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Author Topic: Unofficial Solution for Zune 2.x software meta tag issue  (Read 23604 times)
WillysJeepMan
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« on: December 05, 2007, 11:01:40 AM »

UNOFFICIAL SOLUTION
Zune 2.x software metadata tag issue

Note: For the purposes of this solution, we will be focusing on .mp3 files.

BACKGROUND

WHAT ARE METADATA TAGS?
Metadata tags are pieces of information embedded inside .mp3 files.  These pieces of information are optional.  They are also referred to as ID3 tags.  This information can include: Artist, Track Title, Track number, Album, Album Artist, Genre, Year produced, etc.  It can even include a graphic image of the album art.

HOW ARE METADATA TAGS VIEWED & MODIFIED?
The most reliable way to view and modify metadata tags is to use a dedicated tag editing tool.  There are plenty of excellent tools for this purpose.  I use and recommend MP3Tag: http://www.mp3tag.de/en/

Note: Some people prefer to use Windows Media Player or other music "library" software (like Media Monkey, iTunes, etc.)  If you choose to do so, make sure that they are actually updating the embedded information in the mp3 files themselves and NOT simply updating information in their internal databases (that they use to organize music collections).

PHYSICAL LOCATION IS IRRELEVANT
The actual location of the mp3 files have no effect on how they are cataloged by the Zune software.  You could keep all of your mp3 files in a single directory/folder. (NOT recommended).  I prefer to keep a folder for each album, and put those album folders in a folder for each artist. 

eg.
\My Music
\My Music\Santana\Abraxas
\My Music\Santana\Moonflower



CAUSES

In dealing with this issue it helps to understand that there are actually a few different issues related to the Zune 2.x desktop software.

1.MISSING or ERRONEOUS METADATA TAGS
The first issue is that many people obtain their music tracks from various sources.  Not all sources provide metadata tag information.  Tags need to be EXACT.  Artist="BeeGees" is treated differently than Artist="Bee Gees" (note the space in the name).

Any miscataloging of music due to erroneous or missing metadata tags is the fault of the user, not the Zune 2.x software.

2.MIGRATING FROM 1.x SOFTWARE to 2.x
The next issue is that people have experienced scrambled libraries as a result of upgrading from the 1.x Zune software to 2.x.  Assuming that all metadata tags were correct, this is a result of a legitimate bug in the Zune 2.x software.  The Zune Team has acknowledged the problem and released a fix to correct that issue.  This update is only helpful for people who haven't yet upgraded from 1.x.  It is not of any help if you are already at the 2.x software.

3.ID3 TAG ENCODING RECOGNITION LIMITATIONS
There are different ways that ID3 metadata tag information can be encoded.  Think about how video can be encoded different ways.  It can be MPEG1, wmv, DivX, MOV, etc.

Metadata tags are the same way.  There are different character sets (definitions of alphanumeric data) that can be used.  UTF-8, UTF-16, and ISO-8859-1 are three such character sets.

It appears that the new software prefers one encoding over the others.  That doesn't necessarily mean that files encoded in the other methods won't be read at all, but only that under certain (and as of yet, unknown) conditions the tag data can be misinterpreted.

It's kinda like English, Spanish, and Italian.  There are some words in Spanish that sound very similar to Italian, and a Spanish speaking person might be able to pick out those words in Italian and understand a bit what is being said.

What this means is that even if the artist appears to be correct in the tag, it can be misinterpreted by the Zune 2.x software.  It is also what has caused so much frustration with people who can clearly see that their tags are correct and yet do not get cataloged properly.

Tracks can have 2 sets of ID3 tags... ID3 v1 and any flavor of ID3 v2.  If your v1 tags say one thing but your v2 tags say another, that's going to cause confusion.


SOLUTIONS

IMPORTANT NOTE: Before proceeding with any of these solutions, make sure to disable the 2.x software from updating album/media information.  To do this within the 2.x software: click settings -> software -> collection and uncheck Options - Automatically update album art and media information.

