TuneUp cleans iTunes library

 Images Tune Up Logo Comp-1  Images Cleaning-1  Images Concerts
I have a huge iTunes library, more than 25,000 songs and 140+ GB. I've acquired my music from all over the place -- ripped from CD, downloaded, shared from friends, etc. As a result, many of the album, artist, and track names are a total wreck. Tunes are mislabeled, some artist names include "The" and some don't (Beatles vs. The Beatles), and a slew of tunes are titled "track 01," etc. A few days ago though, my friend Gabe Adiv fixed almost all my metadata for me. His company, TuneUp Media, just launched a plug-in for iTunes that cleans up your library's metadata and grabs the missing album cover art. It takes an "audio fingerprint" of each track and then gets the appropriate data from Gracenote's Global Media Database. It'll also let you know if you're missing any tracks from a particular album so you can buy them from iTunes or, er, find them elsewhere.

Right now, the TuneUp Companion is only available for Windows. (Mac version is coming in the Fall.) I don't use Windows, so last week I gave my hard drive to Gabe to test the software on his PC. He said it took about 12 hours to process my whole collection (10 hours to clean, 2 hours to get the cover art.) It couldn't find the metadata for approximately 500 tracks, but that doesn't surprise me because I easily have that many live concert bootlegs that aren't in Gracenote's database. The company claims they're averaging a correct rate of 85 to 90 percent. A quick flip through my library makes me think it worked even better than that for the metadata and about that well for album art.

TuneUp Companion has several other features that I haven't personally seen in action. It grabs contextual content from various places online. For example, if you're listening to "Creep" by Radiohead, the "Now Playing" feature will check YouTube for live videos of the song and search for bio info and music news. The Concert feature looks for tour information and can be set to alert you if a band is coming to your town. Gabe told me they're planning to open up the "Now Playing" API so anyone can create their own contextual content features.

For me though, the Clean feature is the big selling point. TuneUp costs $12 a year or $20 for a lifetime of use. A free version is available that cleans 500 songs so you can get a sense before you pay if it will work as well for you as it did for me.

TuneUp Media
TuneUp Companion demo video
Geek.com's TuneUp review
Download.com's TuneUp review


  1. I like the sound of it. My iTunes library is a modest 10,000 songs, but anything mispelled, wrongly assigned or unnamed bugs me no end.

    What I would really like to see is a program that provides detailed statistics of listening habits — not just when a song was last played, and how many times, but what kind of albums get played together, what times of day or days of the week, how long one spends listening to music at a time.

    I just think it would be neat, that’s all.

  2. @Maussist (#1), That would be an interesting analysis. Could be useful for automagically generating personalized playlists too.

  3. How does it handle dupes? One problem I’ve got is that I have some collections of albums that are also duplicated in other areas. I’d like to be able to see the duped albums and, I dunno, automatically compare bit rates or say “Any album in this directory takes precedence.”

  4. Does it automatically remove stuff that has been moved? That was one of my major problems with iTunes, that it didn’t clean up dead entries, so I just stopped using it.

  5. Your music collection is a mess. TuneUp fixes it.

    # Automatically clean your mislabeled music
    # Find your missing cover art
    # Be alerted to upcoming concerts based on your collection
    # Get the best music content from the web.

    What a great service TuneUp offers! The alerts for upcoming concerts based on one’s collection is truly revolutionary! Very impressive!


  6. @ULOR, I haven’t tried the MusicBrainz Picard app myself but a year or so ago I heard from several people that it doesn’t work very well. A commenter in Lifehacker’s TuneUP review apparently did a quick comparison too..

  7. @David, I have used it and its not as good as commercial versions, but for my money (nothing :P) it’s not bad as a cheap alternative and there is a Mac version.

  8. i installed this last night on my pc and it would only work if i put in like less than 100 songs at a time to clean. otherwise it would just freeze when getting the track data. id really like it to just go through my whole itunes library and clean everything but having to do it in batches 100 is going to be real tiresome.

  9. So, it’s like Amarok, except that it’s not Free, AND you need to pay for it, AND it doesn’t run on a Free OS, AND you can’t extend it to add, say, an instant lyrics look-up script, because there’s no API and no source, and even if you could get the source you’d be a criminal if you changed it.

