When you play back an MP3 song, you can often see the song name, the name of the artist, and sometimes other information about the tune. Where does it come from, and how is it stored inside an MP3 file? The answer is MP3 tags.
Before we talk about MP3 tags, let’s look at the MP3 format itself. MP3 is a de-facto standard in audio formats used on personal computers and in portable audio players. The device can support any number of formats, but rest assured that MP3 will be one of them. By storing your collection in the MP3 format, you’re making it pretty future-proof, ensuring your audio will play fine with newly released players.
MP3 files can be tagged with meta information, telling your player the name of the song, the name of the artist, the tune’s number in the playlist, and many other bits of information. Currently, two versions of MP3 tags exist: ID3v1 and ID3v2.
The original intent of MP3 tags was to provide information about what’s playing. Portable audio players display song and artist names, and arrange playlists according to information specified in MP3 tags. When using a PC, you’re not limited to just seeing MP3 tags. You can download tags from online databases to obtain more comprehensive information about a song. You can rename files to match names of the songs, or you can name your files to begin with their playlist order number. Or you can use any combination of available fields to name files the way you like.
MP3 tags make it easy to manage your collection. You can sort songs by the artist, album or publisher, or you can create a multi-level folder structure based on information extracted from MP3 files such as making a separate folder for each artist, then a subfolder to represent the year, then another subfolder to represent the album (and if the album contains more than one disk, you can take that into account as well). With today’s advanced MP3 tag management tools such as mp3Tag Pro you can do all that with ease.
Information stored in your MP3 files can be incomplete or incorrect. You can use an MP3 tag editor to fill out empty fields or replace incorrect records of MP3 tags. While it may sound difficult, in fact it is not. Even if you have a bunch of MP3 files with incorrect information in some of the fields (such as the artist name or album year), you can simply select all of them and fill in the correct information for all files at once. Similarly, if a track number is missing but filenames still contain the number, you can copy that information from the filenames into the MP3 tags of all files with just a few clicks. And of course, if some of the data is missing, you can download the information from one of the many online databases. A good MP3 editing tool can do all that in full auto mode.
Original creators of MP3 files allow either tagging files manually, or downloading information from one of several online databases. There are quite a few databases available that contain information about songs. CDDB, FreeDB, MusicBrainz, and other databases contain millions of records about pretty much every song ever produced. MP3 tag management tools such as mp3Tag Pro can automatically download information from such databases, replacing missing or wrong fields in your MP3 files with correct information.
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