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[HowTo] Configure Plex to use embedded metadata (music)

beckfieldbeckfield Posts: 4,016Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass
edited March 2017 in Tips, Tricks & How-Tos

There are a couple of things to do to get Plex to use embedded tags from your media files before looking at online sources.

First, edit your Library and enabled the 'Use embedded tags' option. If using a Premium library, you may want to also set the Gracenote genre level to 'None,' as shown.

Second, arrange your metadata agents in the correct order. Make sure the 'Local media assets' agent is at the top of the list for Artists and Albums (I would do this for all subsections, Personal Media Albums, Plex Premium Music, and Last.fm):

In the Settings for the Last.FM agent, there is an option to use genre tags from Last.fm. I have never used this option, so I don't know when it comes into effect, or if it will work in a Premium library. If you want Plex to prioritize your embedded genre tags, I suggest turning this option off, whether it does anything or not:

With these settings, Plex will prioritize sources of metadata like this (EDIT: I was informed in January 2017 that the order of 1 and 2 will be reversed as noted. Not sure of the effective version for this change.):
1. Embedded tags and images Local artwork files (folder.jpg, etc.)
2. Local artwork files (folder.jpg, etc.) Embedded tags and images
3. Online sources like Gracenote or Last.FM

In your ID3 tags, it's important that the Album Artist (even if it's blank) and Album title are identical in each file. If Album Artist is blank, the album will still be listed under the Artist's name if the Artist tags are identical for all tracks. If they are not identical, the album will be listed under "Various Artists."

In the case of multi-CD sets, It is also important that the disc number is correct in each file.

This screenshot is from EasyTag, the ID3 editor I use:

Once you've done all that, and especially if you had to edit ID3 tags to get there, you'll probably need to do the 'Plex Dance' afterward to get Plex to read them in correctly. (The Plex Dance is a workaround for a problem that has existed in Plex seemingly forever. It should be embarrassing to Plex that they have such a major problem that has hung around for so long that the workaround for it actually acquired a name, but here we are.)

If you haven't maintained your embedded tags, this may take a lot of up-front work, if you have a large library. Once done, it is much easier to just make sure the tags are right when you add new albums.



  • jsaperiajsaperia Posts: 3Members

    I am new and have been test driving Plex for a couple of weeks. Before upgrading, I wanted to be sure it will do what I want and this is the first thread that seems close. I have three separate issues, so if I should move part around to another thread, I am happy to do so.

    1. I need to be able to create custom tags for my music as most of it is classical. For example, I want composer (that I saw in the image earlier in this thread), I also want orchestra, soloist(s), performance venue, and probably a couple others... this gives you the idea. I can not tell from the screenshot of Easy Tag, if there are features more management of the tags, like create, modify, delete, list, etc. Perhaps what I am looking for is an idiots guide to tag creation and management in Plex :-) The question is am I on the right track to get Plex to do what I want?
    2. I have a very small library so moving names/files around is still easy but the results, following the suggested folder structure still don't seem right to me and in different views I get different results. I have moved the server connection to so there is no double NAT and tried some other things, it is still not very good. I think in the end, especially for classical music. I will have to do my own work. The question here is, even for rock it does not seem right, even when following the file structure. The image below shows a Doors Album in the "Home" Page, but when looking at the Local Music - what I called this test it shows without artwork as you see in the second image. The file structure is correct (for this album) The question here is would any of this be improved with the subscription membership?
    3. I have not tired it yet, but with much of the material I download, there are PDFs about the music included as part of the purchase, I assume I can link to these as well -- I saw people could link to the artwork if desired?

    Thanks for your help.

  • jsaperiajsaperia Posts: 3Members

    A quick follow up to my last note. I just spent the last couple hours putting all the bits and pieces I needed on my may for easytag and have stopped at gtk+ there is a version problem/requirement I have not been able to get around. There just has to be a better way.

  • beckfieldbeckfield Posts: 4,016Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass
    edited August 2017

    I can't help much with troubleshooting EasyTag. You would be better off at their website. I would certainly encourage you to get all those tags you mentioned (composer, orchestra, etc.) in order, but don't expect Plex to use them. We have been asking for more complete support for those tags, especially for classical music, but Plex isn't there yet. I am hopeful.

    Plex does not have tag editing features, meaning that it won't edit the tags embedded in your media files. The tagging features that you see in Plex are stored in Plex's own database. You would be better off maintaining the tags with EasyTag or another editor.

    The image of the album with no artwork makes me think you are viewing your library in "By Folder" view. That view does not support album artwork. If this is the case, you probably see a toolbar something like this:

    If so, click on the "By Folder" item and select a different option. You should see artwork then. If you are configured to use embedded tags as described in the original post in this thread, and your ID3 tags are in good order, the folder structure is not as important (though still recommended). A Plex Pass subscription would not alter this behavior.

    To my knowledge, you will not be able to link to or view the .pdf files that come with downloaded music. The artwork that Plex can link to refers to the CD cover image, artist portrait, etc., generally in .jpg or .png format.

