How to Organise your iTunes Library Effectively

In this tutorial you will learn the basics of how to generally manage and organize your iTunes library with little effort, through a Mac user standpoint.

Before we begin, there is a tutorial by Mactut that takes us through the basic clean up of iTunes using the built-in features. This includes deleting duplicates and renaming song information (or metadata) in bulk.

Metadata is essentially a portion of information that is attached to a file (beyond the file name) that determines how that file is treated by its file system.

iTunes in Mac

I decided it was time to properly label and sort the songs in my iTunes. In my opinion, there are two advantages of using iTunes in Mac (unsure about Windows) regarding the music files:

1. Location of files

iTunes copies all the songs from their original location and places it in the directory:

User (folder) > Music (folder) > iTunes (folder) > iTunes media (folder) > Music (folder) > Album Artist (folder) > Album Name (folder) > Track Name (file).

When any of the metadata (album artist, album name or track names) is edited in iTunes, the files or folder (bolded above) will be organised accordingly to how it is displayed on iTunes. After adding the songs into iTunes, delete the original files because it is no longer used to save space in the hard disk as well.

2. Deletion of files

If you dislike any songs and want to remove it permanently, just hit DELETE on your keyboard and the file will be removed from your iTunes and your hard disk. However, you can still retrieve it from the trash. Do note that  deleting files from any playlist does not remove the file from your iTunes.

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The Goal

I aim to have all these metadata and the song lyrics properly labelled.

1. Track name

To identify the song you are listening to.. duh! 😀

2. Artist and Album Artist.

While these two tags seem similar, its contrast encourages easier categorisation. ‘Artists’ are the singer or band that sings  of that particular track while ‘Album Artist’ is especially useful in compilation albums, i.e. albums with more than one artist or collaboration with several different artists.

It is important to keep the ‘album artist’ tag identical for each album, as a slight difference (even an additional space bar) will separate the tracks into two separate folders.

3. Album Name

It is encouraged to match the album name to that of the iTunes store. This will speed up the process of identifying the album artwork.

4. Year

To create a smart playlist for Oldies and 90’s music… maybe?

5. Lyrics

..so you can sing along!  There are a lot of application to display song lyrics on the laptop, or it will appear automatically in supported devidces such as iPhone and iPad.

I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.

– Bill Gates

The Tools

While there are a million of softwares that are available online, these are the few that I came across and find useful.  just make sure that the software is compatible with your computer specifications.

Part 1: Identifying Metadata (#1 and #2)

1. Soundhound (freeware)

Soundhound

This application records song playing around you and identifies few key information; name of song, artist, and year released. While it is not 100% efficient, it is able to identify not only English but other languages like Chinese, Cantonese, Japanese and Korean as well as instrumentals! As far as I know, it is available for iPhone, iPad and Andriod users. and is currently not available as laptop application.

You have to manually change the metadata of the songs in your iTunes per information in Soundhound. Tedious…… yes, oh yes.

Link:  Soundhound in iTunes

2.  Tune Up (Commercial Software with Trial Version)

Tune Up

This is an easier solution to fixing your entire library. Read here for the features. However, every easy solution comes with a catch; For $49.95, you can have a lifetime subscription to Tune Up. Unsure if you’re getting your money worth? Download a free trial for 50 songs.

I download and have a go on the application; it automatically replaces mislabeled song information to correct ones, with an additional song information: genre. Did you know emo is an actual genre?

Link: Tune Up

P.S. If you are as kiamsiap as me, the first choice is the better, although more tedious.

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Part 2: Identifying Lyrics (#3 and #4)

 3. Get Lyrical (freeware; for Mac only)

GetLyrical

This tool automatically add lyrics into iTunes. Pretty useful if you want to sing along! However it adds the track name and artist on the top, and the website link at the bottom.

Link: Get Lyrical 

Ryan created an Apple a to remove these details so that only the lyrics will be displayed on screen. After download,  extract the .scpt file. Open a new Finder window and navigate to the following directory:

User > Library > iTunes > Scripts

If the folder named “Scripts” does not exist, create one. Drag and drop the script (.scpt) into the Scripts folder. This should show up in your iTunes.

Link: Script to remove excess strings from lyrics

4. Sing that iTune!

What’s the point of going through the hassle if you’re not going to use the lyrics, right? Add this widget to your Dashboard and have the lyrics at your fingertips!

There are a wide variety of widget online but i like this interface the best, so far.

Link: Sing that iTune widget

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Still here? Good. Let’s get started.

The Process

1. Display song information on iTunes

Before you begin, display the relevant song details you need to label on iTunes. On the header, click:

View > View Options

and check the radio boxes for album, album artist, name and year. You can check more if you want to. Then sort it according to which column you want, but I recommend to sort the artist (or album) by alphabetical order.

View Options

View Options

2.  Decide what you want to sort

The hardest part is to know where to begin. Do you want to sort the entire library or a certain playlist? Decide what is important to you.If you are alarmed by the large amount of data to sort, break it down into parts. Set a short term goal, e.g. 30 artist per sitting.

3. Relabel the song information.

Go either the easy and expensive way (Tune Up) or the cheap and tedious way (Soundhound).

For Soundhound, you have to manually relabel the information for each songs. Use the shortcut Command-I or on the header, click

File > Get Info

Edit the metadata based on what you find.

How Soundhound works

How Soundhound works

If the song cannot be detected by this application, google part of the lyrics to determine the artist and track name. I use azlyrics.com to identify the album  and year of each track. Album artist is particularly useful as explained here. Make sure you complete the artist and album artists to ensure consistency throughout the library / playlist. It will be useful if there are album compilations (several artists in one album).

4. Get album artwork.

After all the song information are completed, highlight the tracks that have been edited, get the album artwork through:

File > Library > Get Album Artwork

or the shortcut, control and right click, scroll to the “Get Album Artwork” label.

If the albums and artists are labelled correctly, most album should be automatically downloaded to your iTunes. Manually add those that are not downloaded (since you have the album name and artist, right?)

Obtain Album Artwork for songs

Obtain Album Artwork for songs

5. Obtain Lyrics.

Start the get lyrical application. Go to iTunes and highlight all the songs to add the lyrics. Click the “tag selection” and allow overwriting of existing lyrics. Sit back, and let it do the magic.

After that, click on the Script button between the Window and Help on the taskbar and choose the “Fix Lyrics Working With Selection” button. This will remove these details so that only the lyrics will be displayed on screen.

For an informative guide of how to use Get Lyrical and script, check out the youtube link (link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1zUUhLJtDQ)

Get Lyrical at work

Get Lyrical at work

6. Display Lyrics.

‘Sing that iTunes’ is one of the many widgets that display the lyrics on the dashboard.

Sing that iTunes

Sing that iTunes

7. Enjoy your work.

Do what you love, you’ll be better at it. It sounds pretty simple, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t get this right away.

– LL Cool J

No elaboration required.

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Thanks for reading!

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Disclaimer: This tutorial was not written with any intention to subvert copyright laws. Although these steps worked for me, I make no representation to any misleading information or errors that may arise in your trial. Please ensure that you have a backup of the library and media folders before running the application.

For personal use only.

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