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This is an introduction to how Squeezebox Server (SBS) or Logitech Media Server (LMS) handles files it has already classified as Compilations, i.e. typically albums that do not have the same 'track artist' for all tracks, and how you can customize this behavior. Like the game Go (“A minute to learn, a lifetime to master"), SBS’s Compilation album behavior is both simple and complex. We’ll start with a basic introduction to compilations in SBS, and then discuss some of the advanced settings.


For info on HOW the server determines something is a Comp or not, please see Various Artists logic. One should read and understand that link before trying to grasp the concepts on this page.


Basic Introduction

SBS has built-in logic to determine whether or not an album is a compilation. Once identified as a Comp, the server will have special handling of those files.

When browsing the server in Artist context (eg. Browse Genre > or Browse Artist > ), SBS displays a special item at the top of the page called “Various Artists” which holds all compilation albums. Also, by default SBS shows in Artist context every artist in your music library. If you have many compilation albums the artist list may become quite long with many artists represented by only a small number of tracks. You can choose to omit from artist lists those artists that only appear on compilation albums by choosing “group compilations” in Settings > Music Library. Artists that appear on a compilation and on a regular album will still be shown in the artist list.

Whether you group compilations or not, when you browse to a particular artist ALL albums on which that artist appears, both regular and compilations, will be listed. The compilation albums listed here will only show the tracks on which the artists appears. There is presently NO WAY to change this behavior. In other words, “group compilations” does not prevent compilation albums from appearing on the list of albums for individual artists. It controls what artists appear on artist lists.

To illustrate, suppose your library contains two albums:
album YYY
track 1 ARTIST=AAA
track 2 ARTIST=BBB
Album ZZZ
all tracks with ARTIST=AAA

SBS will automatically identify album YYY as a “compilation”. If “group compilations” is NOT selected then the list of artists shown when browsing Genre or Artist will include AAA, BBB, and “Various Artists”:

Various Artists

If “group compilations” is selected then artist lists when browsing will include AAA and “Various artists”, omitting BBB since it only appears on a compilation.

Various Artists

No matter how “group compilation” is set, when you browse to artist AAA you will see all AAA’s full albums as well as any compilation albums on which AAA appears, in this case YYY and ZZZ. If you select album YYY you will only see the tracks on which AAA appears, in this case track one:

Various Artists
track 1 title

A typical setup

Most people will want these settings in SBS:

  • In settings>Music Library:
    • Choose “group compilations”
    • Choose “List by Band”
    • Choose “TPE2=ALBUMARTIST” (see discussion below of TPE2 treatment)

and optionally you can change this option:

"When compilation albums are grouped together, they appear under "Various Artists" by default. You can change that name below"

to be a value other than blank, aka "Various Artists" to workaround bug 9523.

Most people should tag and organize this way:

  • Put your files in one folder per album, or per CD:
    • tag each track with the individual track artists.

then either:

  • set COMPILATION=1 for comp albums (not truly necessary, since SBS will automatically identify the album as a compilation if it has different track artists and no ALBUMARTIST tags)


  • Set the same ALBUMARTIST tag per album, and then add COMPILATION=1 tags to over-ride the AA tag on things you want the server to know are a comp.

Note: you will always see all compilation albums on which an artist appears when you browse to that artist. This currently cannot be changed.

Additional Compilation-related settings

There are other settings under the Compilation heading on the SBS settings page. They change how info is displayed and how your tags are interpreted.

One setting is “List albums by all artists” vs. “List albums by Band”.

This describes how information about an album is displayed (but not how it is sorted). For example, if you Browse Albums, sorted by Album name, you only see the name of the album. If you sort the albums list by album artist, it will display the album artist if there is one, otherwise the artist(s) or band(s) on the album, depending on the selection here. As an example, a song by ARTIST=XXX;YYY, and BAND=ZZZ would appear as "album by XXX, YYY" if "List by all artists", or "album by ZZZ" if "List by Band".

The next setting controls how the scanner reads id3v2.3 and v2.4 TPE2 frames from id3 files, like mp3.

NOTE: It ONLY applies to id3 tags, so it has no effect on Vorbis/Flac type files.

It determines whether the server, when scanning files, treats the TPE2 frame in the tag as BAND or ALBUMARTIST. This is to allow compatibility with most other applications that use the TPE2 frame (out of spec) for ALBUMARTIST. This is important because, as outlined here, setting ALBUMARTIST for an album effectively prevents SBS from treating it as a compilation, and also determines where the album will sort.


The detailed behavior of compilation handling in SBS can be subtle and quirky behavior can result in certain situations. Search the forum to find the many threads discussing the issues.

You can also search the bug tracker for bugs related to compilation issues. Even closed bugs can have comments that illuminate how compilations work in SBS. The following is a partial listing of comp related bug reports: