Scraping iTunes Store Metadata, Part 1: Artwork

This week on Back To Work, Merlin discussed a few of the ways he likes to leverage iTunes Match, Apple's music library cloud service.

Like him, I use iTunes Match to upgrade my old, lower bit-rate files to the same 256kbps AACs that are available from iTunes Store. But because I'm so incredibly obsessive when it comes to my music library, I don't stop there. Since the audio files are identical to what's in the store, I want metadata and artwork that are ALSO identical to what's available in the store.

In a series of posts I'll detail exactly how I go about this, but first things first:

  1. I'm a Mac guy. These are Mac workflows. I don't know (or care, for that matter) how much of this can be done on a PC. Not my wheelhouse...

  2. This isn't an iTunes Match tutorial. I'm assuming you already know how to upgrade your songs. If you don't, GIYF.

  3. There are easier ways to "clean up" your iTunes metadata. This process is for those who want track tags and album art identical to what's available in the store.

Okay, let's get some artwork!

Now, iTunes has had a practically useless artwork-fetcher built in to its contextual menus for some time now. Stay away from it. It usually fails, and when it does manage to find something it doesn't embed anything in the music files themselves. Instead, it stores the artwork in some proprietary iTunes database. Yep, useless.

So I found a better way: I wrote a bookmarklet.

  • Drag the blue link below into the Bookmarks Bar in Chrome or Safari (the browsers I've tested)

iTUNES ART GRABBER

  • Next to the price/buy button of every album in the iTunes Store is a small arrow which opens a dropdown menu. Select "Copy Link".

  • Paste that link into your browser and load the page.

  • Click the "iTUNES ART GRABBER" bookmarklet, and boom. Your browser will load a 600x600 pixel version of the album artwork, which you can then right-click and save or drag directly into the iTunes "Get info" window.

And that's how you scrape iTunes Store artwork. Next time, I'll detail how to get the matching track tags, like name, artist, album, genre, etc.

Read "Scraping iTunes Store Metadata, Part 2: Track Tags, here.