Apple Music: Album is split into singles – explanation and solution to the problem

Today I have another niche problem for you that can affect the Apple Music app and Apple iTunes on the Mac, iPhone, Windows PC and elsewhere. Because if you purchase music albums via the Apple Music subscription and store them in your music library, it may be that at some point they will simply be divided into individual singles. So if you have discovered in your media library that an Apple Music album has been broken down into individual smaller albums/song collections, then here you will find the explanation for the phenomenon and a few more or less useful solutions.

Problem in the Apple Music app: An album from the Apple Music subscription was split into individual singles. Here you can find the reasons and a few possible solutions.
Problem in the Apple Music app: An album from the Apple Music subscription was split into individual singles. Here you can find the reasons and a few possible solutions.

Description of the problem: “Reply 1994” soundtrack was broken up into singles

I've had the soundtrack of the series "Reply 2013" (응답하라 1994), produced in South Korea in 1994, in my Apple Music library for a long time. If you like K-dramas and aren't afraid to read subtitles, you should take a look at it and the other "Reply" series (1988 and 1997). But now to the music: the soundtrack with the songs from the series was once available as a complete album, so you didn't have to collect the individual tracks and make a playlist out of them. Recently I wanted to listen again, but discovered that the album was now divided into individual singles.

The track collections and singles marked in red were once part of a single album. Instead of this single album, eight different publications are now displayed.
The track collections and singles marked in red were once part of a single album. Instead of this single album, eight different publications are now displayed.

The reasons: album and artist information as well as translations

The reasons for dividing music albums into individual releases can be for different reasons. It could be due to the different meta information of the songs. If different album names and artists are noted in each, then a division may occur. Especially if other titles with this information are recognized and a single can be combined with the different song versions.

However, as I read when researching the topic, the problem can also lie in the localization of individual information. Especially when music information is transferred from one language to another or from one script to another, certain differences and thus problems with assignment can arise. Everything came together on the “Reply 1994” album with information written partly in Korean and partly in Latin.

Workaround: Change information manually and combine albums

On the Apple Mac you can right-click on an album or single in the Music app (as well as in iTunes in older macOS versions or under Windows on the PC) to open the corresponding context menu. There you will find the “Information” item. If you click on this, you will be taken to an overview of the album or title information, which you can adjust manually in some areas.

Some guides now recommend standardizing either the album name or the information in the “Artist” and “Album Artist” fields in order to combine the individual single overviews into an album. But this only worked for me if I provided all three fields with the same information. So the same name in the “Artist” field, the same name in the “Album Artist” field and a consistent name in the “Album” field. For the sake of simplicity, I just entered “Reply 1994” everywhere.

If several singles with the same, manually entered information are now recognized, they will be combined again into an album. Here you can now specify the track number in the information for the individual tracks in order to recreate the original order of the songs. However, the whole thing comes with several disadvantages. On the one hand, it is quite a task that you have to spend time on. On the other hand, you change information that distorts the music collection. So if you are looking for correct meta information, this is not the right approach.

The better solution: create a playlist

If you don't want to mess around with the detailed information of singles, albums and songs, then there is probably a better solution to the problem of albums suddenly being dissolved. This consists of creating a playlist. If you don't remember the track order of the album, you can search for it on the Internet. Using the list, you can now search for the individual songs on Apple Music or iTunes and combine them into a list. You then save all of this with the appropriate name and, if necessary, add the album cover as an image - you avoid further problems.

Quick Fix: Search for other people's playlists

Some playlists are made publicly available by the people who create them. And Apple Music also sometimes has individual playlists on specific topics, artists and the like. So if you want to save yourself the hassle of merging individual tracks, you can simply search for the album name or related terms, scroll to “Playlists” in the search results, and use other people’s playlists.

What is your approach to split Apple Music albums?

Have you ever noticed that a music album was broken down into individual tracks or singles in iTunes, the Apple Music app or elsewhere? What was your approach to putting them back together? Feel free to leave your experiences with this problem as a comment :)

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