    Wow, sounds great! I never wanted this stinking “soul” thing holding me back, anyway. Where do I sign up, and what other marvellous shiny lickable chains might Warden Jobs sell me? (This prison cell would be sooooo much nicer if the bars on the window had some sort of novelty interface!) Perhaps if I pay Mr Jobs twice what I pay that nasty Warden Gates, he’ll let me give him all my music and other audio recordings to look after as well. (Warden Gates’ guards are much ruder than nice Warden Jobs’ guards. They only hung me the right way up yesterday….)

  10. @IMIPAK (#14)
    You said:
    “AND you can’t extend it to add, say, an instant lyrics look-up script, because there’s no API”

    Ummmm….. Did you read my post?

  11. Ohhhhh… get it working for OS X, like, now (it’s weird to see something NOT for os x these days)! I have spent so many Sunday mornings cleaning up metadata, rating songs, etc. This would be a huge help!

  12. @IMIPAK,I have to admit Amarok does do this remarkably well, better than almost anything I have seen (I havent used TuneUp because I use Linux) and uses Wikipedia to give you info on the band, which is slick. My gripes about Amarok are two fold..one it only comes in *nix flavors, so I cant recommend it to friends of other technology persuasions (Mac and Win32), and two sometimes its just a little overkill for a music player. Usually if I want to just listen to a bit of music I turn on Pandora Radio and veg out. If I want to hear something in my collection I usually do load up Amarok.

  13. As a Mac user, I’ve found nClass Software’s Corripio to be a great help in cleaning up my iTunes library. It ain’t perfect, but it’s fairly easy to use and does a good job of grabbing missing artwork and fixing tags. Also, it’s free.

  14. “Averaging a correct rate of 85 to 90 percent” in a library of 25,000 tracks means it will mislabel a minimum of 2,500 tracks, and you won’t know which until you listen to them, and that’s only if you are familiar with the track already.

    I’m hoping that the phrasing in your post was incorrect and they meant that the “correct rate is 100 percent” with an 85-90 tracks being in the database.

    What my library needs is smart and robust dupe detection, and relinking and/or deletion of tracks not stored in the main library.

  15. If this is really that much better than Musicbrainz, as people say it is, then I’m in heaven.

  16. Installed this and so far it won’t do anything except install a nice little icon that sits there doing nothing.

  17. I used iEatBrainz (http://musicbrainz.org/) and it worked pretty well. Kind of annoying, but I got >95% of my metadata fixed. However, I’d be interested in getting Album Art updated as well as some of the extra features, so once it comes to OS X I’ll probably buy it.

  18. Hi All-

    Gabe Adiv here, CEO of TuneUp.

    First of all, thanks to boingboing for the post and for all of your supportive comments and emails!

    Rather than be redundant and respond to all of your comments individually, there seem to be a few themes here which I’ll address.

    Upcoming Features: We will be adding “deduping” shortly. Also, as David mentioned, we will be opening the API’s for our “Now Playing” feature. Lyrics and guitar chords are also on our road-map.

    Mac Release: We will be releasing a Mac version of TuneUp this fall. I promise. We’re currently testing it and it’s looking good. We just want to make sure it’s ready for prime-time.

    Pricing: We tried really hard to come up with a model that works for everyone. We feel as though the free version is quite robust and works well for those people who have average size music collections or just want to kick the tires a bit before cleaning up their massive collection. The paid version gives you two options – a year subscription or a lifetime subscription. Our business model supports licensing fees we have to pay and a healthy (but nimble:-) team here to support you.

    Other Services: I strongly encourage you to use what’s out there. For us, they were either really hard to use, required an installation of an entirely new media player or didn’t give results to our liking. That’s why we built TuneUp.

    Be sure to check out our “Now Playing” and “Concerts” features as well. Super fun and useful if you’re a music junkie like we are. If you have any further thoughts, suggestions or complaints feel free to check out our forum at http://www.tuneupmedia dot com/forum

    Thanks again for all of your support!



  19. The thing that always irks me about Gracenote is that dance DJs often get the short end of the stick, because there are still a lot of releases that were only on vinyl, so of course they won’t have the metadata available for MP3s of said vinyl. This wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that Gracenote-enabled software will often guess at these…and get it very wrong.

