A. Each file encoded in the popular MP3 audio format includes a special section, or tag, at the end of the recorded audio that includes metadata information about the audio, including artist name, song name, album name, and year. Dubbed ID3, this tag has grown over the years to encompass a wider range of metadata (such as song lyrics), and managing ID3 tag information has become a cottage industry of sorts. Here's why: MP3 audio players, both PC-based and portable hardware types, rely on ID3 tags to correctly display artist and song-title information during playback. If the ID3 tags are incorrect, your player will display garbage.
Unfortunately, many MP3 ripping programs don't accurately populate ID3 tag files. A year ago, I used RealJukebox to rip my CD collection, but this otherwise wonderful tool has no way to fill in the "year" tag. So all my MP3s reported that the music was from the year 2000, making it impossible to create a 1980s playlist or whatever (we can debate the merits of that endeavor separately, I suppose). The trick, then, is to use an application that lets you edit ID3 tag information directly in a batch format so that you can change all the songs from a CD album at one time. Media Player for Windows XP (MPXP) does so through the shell, but the process is a bit ponderous. So I turned to a wonderful utility called MP3 Tag Studio. It's not free, but at $19 it's a good deal, especially if you've already ripped your entire collection and just want to clean up the tags. You can download MP3 Tag Studio from the Web. For a Mac-based solution, check out the Mac Digital Audio Web site.