iTunes Library Naming Standards
If you’re at all familiar with my blog, you’ll know that I’m pretty obsessive about my iTunes music library. I’m also a stickler for proper grammar and punctuation. It is also apparent that, across the net, there are people who are as obsessive as I am.
Because it is possible to export your iTunes library into an XML file, it also makes it possible to use your iTunes library information in a database. For example, there are sites like iTunes Registry, which allow you to upload your Library.xml file and see various pieces of information about your music, listening habits, favorite artists, etc.
It is for this reason that I propose a set of Standards for naming and organizing songs in iTunes. I am more than open to suggestions. So, if you’re interested in contributing, leave a comment with your feedback, opinions, or criticisms.
Now, I’m not really sure how to go about drafting a set of Standards, so I’ll just start with the basics and see how it goes from there.
Spelling & Punctuation
Concerning spelling, obviously correct spelling is an issue. It is also important to preserve the spelling that the artist intended to convey. Apart from the original artist’s website, I’ve found that the most accurate information can be found at Gracenote.com. So, if for some strange reason the artist doesn’t have a website, Gracenote is a good place to start.
From here I’ll get into specifics…
Capitalization – As far as capitalization, I prefer to capitalize every word in the title of a song.
Parenthesis () – Parenthesis should be used to indicate actual parts of the title of a song or album in which the content is actually parenthetical, part of the title. For example…
- Dude (Looks Like A Lady)
- Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)
- Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland?)
Wikipedia has this to say about Parenthesis:
Parentheses (singular, parenthesis)—sometimes called round brackets, curved brackets, oval brackets, or just brackets, or, colloquially, parens — contain material that could be omitted without destroying or altering the meaning of a sentence.
Parentheses may be used in formal writing to add supplementary information, such as “Sen. Edward Kennedy (D., Massachusetts) spoke at length.” They can also indicate shorthand for “either singular or plural” for nouns—e.g., “the claim(s)”.
This segues nicely into the next topic…
Brackets  – Brackets should be used to denote additional information about a song or album. Remix information, disc number, etc. Here are some examples…
- Album Title – “A-Sides [Best Of],” “Diplomatic Immunity [Disc 1],” Oh Yeah! [Ultimate Aerosmith Hits – Disc 2]”
- Remix Information – “Prep Gwarlek 3B [Dennis Desantis Remix]”
- Intro, Outro, Etc. – “The Big Picture [Intro],” “NY Freestyle [Instrumental]”
Essentially, the Brackets are intended to contain additional information about the song or album title.
Acronyms – No periods between letters in acronyms. “LAMC” instead of “L.A.M.C.”
Contractions – Songs with titles like “Do You Remember Rock ‘N Roll Radio?” The first letter in the contraction should be capitalized. There could be some debate as to whether it should be ‘N’, as opposed to ‘N. I suppose the proper form would be ‘N’, as the apostrophe is taking the place of the missing letters.
This should be distinguished from normal contractions in song titles like “What’d Ya Do?,” where “‘d” is part of the word “What,” and you need not capitalize the “d.”
As far as words like “Y’all,” should it be “Y’all” or “Y’All?” I prefer “Y’All.” I suppose it should be no different than “What’d.” But then again, “All” is a word all on it’s own. Input would be appreciated.
Question Marks (?) – Any song titles that take the form of a question should always end in the Question Mark (?). Take the previous example: “Do You Remember Rock ‘N Roll Radio?”
Hyphenated Words – Songs like “International Cover-Up.” Capitalize both (all) words in the hyphenated series.
Personally, I dislike putting featured or guest artists in song titles. As my library exists right now, I don’t have featured artists listed anywhere. I’ve been debating this issue for a while. Should I use the “Album Artist” field for the artist who released the album, and the “Artist” field to include any featured artists?
Mostly, this is a dilemma concerning time and effort. Do I really want to go through my entire music library (107 GB) and find every song (19,806 of them) with a featured or guest artist and modify the “Artist” field to reflect these changes??? I don’t know.
To take a solid position on this, I feel that featured artists do not belong in the song title.
iTunes gives you the option of having just the track number (Track #1), or having the track number out of the total number on the album (Track #1 of 15). Personally, I prefer not to use the 1 of 15 convention and simply stick with Track #1. I suppose this could be up for debate, but it looks cleaner with just the track number without the “of 15” part.
In some cases, tracks have more than one song on them.
For example, “Love Minus Zero / No Limit.” I think this format is fitting. Using the Slash “/” to designate more than one song in the track. There should also be a space between songs and the Slash. Some songs have a Slash in the punctuation already: “Erase/Replace,” or “AC/DC.”
This is a difficult topic. There is a lot of information in the title of a classical song. Opus number, movements, title, key that the song is in, etc. I’m not exactly sure how this should work. I would greatly appreciate suggestions on this matter.
This document will reflect the current state of the iTunes Naming Standards. Any debate or suggestions will take place in the “Comments” section, and changes will be made in this document to reflect any conclusions reached.
This document was last modified on 5/20/2009 ~ 7:00pm EST.