  20. what, no moderator attacking Gabe’s sig? Can I start signing my misinformed rants now?

  21. …This brings up the old DJ debate over how to file certain artists alphabetically. General consensus is that the Beatles should be filed under “B” for “Beatles, and MP3s should be labled without the “The”. On the other hand, there’s the question of whether to file “David Bowie” under “D” or “B”. Record stores – what few are left – can’t even agree on this, although they all file “Led Zepplin” under “L” and not “Z”, while “Frank Zappa” without fail goes under “Z”.

    And then there’s the dipshits who post MP3s of “Kung Fu Fighting” and lable it as a “Bee Gees” tune, but that’s another Topique Du Bitch altogether…:-P

  22. Not being a fan of iTunes, this isn’t for me. The ease of use sounds appealing though, probably enough to justify the cost if it works as advertised. But do iTunes users have a way to demo this before buying? Other similar apps are so hit-and-miss that I’d be wary before shelling out.

    I also wanted to put in another positive word for MusicBrainz. Not a good interface, but it works well (YMMV since music data can be so varied) and is free. I combine it with a separate file-deduper utility, but that’s because I’m comfortable with that level of PC micro-management.

    Also, just pointing out that this post was a plug that came after a service was provided to the poster (and was then followed up by a comment from the developer). This isn’t necessarily bad. I assume David paid for the service. If he didn’t, perhaps that should be noted.

  23. Whoops, I missed the sentence about the 500-song demo version. Scratch that part from my previous post.

  24. I tried the demo version and couldn’t figure out how to get it to do anything after installing it. It then crashed, so I uninstalled it. Not ready for prime time.

  25. @David (#14): sure I did. I guess you’re wondering if I missed this bit:

    …they’re planning to open up the “Now Playing” API so anyone can create their own contextual content features.

    and yes! yes, I did. (I won’t try to weasel out of admitting it by pointing that “the vendor tells me that…” doesn’t really stack up against “here’s the source, it works today, it was working last year and the year before that”. That would be lame, and I’d sound like some sort of freetard.

    However (yes, of course there’s a “…and another thing!” – you think my rep as just another flamey troll writes itself?) … however… why would anyone write “free” (gratis) plugins for a commercial product, to help someone else make money and take all the benefit? I’ll put some real folding cash, say $50, down to a charity of your choice if there are more plugins for this thing than there are for Amarok in, say, a year’s time. (Note – plugins you have to pay the programmer for don’t count.) Deal?

  26. I really, really love the idea of this. Wrong titles and missing album artwork drives me crazy, also.

    HOWEVER, if the program relies on Gracenote, I’m dubious. Automatically generated titles from Gracenote are often the cause of the problem of titular mistakes.

  27. i’ve always been a fan of musicbrainz. its free, works fine, and when it doesn’t, the corrections i make help other users.

  28. //HOWEVER, if the program relies on Gracenote, I’m dubious. Automatically generated titles from Gracenote are often the cause of the problem of titular mistakes.//

    Gracenote has audio fingerprinting technology available, however, iTunes does not natively use that feature, instead only using data like track length and number of tracks to estimate the disc and tracks.

  29. I’ve spent so many hours cleaning my 8,000+ song library (see, some people really DO need an 80GB iPod ;)… it’s maddening. Huzzah to any app that can do even a tenth of the work for me.

  30. @HARSHLANGUAGE (#33)
    You wrote:
    “Also, just pointing out that this post was a plug that came after a service was provided to the poster (and was then followed up by a comment from the developer). This isn’t necessarily bad. I assume David paid for the service. If he didn’t, perhaps that should be noted.”

    As I said in my post, I didn’t actually try the software myself. Gabe (a friend, as I disclosed) ran it on my hard drive before it was commercially released. There was also a free Beta program for the last few months.

    @IMIPAK (#37), How about we, er, don’t bet but instead both donate the $50 to charity. : ) Point taken.

