely Island – The Lonely Island Featuring Akon
    Motherlover – the Lonely Island – The Lonely Island featuring Justin Timberlake


  • For albums that are pretty much by one Artist/Group but has guest artists on particular tracks, I’ll use the convention recommended above (plus, I also always make sure the under-utilised Album Artist tag is set correctly).

    For albums that are truly compilations then the individual artists are in the Artist tag, with “Various Artists” for Album Artist.

    Often original score soundtracks will have all tracks by the composer but for one or two by a well known artist. In this case the Album Artist is the composer, and Artist is the individual.

    Seems to work reasonably well if you have a good media player such as Clementine. Would really love to see apps that use Album Artist as a primary key, though.

    • Windows Media Player uses Album Artist as the primary key, but has f***ed it up in recent releases by pseudo-prepopulating that field with the Artist of the first track. I say “pseudo” because it looks like the field is populated but it’s actually not. If you’re not careful, editing the Album Artist field in WMP will mean all the Artist fields are overwritten, which royally stuffs up compilations. So edit everything outside WMP, say using MP3Tag and then the data should appear properly indexed in WMP if you use it.

      Also WMP’s immutable online database is stuffed, so don’t use it to get metadata. Half the time I get Japanese text from it.

  • While I use all my fields such as Album Artist, Comments etc I’m also a big user of the semicolen ;

    In MediaMonkey (and others as far as I know) this allows you to assign multiple artists to the same field say

    Say: “Louis Armstrong; Ella Fitzgerald” That will put the song under both Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald

    This also allows for Artists who have several band incarnations again with Louis Armstrong I’ll have say
    Louis Armstrong; Louis Armstrong & His All Stars
    Louis Armstrong; Louis Armstrong & His Kansas City 7
    Louis Armstrong; Louis Armstrong Orchestra

    This means Louis Armstrong will show all my Louie but then I can have it sorted by his specific bands too

  • step 1: never use itunes for anything ever.

    step 2: install winamp

    step 3: rename mp3 files with tagscan and then remove all ID3 tagging all together with tagscan

    step 4: find the cover of the album and insert that, and only that for the ID3 tag

    step 5: any featured artists put in brackets at the end of the song… (which tag scan will do for you anyway most of the time)

    ….this is THE BEST way to make sure all your mp3 files are nice and clean, and searchable.

  • I always put the primary album artist as the single album artist (this makes my iPod artist list much shorter and neater!) and the featured artist next to the song title, ie: Somebody I Used to Know (feat. Kimbra) – Gotye.

  • There should just be a Featuring tag. That would solve all problems. ITunes, Musicbee, WMP,, Spotify and all other music apps and services should support this and there will never be anyone whining about it and every database would be clean!

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