Sorry for the slow response here guys – I know you’ve both been waiting on some clarity here, and I didn’t get to this last week.
There are a few issues intermingled issues here and what @anon94274355 is describing is different from what @Afullmark is seeing. I’m going to provide some detail about the current behavior, but I should mention that significant metadata work on our metadata infrastructure has started, and we’re not married to the current behavior.
Feedback is absolutely welcome, but keep in mind that whatever changes come in 1.3, they have to work for people who’ve painstakingly groomed every tag in their library, and for people who’ve been accumulating content forever and have never edited a tag. My plan is to end up with some clearly documented rules for default handling of file tags, which will go hand-in-hand with full editing.
Unidentified Compilations With No Track Artists
The first thing to understand about @anon94274355’s question is that when you see an artist name next to a track row, it’s because Roon has a credit for what we call the track’s “main performer” – this is generally going to be metadata that comes from one of our metadata providers, in the form of a credit for a role like “Main Performer” or “Featured Performer”.
Making sure we use the right data for track performer is one of the reasons you’re less likely to see nonsense artists in Roon such as Santana ft. Rob Thomas or Various Artists, or incorrect performer credits such as DJs (who may have selected the song, but didn’t perform it themselves) or, say, Beethoven (who may have composed the work, but didn’t perform on the recording you’re listening to).
Right now the general rule is that we use track artist tags when album artist is also present. We may consider changing this in the future and things will be a lot more flexible when full editing is released in 1.3. That said, across the millions and millions of files we’ve analyzed we’ve seen enough inconsistency here to be wary of making assumptions about these tags.
The tags in your files are always imported into the Roon database, and used to group files and identify albums, but for now the Album Artist field needs to be present in order for us to pass this data through and turn the artist tag into the “track main performer” credit you see in Roon.
@anon94274355 – if you want to upload an album or two in the state you’ve described to Dropbox and PM me a link, we can look at the file and see if there’s another pattern we can look for here as we update the file tag handling rules. It’s possible we can do better here.
Identified Compilations With No Track Artists
As for @Afullmark’s issue, this is a separate issue where our metadata for the compilation is itself missing track artists (or “track main performer”). In that case, an album can be identified with full metadata, but because there’s no info in our database, you won’t see a performer at the track level.
I’m a big collector of compilations myself and I can understand how frustrating this is, so after a lot of discussion we implemented a workaround for cases like this last year. Because we use artist tags when album artist tags are present (as described above), we will expose these tags as track main performer when this data isn’t already present. We’ve found this type of mixing tends to be pretty clean, because the album artist tag is a good indicator of quality tags
I should also mention that the album @Afullmark flagged actually had an additional issue. Because it wasn’t present in AllMusic, we were depending on secondary metadata providers. After looking into the report, I noticed we were poorly handling the track level artist credits from one of our secondary sources and failing to use it properly as the track’s main performer. So once that’s fixed, this album would get track performers automatically, regardless of the tags.
For now the work-around is to ensure you have Album Artist tags, but I want to be clear that although the rule appears to be working as designed, ensuring we handle track artists properly is a huge priority for us and something that we are planning to consider and possibly revisit with some of the metadata changes we are scoping right now. Again, feedback is welcome guys.