  31. I have just one final comment about the MusicBrainz vs TuneUp. Picard is just one of many front-ends to this database, there is other front-ends and more front-ends can be developed. Also since most of it is Open Source, they do allow closed source access front ends for an additional fee, it can be improved and if you don’t like a feature or bug you can write it up to the developers and they will at least look at your suggestion (Some more than others *smirk*). Also just in case it wasnt obvious to people the tagger in Amarok is also based off this technology and is just an implementation of MusicBrainz. So you can have music players, which can do tagging automagically while you add them so that removes the double step of adding music to your player and correcting the tags. Resistance is spelled with an R.

  32. I’m not as geeky as many (most?) of you so, I just want something that works reasonably well. For $20 I figured, what the heck.

    If anyone’s interested, once I’ve had a day or two to play around w/ it, I’ll post my thoughts. I already have 2 posts in their forum…

  33. WinAmp does this with much less memory usage and much less time using the Auto Tag feature. It is uses Gracenote’s fingerprinting system.

    In which case a good many of the returned results are going to be about the same percentage — I get an error rate of about 20% in WinAmp. Never midn the obscure stuff that even Gracenote doesn’t have listed.

    Still, I do like things that make life easier, especially when the music collection is huge….

  34. Haven’t read the whole thread, so the chances are that neither have you, in which case you may not be reading this.

    I’ve got at this moment 32505 tunes in my library, just shy of 148 gigs. I’m pretty much obsessive about filling in the fields myself (and by the way, why does the “comments” field *still* cut off at 256 characters, lopping off the end of anything longer you’ve typed or pasted in? [end of rant.]) — I’ve created all kinds of wacky genres and categories, I’ve got “smart” playlists that depend on various tags saying certain things.

    So why would it be a good idea to have software go through my library and relabel things, without asking me to approve the changes? There are a LOT of mistakes on Gracenote. I correct them if I catch them… Do these programs uncorrect them?

    After my library’s been cleaned, can I revert to my original library if I decide this wasn’t such a good idea?

    I can see it working well with some categories, like composers. In my library, composers are listed last name first, or last name only, or with a first initial. Some classical pieces give the birth and death date of the composer. Teams are joined by &s and by ands, with slashes and with hyphens… I’d love to be able to standardize that mess of nomenclature.

    All in all, I’m dubious. And this is my friend, Dubin.

    But seriously folks, I dunno. It takes 12 hours to automatically do a library comparable to mine. If it’s stopping and asking for feedback and approval (as aren’t we all?) it’ll take way longer.

    It’s a great idea, and looks very cool, but I just dunno.

    Say goodnight, Dubin.

  35. This is fantastic. I tried IEatBrainz a few years ago (probably around 2004, and with a much slower Mac), and it never seemed to do anything. I assumed that this was because I have one of those ginormous libraries (right now around 120 gigs).

    I’ll gladly pay up once this is released for OS X. I try to keep things organized, but there are just too many years of neglect to manually fix everything. Plenty of my MP3s date back to 1998. Jeez. Has it really been 10 years?

  36. I don’t understand what people’s problem with this is… If you see a track that is named incorrectly, take the two seconds it takes to name it correctly.

    And before you know it, all your songs are named the right way.

  37. Oooooh, shiny. I have been doing all that manually and some days it feels like it’s taking over my life. I do have fun making up album art for stuff that doesn’t properly have any, though.

  38. I find it interesting to see what people’s definition of a “large music library” is.

    A large music library, by my definition, is greater than 1,000,000 tracks or 2 TB of data.

    150GB of music is not a large music library.

  39. OM @30, Amen.

    “Gillian Welch” is the name of a two-person band that happens to include a person named Gillian Welch. G or W? And on and on.

    What I would like to be able to to is tell iTunes that different names point to the same artist, like ACRES = Tim Acres. I would also like to have it show me “Chester and Lester” under both Chet Atkins and Les Paul or “The Notorious Cherry Bombs” under Rodney Crowell and Vince Gill. I know I there are ways to hack this with existing tags, but that’s a PITA.

