Monday, November 02, 2009

iTune to You

So as I mentioned, I bought a new computer recently. Although I still haven't begun to shed my CD-buying ways (I must be closer to that "50-and-over demographic they're always talking about than I care to admit because just this week I got the remastered and expanded "So Tough" and "Sound of Water" two-disc collections by Saint Etienne, the expanded "Interiors" by Rosanne Cash and the Cherry Pop reissue of Kim Wilde's "Select" -- totally to-die-for with song-by-song explanations and rare photos!), one of the reasons was to begin to move my music collection into the 21st century. I'm writing this post because I'm looking for advice and input from other, more-hip music collectors out there.

I know a lot of this depends on what "type" of music fan you are -- do you like mix tapes, albums, shuffle-style -- but I am curious how other people use their iTunes Library. First off I must say this: if I had any grudge against digitizing my music it's been erased now, but probably not for the reasons you think. People say they listen to more music this way, but since I have no commute, I rarely use my iPod for more than a few minutes at a time, which is why coming home from work and popping three CDs into my little Sony stereo was never a problem, and why I was always the one who was saying "Yesterday!" when asked the proverbial question, "When was the last time you actually listened to a CD?" Rather than getting me to listen to more music, all iTunes has done for this anal music-freak is give me yet another outlet for obsessing and archiving and arranging and making lists (a childhood obsession of mine). God, it's so fun!. So instead of alphabetizing and placing my LPs and then CDs in chronological order, now I have been spending literally HOURS and HOURS importing my CDs and then making sure I have all of the corresponding artwork -- can't just have the album cover, gotta have the singles, too! -- and correct titles, etc. (And you know about THIS, right? So now all those rarities compilations I made can be nicely organized, which actually is a good thing seeing as homemade CDs never played properly in the first place. I LOVE how you can rearrange the songs -- like on my "True Blue" special edition I was able to put "Ain't No Big Deal" and the demos of "Dance to Me" and "Each Time You Break My Heart" in the order of my choice at the end of the album.)

One small issue, though. Has anyone else had the problem where you load all the artwork into your library, but when you drag the songs onto your iPod it disappears and you have to load it there, too? Naturally, this doesn't happen with songs purchased from iTunes. (Actually, as I write this I remembered I'm using Windows Media Player to rip my discs instead of iTunes because I already have so much in there and HATE having two separate files for any artist. Might this be Apple's way of punishing me?)

So how do you guys do it? Although I'm decidedly an "album person," I had been just putting a couple songs from each CD on my iPod, figuring I could always play the full disc when I'm home. But since I got the bigger hard drive, I'm finding myself putting dozens and dozens of albums on there. (The Bananarama/Blondie/Pretenders/Beach Boys extravaganza alone took three days.) To be honest, I'm not even sure why I'm doing it other than the fact that it's fun and once I start something I find it extremely difficult to stop.


alberto mario said...

Hiya Kenneth, you found the anal-music-organization-obsession-freakin' awesome nirvana for guys like you (and me, I admit).

For your question regarding the artwork transfer to the ipod, just find the cover in the internet (there are thousands of sites devoted for album artworks), download the cover to your desktop, copy the file and paste it in iTunes in their respective item. That way you make sure the artwork will transfer to the iPod.

In iTunes, go to the song and make Ctrl+i, the Tag dialog box will pop, go to the Artworks tab and paste the pic there. Easy.

If you have problems just ping me and request my MSN or Skype and I will help you. See ya and good luck

Chad said...

Kenneth... as you know, I'm an album person too! I will buy entire albums knowing that I'm not going to listen to EVERY song, but I'm a completist. I still listen to my music in albums. I bring my iPod to work, plug it into my computer and play my music through my computer and headphones all day... mostly listening in albums. Occassionally, I'll play a playlist (or mix) and could shuffle that... sometimes I search for an arist and then just shuffle that artist... So many options! But, I, like you, enjoy an album... :)

dishy said...

Hey Kenneth, it's me, dishy. Question - is your new computer a Mac? If so there is a very easy "command + V" way to copy and past artowrk into your iTunes - not sure if that works with a PC. Email me if you have any questions.

HiC said...

Hey Kenneth...

