Music Tagging & iTunes

I’ve had MP3 players for the past five years. And in that time, there have been many different ways that music players have handled album artwork. Real and MusicMatch have used MP3 ID3 tags for art storage. That’s worked fine. And iTunes recognizes and represents these tags quite well – at least, v4 of iTunes handles them well.

But I bought a new album last night. And I bought it at the record store. Yes, I went to a physical store. How 20th century of me! So this is the first physical media CD I’ve grabbed since getting the iPod Shuffle. And I decided to use iTunes for the complete ripping and storing experience. And I am thoroughly underwhelmed by the iTunes ripping experience. Quelle domage!

First, iTunes decides that I must want AAC encoding. Why would I want that? It’s music that I’ve purchased. That means that I have an implicit right to use conveyed through the purchase of the album. But iTunes must think I don’t use anything but Apple products. That’s wrong.

So now I have to find a way of converting AAC files to DRM-free files. So it’s off to JHymn for the complete conversion experience. I’ve used JHym for several weeks now. It’s a great product that strips the DRM atoms from the m4a file. I absolutely needed this function so I could use Sony’s Acid product to build the soundtrack for my daughter’s basketball team DVD.

Now that I have the tool to unleash the music I’ve purchased, I’m not in too much of a hurry to convert the tracks I purchased last night. But I am really peeved that iTunes didn’t even attach the relevant album art to the songs. Now don’t think I bought some esoteric and cryptic album that isn’t on Amazon or GraceNotes. I bought Brian Wilson’s Smile. More about the album later. But I wanted the album art with the songs. So I started the quest for an artwork locator.

The most popular iTunes artwork locators are: Zelek’s iTunes Album Artwork Locator, and iTunes Art Importer. I prefer the iTunes Art Importer from YVG. Why? I can trial it first – and it uses the .Net framework. Since I am an IT architect, I love anything that vividly advertises itself as a web service! Of course, I have no idea whether anything is exposed as a web interface. But it’s worth checking out. Once I installed the product, I used it to get the relevant artwork for Brian Wilson’s Smile!

And so it goes. I buy an album and blog about two utilities I need to fully utilize the music. And I thought technology was supposed to make life simpler. 😉



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2 Comments on “Music Tagging & iTunes”

  1. Erik Says:

    I stumbled on your weblog purely by accident but it turns out that I faced your same AAC problem a little while ago. After a little fiddling, I discovered that iTunes will rip directly to mp3 format. You can do this by going to the iTunes menu > Preferences > Importing. You can encode in mp3, wav, aiff, aac, and apple lossless.


  2. CyclingRoo Says:

    Erik, thanks. Sometimes, it’s easy to miss the obvious! When I et back in town, I will fiddle myself. In the meantime, I wonder what it would take to get iTunes to natively rip to ogg.–>


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