Review: TuneUp – Organizing My Music Library

If you are like me, you have a massive music collection with tens of thousands of amazing songs; all of which you purchased completely legally (of course). If your collection is like mine though, it is also an organizational catasterfuck… duplicates, mis-tagged songs, missing artwork, random file names, etc.

So, if you find yourself facing the daunting task of organizing a massive collection of music, then you should totally buy this shit from TuneUp Media. You managed to steal buy over 100 GB of music, so the least you can do is cough up $20-$30 so you can tag and organize your collection.

TuneUp is an add-on for Windows Media Player and iTunes (same app, works with either/both).

I had no luck getting it to work with Windows Media Player reliably, but I HATE WMP, so… no loss there really. As an add-on for iTunes though, it works really well.

I really don’t like iTunes either, at least not as a daily-use media player, but for the task of organizing a large library I have been reasonably impressed with it’s ability. There are better general tools, but when you add-on TuneUp to iTunes it goes from being merely a capable library manager, to being outright amazing!

To perform my tuning, I used this procedure:

  1. Clear everything from the iTunes library
  2. Set TuneUp to write a message to the comments of the songs it tags (so you can see in the library which files you’ve updated).
  3. Modify iTunes library details view to display the comments column 
  4. Copy all of your busted music collection into the “MyMusic” folder in windows
  5. Drag 5 folders from MyMusic (in windows explorer) and drop them into the iTunes library window
  6. Select the songs in iTunes, right-click, and choose “get info”; check the box for “comments” and save the changes  to remove any existing comments from the songs.
  7. Drag the files from the iTunes library and drop them into the TuneUp’s “clean” window
  8. Let TuneUp do it’s thing and locate the info for your songs, then save all the appropriate suggestions from TuneUp (this updates the tags, and syncs the changes back to iTunes)
  9. Make any manual changes you need using iTunes media library (it actually has decent mass-tagging features)
  10. Select the newly fixed files in iTunes, right-click, and choose “consolidate files”. This copies the files to the iTunes media folder.
  11. Copy the fixed-up folders and files (in windows explorer) from the iTunes media folder to an external drive or some other destination folder where you want to keep the polished-up collection.    
  12. Select all files in the iTunes library and delete them; choose send to recycle bin. This gets iTunes ready for the next batch of files you want to sort out. 
  13. Repeat from step 5 for the remainder of your collection.

TuneUp isn’t perfect, but it has access to a very nice range of online music databases, and it also performs a playback analysis of your music, so it doesn’t rely just on the existing tags and file names to match the files to the online databases. Because it listens to the files and uses existing tags and filenames too; it is very good at tracking down the right CD info for you. But sometimes, you’ll still need to manually manage parts of your collection. The nice thing about TuneUp is that it doesn’t automatically write changes; it tells you what it came up with, then lets you decide if you want to save the changes back to the files.

TuneUp does other stuff too. It has features I personally don’t care about such as locating concerts, suggesting similar music to what you are listening to, and even the obligatory social networking stuff. But for organizing a media library, it has more than earned the $30 I spent on the full license. The fact that it does other stuff might matter to you though; especially if you are debating the annual license ($20) vs. the full unlimited use license ($30).