Scraping iTunes Store Metadata, Part 2: Track Tags

Read "Scraping iTunes Store Metadata, Part 1: Artwork", here.

Assuming you read the first post of this series, you're well aware of my compulsive need to have my iTunes metadata identical to the iTunes Store metadata. Apple (naturally) didn't make their store particularly easy to scrape, but I found a way. Here we go.

  1. Navigate to the album you want to copy track tags from in the iTunes Store.

  2. Take note of the "path" to that particular album. It's located above the album artwork and looks something like Music > Rock > The Beatles

  3. Press Command-B (⌘-B) to switch to the browse view of the iTunes Store. Not many people know about it and it's not particularly useful…except for this. It looks rather similar to the column browser in your own 'Library' tab.

  4. Click through the columns using the 'path' you took note of earlier. ('Subgenre' is hardly ever used, just click 'All' in that column.)

  5. Once you've drilled down to the correct artist, select your album. The bottom half of the screen will populate with the track listing in the form of 90 second previews.

  6. Select those track previews and drag them into an empty playlist. I created one called "For Metadata."

Now you need to copy the track tags from those previews to your actual song files. To accomplish this, I turn to one of Doug's Scripts called Copy Tag Info Tracks to Tracks. It's incredibly easy to use. Install it. It's got a GUI and is pretty self explanatory, but I'll walk you through it, anyway.

  1. Select (highlight) the group of previews inside the "For Metadata" playlist (sorted in the correct album order…that matters)

  2. Launch the script. (When installed it will appear in a script menu in the iTunes menu bar.)

  3. Check all the boxes except for 'Artwork'.

  4. Click "Proceed" in the script.

  5. Select (highlight) the target group of tracks. Again, double check sort order.

  6. Click "Proceed" again, and you're done.

If everything worked properly, your iTunes files should have identical metadata to those previews from the store. Now:

  1. Return to the 'For Metadata' playlist.

  2. Select the previews you dragged there from the iTunes Store.

  3. Hold the 'Option' key and press 'Delete'. The option modifier deletes the selected files from the entire library, not just the current playlist. There's no reason to keep a bunch of 90 second previews in your library.

  4. An "Are you sure?" dialog will pop up. Go ahead and click 'Delete items'.

And that's all there is to it. Combined with my artwork scraping bookmarklet I detailed yesterday, you've got all the tools you need to edit your metadata to match the iTunes Store.

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.