iTunes: "Sort Artist" does not override "Artist" field

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by acosmichippo, May 11, 2011.

  1. acosmichippo macrumors regular

    May 7, 2008
    hey everyone. So i've run into a pretty bizarre issue - actually i did a long while ago, but only just now really tried to start figuring it out. So my intention is to list all artists according to their last name, which for the most part has worked perfectly by putting "Last, First" in the "Sort Artist" field.


    For two artists in my library (Imogen Heap and Kevin Moore), the "Sort Artist" field does not override the Artist field. I have also tried using the "Album Artist" field as well, but this has no effect either.

    For an illustration, in these two pictures you can see that Imogen Heap is listed under "I" despite the fact that the "Sort Artist" is "Heap, Imogen".

    Info Tab

    Sorting Tab

    Now for something really weird... I went out on a limb and simply added a "." onto the end of the "Artist" field ("Imogen Heap." in this example). As you can see in the following picture, it worked! This works for both Imogen Heap and Kevin Moore. I'm not sure what the heck that means, but I'd rather not have to leave it like that.

    Info Tab

    Sorting Tab

    You can also see in those pics that plenty of artists do sort by their last name just fine (Stuart Hamm, Jan Hammer, Herbie Hancock, etc.).

    So that's where I'm at. I've done google searching, Apple Support searching, MacRumors searching, and haven't come across anyone with this issue. I think it may be just some bizarre database issue with my particular iTunes library. Anyway, any and all input or suggestions are welcome.
  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Actually, you should be using Album Artist, rather than Artist, for sorting albums. iTunes uses Album and Album Artist to determine albums.
  3. acosmichippo thread starter macrumors regular

    May 7, 2008
    I'm not sure what you mean by that since Artist/Sort Artist works great for the rest of my library, but I have actually tried using "Album Artist" and "Sort Album Artist" for these particular artists- they also had no effect.
  4. Jolly Giant macrumors 6502a

    Jolly Giant

    Sep 15, 2010
    Hamburg, Germany
    you might find this excellent user tip by Steve MacGuire useful.
  5. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    I've never had the problem you're describing. For iTunes to recognize an Album and sort all tracks together, it looks at 4 fields, which should have matching data on all tracks:
    • Album
    • Album Artist
    • Sort Album
    • Sort Album Artist
    If these fields have matching data on all tracks, the tracks of the album will sort together and the album will sort correctly by Album or Album Artist. Leaving Album Artist blank, as you have done, will create problems if you have albums where many artists perform on the same album. Of course, you can do it any way you like, but the sort issue shouldn't happen and you shouldn't have to include a decimal point in the name to force a proper sort.
  6. acosmichippo thread starter macrumors regular

    May 7, 2008
    I'm familiar with using the Album Artist fields to force multiple artist albums to display as one, but that's really a separate issue to what i'm seeing here. As I said, I tried using that field to remedy this situation, and it had no effect.

    I'll look over those other suggestions, and report back.

    Thanks for the responses.
  7. ReggaeFire macrumors 6502

    Mar 19, 2003
    Did you try restarting iTunes to see if it took effect? Starting a couple versions ago I noticed a bug in iTunes that the sort tag changes are not always picked up by the database until the library is refreshed in some manner, either relaunching iTunes, or just altering a different tag (the artist tag, for example, which is why adding the period caused it to work).
  8. acosmichippo, May 12, 2011
    Last edited: May 12, 2011

    acosmichippo thread starter macrumors regular

    May 7, 2008
    I've noticed that too, but unfortunately doesn't appear to be the culprit in this case. In fact, if I remove that period, the artist is immediately sorted back to under their first name.

    So just to make sure I haven't been doing things wrong this whole time, you guys recommend I use the following tags for Imogen Heap:

    Artist: Imogen Heap
    Album Artist: Imogen Heap
    Sort Artist: Heap, Imogen
    Sort Album Artist: Heap, Imogen

    ...right? And likewise for Kevin Moore, of course.


    So as another shot in the dark, I deleted all tracks from the Kevin Moore album, and re-imported it from the original CD. I entered in the artist tags as described above, and now it works. Go figure. I'll give it a shot tomorrow with Imogen.

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