Support for multiple album artists is a new concept introduced in Helium 14 and is unique for any media management system.
The background behind this feature is that an album should be able to be connected to more than one album artist, in theory it can be any number of album artists.
An album artist is an instance of a “real” artist meaning that it can have a picture, biography and more data assigned.
An album artist can have specific tracks assigned (he/she have released tracks where he/she appears as an artist) or only occur as an album artist. If the album artist does not have any tracks assigned, the artist will still be visible in the artist view, but with a track count of zero.
This concept is very versatile but can be a bit complex to understand so be sure to read the information below in detail.
In depth information when files are added or changed
If an album without any album artists and all tracks have the same artist is added to the library, the album artist will automatically be set to the artist taken from tracks.
If an album without any album artists and the tracks have different artists is added to the library, the album artist will be set to “Various artists”
If the tags for an album is all set to album artist A is added to the library, the album artist will be set to A.
If album artist for the tracks on an album is set to A for the first half of the files and B to the rest of the files, album artist will be presented as “A, B” but both A and B will be browsable from the artist details page. This technique can be used when tagging albums with multiple CDs where one specific artist has produced or mixed one of the CDs.
If the album is produced, mixed (etc) by multiple album artists (applies to all tracks), set album artist to A/B/C for each track (use / as a separator between album artists). When adding this album to the database the album artist will be presented as “A, B, C” and all individual album artists will be browsable from the album details page.
In depth information when files are tagged or otherwise modified
The same logic as in the adding cases are applied during tagging.
If you mix multiple album artists per track, for example three tracks with A, three tracks with B and the rest of the tracks with C/D, the resulting album artist will be displayed as “A, B, C, D” and all four album artists will be connected to the album.
Controlling album artist sort order
Sort order is inherited from the artist sort order field except for cases when an album contains more than one album artist. If an album contains the album artists A, B and C, the album artist will be displayed as “A, B, C” and the album artist sort order will also be set to “A, B, C”.
You can manually control the sort order for these exceptions where Helium cannot determine an exact sort order by right-clicking an album and select “Change sort order”. Please note that the sort order you apply will not be saved to tags.
From the Artists view, click the disc icon to display artists that only occurs as album artists. Albums which does not contain multiple album artists or even no album artists set on tags but comes from the same artist is treated as an album artist and will be shown when the filter is active. If the filter is not active, both artists which are not album artists as well as “real” album artists will be shown in this view.
Migrating from earlier Helium versionsWhen you start or open an old Helium database, Helium will automatically migrate existing data to support multiple album artists. No data will be written to tags during the migration process. Helium will only fill data into a new table and possibly update the albums table for albums that have multiple album artists. The process is fully automatic.
By default automatic extraction of multiple album artists is disabled. When enabled, Helium will use the rules for multiple artist extraction to split an album artist string into one or more artists. Examples when this setting is enabled:
- Dune -> resulting album artist will be set to Dune
- Dune with London Symphony Orchestra -> resulting album artist will be set to "Dune" and "London Symphony Orchestra".
Warning: Unless you have specified exclusion rules for multiple artists, the splitting can be greedy, meaning that artists that are supposed to be one artist can be splitted into two or more artists. An example of that is "Earth, Wind & Fire" which could be splitted into "Earth", "Wind" and "Fire" unless an exclusion is defined.
Manually editing multiple album artists
You can manually define multiple album artists by selecting an album, right-click on it and then select Edit > Change album artist... from the context menu.