  40. if your itunes library is out of shape that’s your own fault and you should neither have to rely on a third party app to clean it for you nor be complaining. i learned at an early stage at the beginning of itunes initial release to keep that shit under control and i have been reaping the rewards of a clean library ever since.

    the best method i’ve instituted is to load mp3s into a blank playlist then organize the id3 tags as clean as possible. once everything is ready i simply delete the playlist and all of the tracks are organized properly in the library.

    a little preproduction saves a lot of time and headaches in the future. i only wish my wife would follow suit. many years of no organization means five copies of every album ever made complete with misspelled tracks and artist names; it’s infuriating. thanks to auto sync attempting to navigate through her ipod is even worse!

  41. This looks awesome. Now if I could just get some software that would remove every mention of Violet Blue from my PC things would be great!

  42. Most of my tags were fine with old versions of iTunes, but Cover Flow splits every compilation into ~14 different albums. Fixing that problem in iTunes (tedious) usually does not fix the problem on my iPod, and since my collection is significantly larger than 150GB I stopped wasting time on it.

    I would try this service but my mp3s are mostly OOP vinyl rips. I doubt the albums are in their database, some do not even turn up in Google.

  43. I would love it if this thing could identify duplicate files and point out the one with the highest bit rate. And while I’m here about an iPhoto scrubber for Mac that dumps duplicates from the library….

  44. Paid MY $20 for Tune Up, all I got was the companion. Tried notifying customer service, but haven’t been able to penetrate their Office Outlook.

  45. Gave this a spin.

    After installing it and restarting iTunes again, I had the TuneUp window next to iTunes. Gave it an album without cover art to chew on.

    Then TuneUp crashed horribly. After restarting, the TuneUp window is now a black rectangle that on start gives me an “ok/cancel” prompt with no actual text in it, and crashes again when I click either ok or cancel.

    Yep, back to Musicbrainz for now.

  46. Well, after trying TuneUp for a day (do they know how many utilities are named with a variation of “TuneUp”?) I’m underwhelmed. They claim that the software has a 1 second per track lookup rate — it was taking upwards of five minutes per track here, on a broadband connection. Writing the tags and artwork to the files? I had a handful of tracks with new data, and after more than twelve hours it had done maybe three pieces of art and ten tracks.

    I’d say there are some issues there.

    It also claims that some 70% of my collection is mistagged. Er, no, it’s not.

  47. Hi All-

    Gabe here again, CEO of TuneUp. I am sorry some of you are experiencing technical issues.

    The ones described here sound like known issues re: Firewall and Vista admin rights. Please don’t hesitate to write to us at support@tuneupmedia dot com or check out our forum at http://www.tuneupmedia dot com /forum

    Would hate for you not to use us when there is a simple fix.


  48. Ho! No way, thanks. I’ve spent hours, probably literally days, making my tags read the way I want. I don’t need a program that will go online to Gracenote or CDDB and change all my tags back to a format that doesn’t know a composer from a performer and titles every track with a hideous concatenation of number-performer-album name (which usually includes both performer and composer)-composer-track name and gets cut off for length before it gets to the information that actually tells what I’m listening to.

    Probably fine for folks who just listen to cuts off of well-known albums, I’d guess, but thanks anyway.

  49. Sorry, not for me.

    I have over 6,000 songs (you decide if it is big or not) and I am a stickler for keeping the tags in my collection clean. I use (and like quite a bit) MediaMonkey for some of what TuneUp gives you. I don’t mind paying the $20 if it was really good, but get this:

    -It lists Alberta Hunter’s “Amtrak Blues” as Urban Blues. Yeah, maybe, but I like it better as Jazz Vocals. No way I am going to mindlessly turn TuneUp on my collection.

    -See what happens when you feed it TMBG’s Apollo 18 with 21 different songs all named “Fingertips”.

    One of the many things I like about MediaMonkey is its “Auto-Tag from Web” feature. It tells you every field it thinks it should change and you can turn any field update off if you don’t like its suggestions. Now that I see Tune-Up, there is no way I will let any program, no matter how good, automatically crawl through my music collection.

    Where I might use it is if I had a pile of stinking, steaming MP3 files in bad need of cleaning up. I might use TuneUp to do a first pass to get things into initial shape. But nothing beyond that.

