It’s hard to believe that iTunes is now more than ten years old. Since 2001, it has seen Windows support added, the Genius feature, library sharing, playlists, books and, of course, the iTunes Store. If you’re anything like us, then during those ten years your music collection will have grown to an almost unmanageable size. It’s not uncommon to see iTunes music libraries several weeks in total play length, or duplicate music tracks that have become jumbled up in the playlist. As a result, an aging iTunes music library can soon become a mess, with missing cover art and albums split into several parts.
So how exactly does one go about tidying and re-organising an iTunes library that has bloated to a size of unimaginable scope? TuneUp is one solution. It’s a plug-in for iTunes that can fix mislabelled song information, add missing cover art, reorganise albums, display artist details, enable you to purchase concert tickets and share music with friends. Quite an impressive feature set, and one that’s surprisingly easy to use.
Three versions of the program are available: a free lite option will analyse and clean 100 songs and apply 100 cover artworks, an annual pass, priced $19.95, will sort and organise your music collection for a year, and a one-off payment of $29.95 gives you a Gold Pass, enabling unlimited song and cover art fixes. All three versions also include unlimited concert alerts and full access to the Tuniverse service.
Installing TuneUp is a breeze. After you’ve downloaded the program and dragged it to the Applications folder, TuneUp automatically opens iTunes and attaches itself to the right-hand side of the interface. From this new panel you can access five options for sorting and enhancing your iTunes library. The first, called Clean, analyses your music by listening to the audio fingerprint of each track and then comparing the results to the GraceNotes database of more than 90 million indexed songs. It works really well, renaming any errant tracks and reorganising albums in the blink of an eye. The second option, Cover Art, automatically scans your music collection for missing album art and offers a variety of results for you to choose from. It’s a convenient alternative to searching the web for album art when iTunes can’t find any from the iTunes Store. The third button is titled Tuniverse. This interesting feature scans any playing music tracks, then presents related music videos from YouTube, artist bios from Wikipedia, merchandise from eBay and song recommendations from Amazon. What’s surprising is how well this feature works. The constantly updating panel of information and media makes finding new content from your favourite band incredibly efficient, even more so than Ping. Tuniverse also includes a built-in Twitter feature that enables you to quickly tweet what track you’re listening too. Next to the Tuniverse button is a Concerts feature that quickly scans every album in your iTunes Library, then presents web-links to purchase tickets via Ticketmaster and Stubhub. We encountered an odd bug that resulted in no concert tickets appearing, but after a few days’ use the feature suddenly kicked in and began to show a selection of events that could be attended. Oddly enough, however, ticket prices were in Dollars and went up in price when we clicked through the link to the Ticketmaster website. The final button, Share, is aimed squarely at social networking fans. When clicked it displays the latest albums and tracks that you’ve played and enables you to quickly share these results with friends on Facebook. We can’t possibly imagine that our friends would be interested in seeing what music we listen to during the day, but if you’re supporting an up-and-coming band then this feature might potentially come to good use.
If we have a niggling issue with TuneUp, it’s that the program auto-runs every time iTunes is opened. Admittedly it’s possible to turn this feature off from the Preferences panel, but for a program that you’re unlikely to use on a regular basis, we’d prefer auto-run to be disabled by default. It can also take a large amount of time for TuneUp to scan massive music collections when looking for errant tracks and missing cover art.
TuneUp is a great addition to iTunes, with a handful of really handy features that enhance your music playing and sharing experience. It’s ability to tidy an iTunes Library is incredibly useful for anyone who has amassed music over a long period of time.