"Album Artist" vs "Artist" - please help an iTunes convert

Hi All,

Have recently moved form iTunes to Roon I am having issues with Album Artist vs Artist.

In iTunes it is very handy to label eg Bruce Hornsby as the Album Artist and then in Artist add Bruce Hornsby & The Range. All albums will then be bundled together under Bruce Hornsby.

What I have read here is that Roon treats these field the completely opposite way? Or is it that I have treated these fields the incorrect way all along?

Keeping the iTunes way n Roon messes up the tags I have noticed as if I add guest artists under Artist, for instance Bruce Hornsby; Shawn Colvin, then Shawn Colvin will show up under Primary Artist all of a sudden - something she’s not I guess. (I know I can tweak this in the edit settings per album basis, but would like to rely on my file tags as much as possible.)

And I would also like to check - how does today’s DAPs handle this field?

Thanks in advance all!


Hi @Henkemannen,

So we can better understand what you’re seeing here, let’s take a look at one specific example. For one of the Bruce Hornsby albums, please share the following:

  • A screenshot of Settings | Library | Import Settings
  • A screenshot of this album in Roon
  • A screenshot of the file tags for this album


Hi Dylan, thanks for your quick follow-up. I have attached below the screenshots. I have always used Album Artist as the “main” artist tag and depending on the performing artists changed this in the Artist tag. Perhaps I have been using this the wrong way, but it worked in iTunes.

Relating to this I found this thread: Decoding Mapping of File Based Tags to Roon

I would like to keep my tags so that they work with Roon AND any DAP as well, so Album Artist vs Artist is important.

I am faced with two situations based on this:

  1. There are two acts in one song, eg. Artist field = “Performer 1 & Performer 2”

  2. There is a featured artist in one song, Artist field = “Performer 1 featuring Performer 2” - this latter example would be best served by adopting the PERSONNEL tag described in the above thread? I have up until now added this in the Artist tag - “Performer 1; Performer 2”.

Gentle bump…

Hi @Henkemannen,

Apologies on the delay here! In the example you shared above:


You can see both Bruce Hornsby and Bruce Hornsby & The Range.

Bruce Hornsby is coming from your file tags. This is the Album Artist in Roon which is just a text value. What you see below, Bruce Hornsby & The Range, is a Primary Artist Link. This is not just text like the album artist — This is a link to the artist that is coming from the metadata provider.

if the Album Artist and Primary Artist Link match exactly, we only show one. If they don’t match, like you’re seeing here, we show both.

If you go to Edit Album you can see the Primary Artist Links there.

1 Like

Hi Dylan, absolutely no problem! Thanks for your reply.

Ok, so for me Bruce Hornsby is the artist under which I would file all the Range albums. Like in a record store. So shouldn’t Bruce Hornsby be below Bruce Hornsby & the Range above? I realise I can add Bruce Hornsby as a Primary Artist as well, but Roon’s suggestion for Album Artists here is Bruce Hornsby & the Range which makes me believe Roon uses Album Artist differently from iTunes (and perhaps other music software)?

On my DAP for instance the Artist (in this example Bruce Hornsby & the Range) shows up as as the artist for a particular album.

Many thanks!


Hi @Henkemannen,

Generally, the Album Artist field in Roon can be described as “what appears on the album cover”. On the album cover here I see Bruce Hornsby & The Range, so that may be the appropriate Album Artist to use here. Really, though, that’s mostly personal preference for how you’d like to use this.

I don’t know if this helps you but I normally put “Bruce Hornsby” in the artist field and “Bruce Hornsby & the Range” in the album artist field. Then I end up with a less cluttered screen like this:

The Bruce Hornsby link actually has all the artist bio whereas the Bruce Hornsby & the Range link has none. I often find this is the case. To get this effect you will also have to delete the “Bruce Hornsby & the Range” primary artist if roon has made one but there is also a Bruce Hornsby & the Range link in the text anyway. Also common I find. I just prefer a cleaner uncluttered screen but as Joel say a lot of this is personal taste.

Ok thanks Dylan!

Hi Tony, thanks for your suggestion!

I actually ended up deleting Bruce Hornsby as Primary Artist and only keep Bruce Hornsby & The Range. My tags will continue to keep Album Artist as Bruce Hornsby and Bruce Hornsby & The Range as Artist to make it easier for display on my DAP.

I realise now I will have to tweak Roon’s display in cases like this and not rely on the tags.

Thanks for taking your time!