One suggestion for Organising a Classical Music Collection in Roon

I’ve now been at this editing chore of the music collection for over 10 years, first with Meridian, now with Roon so thought to pass on the limited wisdom accrued in that time after having made some mistakes which have taken hours of work to rectify.

There are many ways of cataloguing the music to make access using Roon easier so what I’ve done could be improved upon but I’m putting it forward to stimulate ideas and possibly help. There is limited consistency with how classical album data is presented so that makes organising and editing it a veritable PIA. But that does give the basic clue, whatever you decide upon, BE CONSISTENT. So here is the way I’ve attempted to organise –

  1. COMPOSERS. If an album is the music of one composer only, I put the surname (only) first so all such albums look like e.g. Beethoven: detail of the works; Handel: detail of the works
    Many albums feature more than one composer so I use the header Various: Copy the Album Title and follow with a list of the composers involved (surnames only).
    With some composers like Bach, there are more than one with thar surname but if JS is the composer, I do not add anything but do for CPE & others. Similarly with Williams, I use V.Williams for Vaughan – use whatever you prefer but be consistent.

The advantage of this is when the albums in Roon are displayed under ”Album Title” it puts all composer albums together , making them easier to find. That does leave the “Various” albums needing discovery using the search function, something that is improving as time goes on with updates.

  1. ARTISTS, I use full names for these but observe the following self imposed “rules”
    (i) The conductor always appears before the Orchestra (I had not been careful enough about this so many albums were “buried” and not seen - correcting it has taken hours).
    (ii) If there is an additional artist as in a concerto, he/she goes first, then the conductor and finally the orchestra
    (iii) Operas and choral works pose a challenge as often there is more than one leading artist so it is most likely best to put the conductor first. Against that you might prefer to list a few like Joan Sutherland, Maria Callas first so you can quickly locate them but that is not really necessary as often these artists are associated with the one conductor.

The obvious advantage of this is that all albums of a particular artist are displayed together in Roon under “Artist” display.

  1. TAGS If you are dissatisfied with the universal tags categorisation, Roon offers the opportunity for you to create your own simpler system. The one I originally created is not the best but I’ve been stuck with it and if I was starting again I would allocate one or more of each of the following tags to each album:
    Baroque & Early
    Choral – chorus
    Choral – small group
    Choral – song
    Folk & Ethnic
    Instrumental – brass
    Instrumental – cello
    Instrumental – guitar, lute etc
    Instrumental – harp
    Instrumental – harpsichord
    Instrumental – organ
    Instrumental – piano
    incremental – Violin & viola
    Instrumental – woodwind
    Instrumental – Z Other
    Oddball & Avante Garde
    Opera – arias etc
    Opera – complete

  2. ADDING MORE INFORMATION Roon has developed a lot in recent years so most albums link to more info but there is the chance to add more if desired, particularly to those unidentified. I concoct items (reviews, more pictures etc) using copy and paste in WORD, convert to PDF then add the item into the Windows Explorer folder. It then appears in Roon to be opened up from there.

  3. Alternate cover graphic display. I design things using Publisher, convert to a jpg format, so it can then be inserted into the album when editing. At one stage I altered album display in sets so each one had a unique number or something else obvious in the graphics but am not doing this as much now because the Roon structure for the header allows more to be displayed there to identify particular albums in a set. But the option is there if you have the time and inspiration.

Bottom line in all this is that editing is a time consuming chore but doing it carefully and with consistency will ultimately pay dividends by making accessibility to music in your library easier.


I use #1 and a variant of #2 - I always put the orchestra FIRST, followed by the conductor. Just my preference.


@JOHN_COULSON thanks. Shared elsewhere (with a link back to this post) so other classical listeners can benefit from your comprehensive guide.


I follow similar rules and always amend the metadata to conform to these rules whether on my own digital downloads (or less strictly) for any streaming content that I save (of course this is one thing that Roon facilitates).