  50. Am I the only person who bemoans the poor capitalization that exists for most titles gotten from Gracenote? I can’t figure out if it’s the result of iTunes users hitting “Submit CD Track Names” who just don’t know how to properly capitalize song and album titles for CDs they’ve tagged, or if Gracenote does it automatically somehow. It’s a trifling point for many, but kind of a sticking point for me. In fits of pathologically anal-retentive pique, I’ve spent whole hours correcting every wrongly capitalized “of” “the” “and” and so on I could find. TuneUp, I imagine, doesn’t search for incorrectly capitalized prepositions and conjunctions.

  51. Technical issues aside, this program relies on TuneUp uploading a copy of your iTunes library to their server (see their license agreement). Given the wide latitude courts are giving the RIAA to hunt/kill their customers, and the fact that GraceNote is owned by Sony, doesn’t that make anyone nervous?

  52. “Technical issues aside, this program relies on TuneUp uploading a copy of your iTunes library to their server (see their license agreement). Given the wide latitude courts are giving the RIAA to hunt/kill their customers, and the fact that GraceNote is owned by Sony, doesn’t that make anyone nervous?”

    Well, yes, Gracenote can track your music preferences, but they can do that already for every CD you rip through iTunes, of course. If Gracenote is like Google, then they never throw away that IP data and they know what was in your music library forever. One wonders when that will show up in an RIAA lawsuit, especially given how organizations like the BSA don’t even consider ownership of the original media and packaging to be proof of ownership–and given that the RIAA considers ripping your own CDs to be illegal infringement of copyright, so, to Sony, all of your rips are a copyright violation whether you have a receipt for the purchase or not.

    One also wonders if the RIAA considers using TuneUp to be “making available”???

  53. BOUGHT a copy last week…this is slower than a quadraplegic turtle.
    And, no, it isn’t a vista issue, I have xp sp2 (or did it upgrade to 3?)
    It hangs, they lose your login ID repeatedly, the lost password gizmo is broken…
    When you try reinstalling, turns out they lock you out after x tries.
    And, when it is obstensibly “working,” it mostly just sits there. Looking up, say, 10 songs takes a about 30 minutes, and if you try to download metadata, as far as i can tell, it never does…just hangs.
    I will say, though, that the tech support folks are nice guys…maybe it will be worth something in a few months, but not now.
    Caveat emptor…

  54. Tried this out…very unstable.

    Try FixTunes, you can use it with your iTunes or not and it adds album art, corrects misspelled and missing album information and helps you separate your duplicates. They have multiple servers too so it doesn’t take long to get your music looking the way you want!

    Highly recommend…they give you a 50 song trial period too, so you can make sure that it’s the right program to help you fix your music before you buy it.

  55. In fairness to TuneUp, their tech support emailed me one of their component files yesterday…now stuff works, and about as fast as they promised. Still buggy, but much, much better.

  56. I’ve been having some trouble with their software, but the tech support has been good. One thing that’s worth mentioning, though, that TuneUp never mentions on their website is that they track your hardware. The first question their tech support asked started with “I notice from our database that your hardware has changed a little bit recently, have you added or removed any external hard drives?” Not only is that super uncool and not helpful with stopping piracy, they should at least warn users that TuneUp is keeping tabs on them.

  57. I installed it and it works wonders! I am running Vista Ultimate and iTunes It is such a time saver. I have tried to manually update my metadata, but it is too time consuming. This did the trick. It’s not 100% perfect, however, it is well worth it and saved me hours of my life.

  58. Hi .. My tune up is no longer opening and keep telling me that the firewall has it blocked. The actual error message I receive is **Please make sure TuneUp’s Updater helper application called TuneUpUpdater.exe is not blocked by your firewall and then relaunch TuneUp.** I allowed full permission / access through my firewall . I even uninstalled it and reinstalled it. Same problem. Help please!

  59. Guess what?

    Good news: TuneUp finally released an update with the DeDupe functionality included, hoorah!

    Bad news: They’re now trying to charge their LIFETIME GOLD customers to upgrade?

    When you pay for a LIFETIME licence, you don’t expect to have to pay again. Imagine if Microsoft charged for service packs and bug fixes? They’ve singlehandedly annoyed their most loyal group of customers, most who’ve been with them since the beginning.

    So my advice, be wary. You could buy something you think you’ll pay for and get unlimited updates, only to find out a year down the line, you’ve got to pay again to access an upgrade.

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