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iTunes Various Artists vs Compliations

I was having a problem where lots of my music had Various Artists in the Artists and Album Artists fields.  iTunes treated the term Various Artists as an actual title rather than a tag to help sort albums that had mixed artists.  When I tried to delete the name, iTunes kept filling it back up with Various Artists which was really annoying. I went through several forums to figure out what was going wrong and there were several ‘workarounds’ but none so far really answered the problem or had a reasonable solution.  It really seemed odd that Apple would make it that hard to sort music in their crown jewel app. So after messing around with it for half a day I would like to present to you the actual solution.

If Various Artists is in either the Artists or Album Artists field, it will auto fill it back in if you try to delete it. First, find all the songs that belong in the same album with various artists like a soundtrack or mixed DJ session. Select all the songs, right click and select Get Info or Get Album Info. Check the ‘Album is a compilation’ field and then delete Various artists from both Artists or Album Artists field.  That’s it. iTunes thinks Various Artists is a name so it should not be in any Artists field otherwise it will automatically populate the fields.  The correct way to sort a mixed album is to call it a Compilation. However if you do not follow the above instructions exactly then iTunes will not be able to move the album out of the Artists folder and into the Compilations folder, assuming you have ‘Keep iTunes Media Folder Organized’ checked in Preferences.

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