Composer first and I will also list second composer and third composer if significant with the names of the works

If I have multiple versions (eg Beethoven symphonies) I will append conductor’s name and year (if necessary) in the title, or sometimes major artist such as singer or soloist and year or version (if necessary)

Artist order: Soloists/Orchestra/Conductor

Album Artist: Usually conductor except for concertos, recitals etc

Recitals - if mostly of one composer, usually go with the composer, with artist name appended otherwise artist’s surname with album title.

It is annoying that even major classical record labels are still totally inconsistent about their metadata. Even major labels will still omit the composer’s name in the digital metadata.

I would have thought by now something similar to these schemes could have been sorted out by the major classical record labels.

1 Like

I do all of John’s rules except Genre , but i use a a std 01 - Orchestral, 02 - Concertos etc then I add a Sub Genre say 05 - Keyboard - Piano Sonata , this is a throwback to my JRiver library . I t does nothing in Roon as I accept Roon Genres as is

Its a bit “Gramophonish” order

Navigation in Roon is probably more important , I tend to go Artist> Discography>album these days

1 Like

I, too, go back all the way to Meridian Sooloos and now have about 700,000 tracks in my library and one of the things I love about Roon is that its data base and search are so good that I have no need to do all this work!

Neil, I have a couple of problems which I would appreciate attention to

Providing that Roon has successfully identified an album or boxset, then I simply use Roon’s Focus. I don’t bother messing about with metadata any further.

It’s true that I usually need to help Roon identify ripped boxsets, but that’s usually the extent of it…

1 Like

as is apparent from my moniker, I work for a company that has been involved with music metadata for nearly 30 years. around 2004, the music critic and composer Greg Sandow wrote an article for the WSJ bemoaning the state of classical music metadata, and the effect this would have on the visibility of classical music in the digital domain.

Largely in response, Gracenote launched an internal project we called the Classical Music Initiative (CMI), which in 2005 resulted in a set of metadata standards called the Three Line Solution (TLS):

The centerpiece of the Classical Standard is the Three-Line Solution (TLS). The single most vexing problem in providing classical music data has been the equivalent of making a square set of data components fit into an existing triangular set of data fields (the pop paradigm mentioned above). To provide an informed listening experience for classical fans, a media player must list four basic data components: Composer, Recording Artist, Album Title and Track Title. At the moment, the vast majority of media players provide only three fields. The problem is complicated by the need to devise a system in which existing data is not corrupted and one that will be elastic enough in its design to accommodate future innovations in the form of tools, forms, programs and end products. TLS addresses all these and resolves them.

The concept of putting the composers name in the Album Name and Track Name fields, delineated by a colon, was part of the TLS standard. Gracenote provided these standards to the labels (and in many cases worked directly with the labels to define the standards), who in turn used them when they submitted recordings to digital services.

Roon does not use Gracenote metadata, but in time, this concept found its way into other databases via this submit process, so when you see an album in Roon such as Beethoven: Symphony #3 in E Flat, Op. 55, “Eroica”, that format originated with the Gracenote CMI.

But the CMI went much deeper:

and deeper still. There is a 20 page Classical Standards white paper that I won’t post here, from which the above quote is drawn, but would be happy to share via DM (it’s been made public elsewhere).

So if deep, rich, consistently formatted classical metadata standards have been available for nearly 20 years, why is most classical metadata still so poor? Because the labels, by and large, have not bothered to implement the standards many of them helped develop. A “media player,” such as Roon or Spotify, or Apple Music, can correct for some of this after the fact, but there is still the problem of correctly identifying a recording. Roon’s ability to identify classical recordings is…imprecise.

So we all develop hacks to navigate our own collections. @JOHN_COULSON’s is a good one, and I’ve read many others here. The Box Set problem is real, and something I know Roon has tried to address. Gracenote does not have a good solution for this either. But it’s not the only classical metadata problem that needs addressing.

…and don’t get me started on classical music and Roon Radio, which I’ve referred to elsewhere as the Mahler 3rd Problem.