1.MISSING or ERRONEOUS METADATA TAGS
The fix for this problem is to go through all of the tracks in your library and ensure that all important information (Album, Artist, Band (or Album Artist), Track name, Track Number, Genre, etc.) is correct and consistent.  Compilation albums should have "Various Artists" value as the BAND tag, while the ARTIST tag should contain the artist of that particular track.

NOTE: Use a dedicated ID3 tag editor for this.

2.MIGRATING FROM 1.x SOFTWARE to 2.x
If you are already using 2.x, it is best to rebuild the catalog.  (see zune.net forum for official instructions on the various ways in which the catalog can be rebuilt)

3.ID3 TAG ENCODING RECOGNITION LIMITATIONS
Ensure that your ID3 tags are being encoded in ID3 v2.3 UTF-16 *AND* remove any ID3 v1 tags.  If you are using MP3Tag, click on tools -> options... -> Tags -> Mpeg and make sure that the settings are exactly as depicted here:


Before performing this, try it out on a single album that you know has correct ID3 tags but is not appearing correctly in the 2.x software.
To rewrite the tags easily, select all tracks by clicking on a single track in the list and pressing Ctrl-A.  Then click on the diskette icon to save.

UPDATING THE COLLECTION IN ZUNE 2.x

Now that the metadata tag information is correct, the last and final step is to update the Zune 2.x library.  Again, before doing this for your entire library, first try it out on a single troublesome album to see what the results are.

1. Delete the album from the Zune software
Simply right-mouse-button click on the album and select "Delete".   

IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure that you select Keep file(s) but remove from collection.

2. Add the album to the Zune software
Even if the folder is included in the "monitored folders", using Windows explorer, drag and drop the folder containing that album onto the main area of the Zune software.  You may need to wait 30 seconds or so before the album appears.

3. Force Album Art (if necessary)
There are times where the Zune software refuses to display album art.   To increase the chances that the correct album art is displayed, place the album art in the folder containing the particular album and name the file:  ZuneAlbumArt.jpg

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
I've had numerous reports back from people who had exerienced cataloging issues with the new software that by following these procedures their problems have been resolved.

As with any unofficial process, proceed at your own risk.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
EXHAUSTIVE STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS
FOR GETTING THE ZUNE SOFTWARE TO
CORRECTLY RECOGNIZE A MUSIC LIBRARY
There's definitely issues with how the Zune software imports metadata tags.  And there are some instances where the current recommendations do not fix the problems.  Here's the only method that I know works:

PASS 1 - Prepare your files
  • Use a dedicated ID3 tag editor, I highly recommend MP3Tag.
  • Ensure that all of your tags are correct.  That means consistency in case and text. (eg. "Bee Gees", "BeeGees", and "bee GeeS" will be considered 3 different artists).
  • For typical albums set the "BAND" tag equal to the "ARTIST" tag for each track.  For compilation albums with multiple artists, set the ARTIST tag to the actual artist for the particular track, and set the BAND tag to "Various Artists".
  • Embed album art as a tag into each track.
  • Place a folder.jpg of the album art in each respective album folder/directory.
  • Ensure that you are using ID3 v2.3-UTF-16 encoding for your tags.  Do not set v1 tags.


PREPARE THE ZUNE SOFTWARE
  • Remove all folder entries from the Zune Software "monitored folders" setting.
  • Remove your albums from the Zune collection making sure that you specify to KEEP and NOT DELETE the actual files.
  • Uncheck the "automatically update album art and media information".
  • Drag and drop your music folders onto the Zune software.
  • Wait 5 minutes or so for it to process all of the newly added tracks.
  • Browse your collection.
  • Take note of albums that do not display album art.
  • Take note of albums that have scattered tracks.
  • Remove albums that do not display album art from the Zune collection (make sure to KEEP and NOT DELETE the actual files)
  • Remove albums that have scattered tracks from the Zune collection (make sure to KEEP and NOT DELETE the actual files)

PASS 2 - Modifying tags & files to work around Zune Software deficiencies
  • For albums with missing or incorrect album art, copy the FOLDER.JPG file to ZuneAlbumArt.jpg in the same folder.
  • For albums with scattered tracks, ensure that ARTIST, BAND, and ALBUM tags are all 100% correct.

