In brief: TuneUp (500 song cleanups for free, $12/yr subscription, $20 lifetime license) makes it easy to find missing metadata for songs and missing album art.
I bet your music collection is a lot like mine used to be: a hodgepodge of mp3s, m4as, and other types of audio files that you’ve acquired over the years and ripped using various shareware products of dubious quality, resulting in hundreds or thousands of tracks that are misspelled, missing album names, and are generally a mess:
Sad Snippets of my pre-TuneUp music collection are coupled with…
… an even sadder dearth of album covers.
Sorting your library in iTunes yields a list of songs named “Track 01 – Insert Song Name Here” or “Kanye West Christmas Album 02: Jingle #(@*#ing Bells.” You’re missing album art, your genres are a mess. And, since doing a file-by-file fix would take hour upon frustrating hour, there’s no prospect of things getting better any time soon.
But don’t lose hope, because TuneUp (Windows only, Mac version coming this fall) is here to help. Launched earlier this year by the TuneUp Media, TuneUp offers a dead-simple way to scan audio files and correct missing or corrupt meta data, including album cover art. Its back-end is powered by Gracenote’s music fingerprinting service, which boasts a database of 80 million different tracks and 6 million albums.
Cleaning up your wayward tunes is easy – drag incomplete tracks to TuneUp’s interface, and the program returns results in a few seconds. Click to approve the suggested changes to update the file information, or reject suggestions or undo changes if you see a mistake.
In addition to scrubbing features, TuneUp offers a “Now Playing” companion that suggests YouTube videos, merchandise, and concert schedules for the song that you’re scrubbing or playing.
So what’s good?
- It works: I threw nearly 400 songs at TuneUp, and it found the correct track name, album, artist and genere for all but 2 – a godawful techno remix of Boys of Summer (like you don’t love DJ Sammy), and an instrumental version of the New York Mets theme song (my favorite ringtone). That’s 99.5%, for you stats geeks. TuneUp claims a standard 85% – 90% success rate, with most misses coming from remixes, unreleased live concert tracks, and the most obscure of obscure songs.
- It’s easy: Drag, drop, click. Done.
- If you don’t have a ton of music to fix, it’s free: TuneUp offers a free trial version that will clean up to 500 tracks.
- “Added value” is actually added value: The “Now Playing” section offers a fairly comprehensive list of videos, concert schedules, related music, and more. The merchandise and ticket auction sections feel like you’re having a bunch of referral links pushed at you, but they’re easily ignored.
What’s not as good?
- Clear the schedule: While TuneUp identified tracks quickly (2ish seconds apiece in my run), writing the metadata and album art was not. My 400 songs took nearly 15 minutes to find, 40 minutes to write.
- It’s not that I don’t love you, it’s just that sometimes I need some me time: Like a needy, whiney, insecure significant other, TuneUp won’t let you start iTunes without TuneUp tagging along. There is no feature in the preferences to disable this, and a forum posting on the topic doesn’t contain any reassurance that it will be coming anytime soon. Without uninstalling the program, I couldn’t find any obvious way to prevent TuneUp from loading.
As for my results? Take a look:
If you’ve got an eyesore of a music library that seems to taunt you every time you try and find a mislabeled track, you would be well-served by shelling out an Andrew Jackson to give TuneUp a try. It does what it says it will do, and does it well. As long as you’ve got a couple of hours to kill and don’t mind an application that loads every time you run iTunes, you will be rewarded with a music library that is so pristine that it looks like you actually paid for every single one of your tracks.
Editor (JT)’s Note: While I have both a personal and professional relationship with the TuneUp team, I did no edits whatsoever to this review, nor provide any direction or insight into the content, tone, etc. My only involvement was to provide an introduction between Dan Rubin (article author) and the individual providing reviewer support at TuneUp.