How to make MP3 ID3 tags show when an audio CD is burned

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Joined: 01/12/2004

Hi Tony,

This is what you wrote in one of your articles about MP3 ID3 tags:

Quote:In regards to music files, the metadata is the information about the audio that is embedded in the file, such as the artist, title, etc. For MP3 files (and some other file formats), the standard is ID3 tags. This is important so that you don't have an untagged audio file out there with no information to bring back the listener to the source. Give credit where credit is due!

Almost every MP3 encoding application (including iTunes) allows you to enter metadata into the file in the form of ID3 tags.

I totally agree with your point that it's important to keep the id3 tags intact. However, when I use itunes, even when I ensure all songs are using id3 v2.2 by right clicking each song before I burned them into CD, the outcome (the cd) still doesn't contain any data. It only display "track 1" unknown artist...... I'd love my friend have the title of the song that they are listening to. Do you have any idea that you can help?

thanks a lot in advance,

Joined: 02/12/2009

Hi Patty-

This is a good question. When you burn a playlist of MP3s to an audio CD, the information is lost, but there is an easy way to get it back. (On the other hand, if you burn your MP3s to a data CD-R, the info is kept, but the CD can't be played in an ordinary CD player. If you burn the mp3s to a specific format of data CD-R called an "MP3 CD", the info is kept, AND the music will play in certain DVD players and recent CD players that can play an MP3 CD. But your question was about burning a CD which is universally playable...)

The trick is to upload the info to the CDDB "tracklist in the sky". (Note that this method requires a live internet connection.)

When you first burn the CD in iTunes, your system knows that this new CD has the same tracks as your playlist, so it shows the tracknames on the new CD. But this info is not actually encoded on the CD. (It just creates a new entry in the program's internal list.)

Next, click once on the CD in the Source list, and select "Submit CD Track Names" from the "Advanced" menu. It might prompt you to choose a genre. iTunes uploads the info about your CD to the huge database of CD tracklists.

When your friend inserts the CD into their computer (using many apps including iTunes), the info is automatically downloaded, if the preference "Connect To Internet When Needed" is on. Or, they might need to select "Get CD Track Names" from the "Advanced" menu. (Other apps have similar menu items.)

Cool! You could even put a personalized message to your friend; name the mix after them, or even put more info in the "comments" field of each track. But don't make it too personal... here's why:

Notice that I used the word "almost" a few times above. There are occasions where there are multiple potential matches. In that case, the software should give you a list to choose from.

Keep in mind that it's all based on user submissions. There are lots of errors in there. So do your part, and correct any errors you find, fill in more info fields, and resubmit the info! Here's a long article I wrote on my recommendations for filling in the metadata:

Here's the geeky details on how this system works:

Every CD has an almost-unique "fingerprint" which identifies it, based on the precise length of the CD. Since every second of CD digital audio has 44,100 samples of audio, an hour-long CD has 158,760,000 samples. Of course, almost every CD has a slightly different length, when measured by the total number of samples. (Based on my experience, I don't think it looks at the number of tracks on the CD to further refine it's identification.)

Therefore, each CD can be identified with a very good level of accuracy. As long as people take the time to submit accurate info (which is not guaranteed, nor automatic), the database grows.

There are other companies who maintain their own database as well (FreeDB, etc.), and some music player apps allow you to choose which database to connect to. Gracenote's CDDB has over 3.5 million CDs in it:

Joined: 05/18/2005

Thanks loads, Tony, for providing such a detailed reply!!!

Not only now I know the answer, I even understand it. However, I JUST discovered I don't have the feature "submit CD track name" that you mentioned, thus I can't do anything about it. I guess I should just use old school musicmatch, or other apps to burn my compilation cd then.

regardless, your prompt detailed response is much appreciated.


Joined: 02/12/2009

hmmm. What version of iTunes are you running? And is it a PC or Mac?

Joined: 02/12/2009

Patty replied off-forum that she was running an older version of iTunes for PC, v4.0.24. I suggested that she try a more recent version (4.8 as of 5/2005). Perhaps that older version of iTunes didn't have the function "Submit CD Track Names" yet? But that's odd, because the Mac version has had that function for years.

I suspect that another unknown bit of info is missing.

Joined: 06/09/2005

On a related topic, when I burn a compilation audio CD, it is automatically ejected from the CD burner and when I re-insert, Itunes doesn't remember the tracks names. Any idea how to fix this?