Banshee Album Grid: Make Compilation Albums Display Only Once

I’m a pretty big fan of the Banshee Music Player. I don’t care which programming language it is written in. For my needs it’s the best Linux music player for a few reasons:

  1. Plays music
  2. Has a relatively intuitive and fast track search and sorting interface
  3. Automatically “watches” my music folder so that I can just copy music to my MUSIC folder and listen to it
  4. Great “Play Queue” functionality that allows me to quickly construct an ephemeral playlist
  5. Great podcast features: just paste the feed URL in and it’s easy to keep up with your favorite podcasts, whether you want to stream it or download it to listen to it later while offline (though a better indication of the “downloaded” status would be nice)
  6. Set it and forget it scrobbling (I LOVE statistics!)
  7. Album art for podcasts … so much more personality
  8. Provides a useful album art view, allowing me to pick my music via my visual association with the albums that dates back to my days of being an avid music consumer. A long, faceless list of tracks unfortunately leaves me listening to a fairly limited subset of my massive music collection. I NEED that visual connection. I know what I want to HEAR when I SEE it. 😉

With all of that said, Banshee isn’t perfect. I can’t quite tell whether Banshee or Rhythmbox does a better job of transferring playlists and music to iPods. I would expect that they use the same library to accomplish those tasks, but they both seem to fail in different ways, especially with playlists.

Another thing that has really irritated me is the way compilation or Various Artist albums would represent every individual track in the Album Grid rather than be collected as one item. It looks like this:

Banshee repeating the Dark Was The Night album art for each individual track

This is frustrating. Especially after you add several compilation albums to your collection. After a while you’re trying to find the individual albums amidst a haystack of repeating album art. I was even spending time looking around online for a better Linux music player. One that might be smarter about compilation albums. Fortunately I stumbled upon some settings that – now that I am aware of them – are quite obvious. I was thinking that it had something to do with the album grid sort settings and the settings didn’t seem to exist. But it turned out to be a property of the individual tracks that compose the compilation album. This is the kind of situation in which iTunes (for example) will just work, but it’s not too difficult to fix in Banshee. (It would help if stores like Amazon would include the proper metadata with MP3 downloads.)

How to make compilation albums appear only once in Banshee’s Album Grid

  1. Banshee’s Edit Track Information dialog

    Find some way to select all of the individual tracks of a given compilation album.

  2. Right-click on the selected tracks and select Edit Track Information.
    1. OR go to the main menu > Edit > Edit Track Information
    2. OR press “E”
  3. Check the box next to “Compilation Album Artist:”.
  4. Type in “Various Artists” (or whatever you like)
  5. Click the “Set all compilation album artists to these values” button to apply the value to all of the tracks that you have selected.
  6. Click the “Save” button.

Once you do that the Album Grid view should update immediately to display only a single representation of that particular album in the Album Grid:

Banshee correctly displaying the Dark Was The Night compilation album

Now that I got that problem solved and the solution shared with the interwebs, I think I’ve finally run out of procrastination-assisting distractions. 😀