UPDATE THE COLLECTION IN THE ZUNE SOFTWARE
  • Start the Zune software.
  • Drag and drop the albums corrected/adjusted in "pass 2" onto the Zune software.  Wait for the software to process the files.
  • Browse your collection.
  • (At this point all album art should be correct)  If there is still incorrect/missing album art, then Right click on the album -> select album art -> traverse to the album's folder and select the ZuneAlbumArt.jpg file.  If it still isn't correct, wait a few minutes.... the Zune software can take quite a bit of time to register the updated art.
  • (At this point all albums should be correctly cataloged)  If there are still scattered albums, make note of those albums.
  • Remove albums that have scattered tracks from the Zune collection (make sure to KEEP and NOT DELETE the actual files)

PASS 3 - The "Hail Mary" Pass
  • For albums with scattered tracks, configure you ID3 tag editor to write both ID3 v2.3 UTF-16 and ID3 v1 tags.
  • Rewrite metadata tags for those tracks.  (both v2.3 UTF-16 and v1 tags should be written)

UPDATE THE COLLECTION IN THE ZUNE SOFTWARE
(ONE LAST TIME)

  • Start the Zune software.
  • Drag and drop the albums corrected/adjusted in "pass 3" onto the Zune software.  Wait for the software to process the files.
  • Browse your collection.
  • At this point your collection should display correctly in the software.


NOTES:
As best as I can tell, the Zune software has some peculiar ways of dealing with ID3 tags.  First, if a track has both v1 and v2.3 tags, it appears to prefer the v1 tags over the v2.3.  The problem with this is that there is a length limit on how long the values of v1 tags can be.   Values can get truncated or "chopped off" causing tracks to "appear" to be part of a different album or artist.  But it also appears that the software has trouble dealing with SOME v2.3 UTF-16 tags.  So my method attempts to use the v2.3 UTF-16 tags as much as possible and only resorts to including v1 tags as well for those particular tracks that are causing the Zune software problems.

This can be a lot of work.  It isn't an acceptable or preferable way to handle a media library, but it works for now.  I'm willing to be patient and give the Zune Team some time to fix the bugs and limitations.  If a fix isn't forthcoming within a month or so, then I'll simply go back to using the 1.x software.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2008, 07:32:04 AM by WillysJeepMan » Logged

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Ricardo Dawkins
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« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2007, 03:30:03 PM »

well done, sracer. Now, MS fix that thing already. btw, my tracks are encoded in UTF-16 and no problem since Zune software was installed on Nov. 13. Two installs on 2 machines.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2007, 07:39:56 AM by Ricardo Dawkins » Logged

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WillysJeepMan
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« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2007, 12:23:39 PM »

well done, sracer. Now, MS fix that thing already. btw, my tracks are encoded in UTF-16 and no problem since Zune software was installed on Nov. 13. Two installs on 2 machines.
Thanks for the update... Do your tracks also happen to have ID3 v1 tags?  The reason for asking is that changing to UTF-16 didn't work for me when I originally stumbed across this, but they also happened to have v1 tags.  So I'm wondering if there is some sort of priority scheme used by the Zune software.
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« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2007, 01:50:40 PM »

That is very helpful - thanks for posting that guide.
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sonicbox
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« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2007, 02:13:29 PM »

I disagree with the forced switch to ID3v2.4 in the solution.   ID3v2.3 with ANSI or UTF-16 is the de facto standard for cross-compatibility.  Even mp3tag's default setting is ID3v2.3 and not ID3v2.4.

The new Zune software may read it in some scenarios, but even the OS media SDK doesn't handle it.  For example: If you only have a ID3v2.4 tag by itself in an MP3 file, you likely can't even see the metadata from Explorer or load it into WMP 11.)

If it reads anything, you are probably reading the limited ID3v1 tag only... which in your mp3tag setting example, you have enabled.

If you want to test, try keeping the ID3v2.4 tag without ID3v1 and see how it works...
« Last Edit: December 06, 2007, 02:19:10 PM by sonicbox » Logged
WillysJeepMan
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« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2007, 02:46:16 PM »

Thanks sonicbox and Ricardo.  I did run some more testing with some particularly stubborn albums.  (I had to release the Zune software Mod toolkit first)

You guys are correct... that ID3 v2.3 UTF-16 do indeed work provided that v1 tags are removed.  If v1 tags DO exist, it looks like the Zune software reads THAT (which can cause problems).  The only way to override v1 tags is to have v2.4  tags.  That matches with what I've been experiencing.

I will update the guide with this information.

update: guide and screenshot have been updated.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2007, 03:01:02 PM by WillysJeepMan » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2007, 11:11:14 AM »

well done, sracer. Now, MS fix that thing already. btw, my tracks are encoded in UTF-16 and no problem since Zune software was installed on Nov. 13. Two installs on 2 machines.
Thanks for the update... Do your tracks also happen to have ID3 v1 tags? 
I write and read both versions. ID3v1 (for compatibility with old softwares) and ID3v2.

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« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2007, 07:07:30 PM »

thanks. unfortunately, this did not work for me.  Embarrassed
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WillysJeepMan
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« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2007, 08:49:57 PM »

thanks. unfortunately, this did not work for me.  Embarrassed
What specific albums, tracks, and artists are you having difficulties with?  Just 1 album's-worth should be enough.   If possible, if you could post a single track (to examine the tags) that would help... but barring that: post the exact album name, artist, track names, and track numbers, and band name.  I'd like to see if I could recreate it.
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sonicbox
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« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2007, 10:25:51 PM »

You guys are correct... that ID3 v2.3 UTF-16 do indeed work provided that v1 tags are removed.  If v1 tags DO exist, it looks like the Zune software reads THAT (which can cause problems).  The only way to override v1 tags is to have v2.4  tags.  That matches with what I've been experiencing.
Just for grins, do your test using ID3 v2.3 with ISO-8859-1 (aka ANSI) and also write v1 tags... I maintain all my files with both v2.3 and v1 & everything behaves correctly. The v2.3 tag always takes priority for me; the v1 is only used for ancient applications or devices that can't read v2.
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« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2007, 01:06:15 AM »

When I update tags... do I really have to remove the song from my library and put it back in?  I have several songs that are just singles and I'd really rather not change the tags for about 50 songs then have to hunt every single one of them down to put them back into the program.......
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WillysJeepMan
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« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2007, 06:46:59 AM »

You guys are correct... that ID3 v2.3 UTF-16 do indeed work provided that v1 tags are removed.  If v1 tags DO exist, it looks like the Zune software reads THAT (which can cause problems).  The only way to override v1 tags is to have v2.4  tags.  That matches with what I've been experiencing.
Just for grins, do your test using ID3 v2.3 with ISO-8859-1 (aka ANSI) and also write v1 tags... I maintain all my files with both v2.3 and v1 & everything behaves correctly. The v2.3 tag always takes priority for me; the v1 is only used for ancient applications or devices that can't read v2.
In my experience, the new Zune software  reads the v1 tags before reading the v2 tags.  I ran some further experiments as a result of some of the comments here and discovered that to be the case... so I updated the process to remove v1 tags.

The thing to remember (and remind myself as well) is that this issue doesn't affect everyone in the same way.  Some can skip merrily along without ever encountering a problem, while others have completely jumbled libraries... even though all tags are "logically" correct (logically:  correct tag values).

The only thing that seems to universally correct their problems is changing the encoding of the tags. 

There's most definitely bugs in the new software with regard to metadata tags.  The exact nature of these bugs only the Zune team knows (and maybe even then, they're still researching).

All that to say this, if a person is not having problems with the new software cataloging their music, then this process can be disregarded.  "It's not broke, no need for a fix".  But for those who ARE experiencing problems, this will help.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2007, 06:48:37 AM by WillysJeepMan » Logged

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WillysJeepMan
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« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2007, 07:29:28 AM »



bump for visibility... I've directed quite a few people from zune.net to visit this forum for this issue.
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« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2007, 01:37:18 PM »

Am I totally screwed if my files are in .wma format?  If not, any suggestions on how I can fix my media library?  I'm already running 2.x.  :-(

Thanks in advance.
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WillysJeepMan
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« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2008, 07:32:32 AM »

another bump... I added exhaustive step-by-step instructions.
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