    These questions would have been better placed in a new thread. It's fine here, but it likely would not have been seen by anyone but me, unless others are following this thread. I started this thread to serve as a How-to article, and I frequently refer people to it when they need to know how to configure Plex to use embedded tags, rather than re-posting it all over the place.

  • jsaperiajsaperia Posts: 3Members

    Thanks very much for the reply and the information. I understand that Plex won't solve the tag problem. I have done more research and have read the ID3v2 and related specs. Most of what I need is there and I have found some tools at are a bit more plug an play in the experimenting I have done (Jaikoz and SongKong) that are good and follow the ID3 spec. The configuration information you posted will be helpful since the tools Jaikoz/SongKong will modify the tags in the DSF files and I would not want Plex to override them.

    All that said, if Plex won't support use of the Tags, the work to fix them up is of little use. I was going to explore Roon which might be better but the DAC i use does not support a Roon endpoint.


  • joachimtjoachimt Posts: 3Members

    I tried using the tutorial in the OP, but for me this didn't work.

    A few weeks ago I started using Plex for my music collection only. My collection was already properly tagged before I started a library. All files from the same artist had the same "Artist"-tag (although in some cases "Album artist" is empty and in other cases it's a copy of "Artist"). All files had correct album-tags. All files had genre-tags that I applied myself, because I use my own categorization.

    When I created the music-library, I just left everything at default, because I didn't really know how it all worked. I was pretty happy with the first result, but after using it for a couple of weeks, I noticed lots of annoying things with tags. On the filter, there were other genre-tags than the ones that I applied. Some artists had a different spelling than the name I gave them. Same with some albums, especially annoying with album which strangely enough contained weird characters, so the alphabetical order is messed up. For example. Amputechture by The Mars Volta is called #Amputechture# and the album O by Damien Rice is called **O. Those are not the tags I gave to those files.

    So for the last few days, I started messing around with the settings, reordering the agents etc...without any success. Today I followed the advice above and refreshed the library again. The only thing that changed is that the ghost-genre-tags have disappeared, because I unchecked the button to use genre-tags from LastFM. Apart from that, I still got the same. I have put Local Media Assets on top for all subsections of Artists and Albums. Unfortunately, Guns N' Roses is still called gun's n roses and Second Coming is still called +Second Coming, etc...

    Any advice how to solve this? Is there a way to force Plex to use ONLY embedded tags? The only thing I want Plex to pull from the net is the art.

    If I don't succeed, I could manually change the flaws, but that would mean going through almost 2000 albums manually. And can I be sure those flaws won't come back when I do another library-update later on?

    Using Version on a Synology NAS.

  • beckfieldbeckfield Posts: 4,016Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass
    edited July 2017

    When you say you "...followed the advice above and refreshed the library again," did you use the Refresh command in the UI? This is notoriously unreliable for updating tags once Plex has imported. Believe me, this is a long-running conversation.

    Near the end of the OP, I mentioned, and linked to, a process called the Plex Dance. If you haven't done that, it will probably fix the problems. Try it with a couple of problematic albums/artists first to see if it will fix your issues, before doing the whole library.

  • joachimtjoachimt Posts: 3Members

    I used the refresh command in the UI indeed. Is there a different place to do so?

    I'll try the Plex dance. Thanks for your help!

  • beckfieldbeckfield Posts: 4,016Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass
    edited February 2017

    No, there's no other place to do so. The Refresh command simply doesn't do what it's supposed to in some cases. Good luck!

  • joachimtjoachimt Posts: 3Members

    I just did the Plex dance for two albums, one with a wrong album title and one with a wrong artist name. Both came back fine! Ready to do the whole library now.

  • SpinelessSpineless Posts: 22Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass
    edited March 2017

    I just want to point out that the statement "In your ID3 tags, it's important that the Artist, Album Artist (even if it's blank), and Album title are identical in each file", is incorrect.

    There should not be any assumption or requirement that the track artist be the same for each file. I hope that statement was just a mistake. If so, please correct. Otherwise, please clarify.

  • beckfieldbeckfield Posts: 4,016Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass
    edited March 2017

    @Spineless said:
    I just want to point out that the statement "In your ID3 tags, it's important that the Artist, Album Artist (even if it's blank), and Album title are identical in each file", is incorrect.

    There should not be any assumption or requirement that the track artist be the same for each file. I hope that statement was just a mistake. If so, please correct. Otherwise, please clarify.

    Yes, you're right. Good catch. I'll correct it. Thanks.

  • RogerGrahamRogerGraham Posts: 5Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    "In your ID3 tags, it's important that the Album Artist (even if it's blank) and Album title are identical in each file."

    I assume you meant "Album Artist" and "Artist".

  • beckfieldbeckfield Posts: 4,016Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    No, the Artist field may be different, as in the case of various artist albums. If Album Artist isn't the same for every track in the album, or if Album Title isn't the same in every track, Plex will incorrectly break an album up into multiple albums.

  • jo666mansonjo666manson Posts: 3Members ✭✭

    is there a correct way to nest multiple disc albums so that plex will load them as 1 album, sub separated by disc under that single album view?
    so far I am using this format and it only seems to be selective on which ones it does correctly

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