You have to copy the artwork into the music files in iTunes *after* having imported it from the CD. If you add it to the songs on the CD and then import, the artwork won't import over (because it isn't actually saved into the music file on the CD, it can only do that once there is an imported file on the computer for it save into). Then the artwork will follow the music file onto your iPod.

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

Thanks for the feedback, guys. I'm still a little confused. I'm using Windows Media Player where I rip the CD. I then add the songs to the library where I then add the artwork. There, I have no problems. But then two seconds later when I drag the songs onto my iPod, the art disappears and I have to do the whole thing over again. Does that make sense?

Wade said...

Hi Kenneth . . . I have two methods for you concerning getting the cover art to your iPod. I would try this on one album first to see if it clears up the problem.

Make sure you are on a view that shows all of the track listings and not just the album cover. If you don't have the column browser turned on, it might be easier to turn that on. Go to View, Select Show Column Browser.

Select/highlight all of the tracks for that specific album, right click and select Clear Downloaded Album Artwork to clear what is currently assigned to the tracks. With all tracks still selected, right click again and this time select Get Album Artwork.

You will need to delete that album off of your iPod and then drag the songs back to your iPod. Eject the iPod and see if you have cover art.

If that method works, you could probably select all of the tracks in your library at one time, right click on the tracks and select Get Album Artwork.

The Clear Downloaded Album Art step may not be necessary and you will not want to do that if it is artwork you had to go out and manually find on the internet.

The second method is one you will need to use for the cover art that iTunes can't find. Again the key is to make sure you select all of the tracks from that album and not just the main album cover.

Copy the image from Amazon or where ever you are getting it from, in iTunes select all of the tracks for that album, right click on the track titles and select Get Info, On the Info Tab there is a section for Artwork, Right click inside the box and select Paste. This will take a few moments to update the ID3 Tags but will make sure the cover art is associated with each track.

The second method can be also be used for the album art that iTunes downloads in case method 1 does not work but it is more more time consuming as you are updating the ID3 tags for every track.

I tested both of these methods out and they both worked, so if they do not work for you a iPod Restore might be the next step to make sure there is not a bug on the iPod software. Let me know if any of this does not make sense or you need some clarification. Also, try to ignore the grammar errors that you may find : )

John Beene said...


It sounds like you and I are just alike when it comes to music library management (both physical and electronic).

I've got on the order of 500 CDs. But my electronic collection is even larger, going on 10,500 songs. If you don't keep that strictly organized you'll misplace things on your computer and then you forget you have them and then they are essentially lost.

I'm definitely an album person. And if I don't have correct, high quality album art for every album it drives me crazy. After having spent countless hours finding album art what I have found is that the album art that users have uploaded to Amazon is a really great resource. Most people have uploaded the art specifically to meet this need. If you can't find it there then Google image search is very useful but the images are sometimes of lesser quality. In either case look for art that is 500x500 pixels. This is a great resolution for viewing on the computer and on the iPod (and on the AppleTV).

Having long ago switched from WMP to iTunes (and having recently switched from a PC to a Mac) I can tell you that WMP and iTunes manage album art in very different ways. WMP downloads art to the albums folder and then links the track and the art. As far as I know WMP does not make album art a part of the actual music file. Because of this when you add tracks to your iPod the art may not come over with them.

I have transferred my collection from PC to Mac, and have rebuilt my iTunes library twice and I can say Wade's explanation of solutions for your problem is great! The only thing I would add to what he said would be that iTunes manages album art in two ways. One way is very similar to WMP. When you use the 'Get Album Art' function the art and the music track are merely linked and, in my experience those links can sometimes get broken.

In my experience the best way to add album art to tracks is to use the other method Wade mentioned and that is to copy and paste the art into the track information. In this way the art becomes a part of the files themselves. This is more time consuming but it is also essentially trouble free. To me it's worth the extra time and trouble and I think that you'll find it to be worth the effort as well.

curious said...

I really hope someone can help me.... I've been looking everywhere for an answer to this question. I had to reformat my computer (again), and of course 'lost' my iTunes library. I'm now in the time consuming process of importing all my CDs. The biggest problem is that I have to type in the artist and song name for many of my 'homemade' CDs, but not all. There must be some way to burn CDs so that they're always recognized by iTunes. This is taking WAY too long, and since I insist on doing it perfectly, it really takes weeks of whatever free time I can find.