15 January 2012

Convert iTunes Library

Let's get this straight right from the start:  iTunes has problems.  It can get the job done but, compared to MusicMatch from 1999, it is a pathetic excuse for a music library database.  The most basic functions, like using a networked drive of music, are a hassle to get right.  Still, we use iOS devices so we have to use it, so for nearly ten years my music listening habits have been collecting in a Windows iTunes library.

I now spent most of my time outside the office in OS X and you might think the parent company who made iTunes and had all of these lovely commercials about switching to the Mac might make the process extremely easy.  They did!  It only took me months to figure out how to do it.

There are a number of sites that talk about ways to copy all your music to the Mac or editing the iTunes library file and Google will help get you there.  My problem is that we have 100+ gigs of music on a networked drive and I have rated every single song.  While that might seem over the top it has actually been extraordinary for keeping all of my favorite songs on my iOS devices or copied over to the Amazon cloud by just using the four or five star rated music.  However, editing the library file would never work cleanly and simply pointing it to the new music location results in starting that three week process of rating every song all over again.  Not.  Gonna.  Do.  It.

My trick was to use fields that are stored in the music file itself to set the rating.  I placed the star number in the "disc" field and I put any information on which playlists the songs belonged in within the comments area.  I highlighted all of the one star songs, selected "get info" and set the disc field to "1".  Then highlighted the two star songs, selected "get info" and set the disc field to "2".  Continued this process until all of the information I wanted copied over was in those fields.

I then hopped on the MacBook Air and pointed iTunes in OS X to the music library and it spent the night settings up the database. After that was completed I added the "disc" and "comment" fields to the columns listed items for all songs and sorted by those fields.  Then it was just a matter of highlighting all of the "disc 1" items and selecting "get info" and setting the rating to 1 star.  I continued that process until all of the rating was set and I re-created the playlists for the music based on the information in the comment field.

I finally had my iTunes library converted.  I did lose the play count in this process but that was a small price to pay.

Note to Apple: It is pretty silly that this was the process you have to follow to simply convert an iTunes library from Windows to the Mac.  Most of your customers would just start over with only the geeks figuring out a way to get this done.  We should simply be able to copy over the iTunes library and tell it where the music is now located and - boom - the process should be done.  If you get bored this would be a great feature to add to your already bloated software.