How To Check If iTunes Match Will Recognize All Your MP3s [How To]

How To Check If iTunes Match Will Recognize All Your MP3s [How To]

One of the big questions about Apple’s upcoming iTunes Match is how the online music service will handle songs acquired from non-standard sources, like analog LPs, or yes, file-sharing networks.

Coming this fall, iTunes Match will scan your iTunes library and make available in the cloud all the songs you’ve purchased online or ripped from CDs.

But Apple hasn’t explained what will happen with songs encoded from sources like tapes or LPs; or those couple of tracks you accidentally downloaded from a file-sharing network and forgot to delete. Will iTunes Match reject these songs or make them available?

In theory, the system should recognize most digitzed music. Apple has explicitly said it will not discriminate based on source, and someone likely ripped the songs from CD before sharing them with the world.

We’ve found a way for you to check how iTunes Match will treat your music library before Apple makes it public.

iTunes Match is above all a convenience feature. It makes your music library available in the cloud without having to actually upload it. Here’s how it works:

iTunes determines which songs in your collection are available in the iTunes Store. Any music with a match is automatically added to your iCloud library for you to listen to anytime, on any device. Since there are more than 18 million songs in the iTunes Store, most of your music is probably already in iCloud. All you have to upload is what iTunes can’t match. Which is much faster than starting from scratch. And all the music iTunes matches plays back at 256-Kbps iTunes Plus quality — even if your original copy was of lower quality.

Whether the technology is based on metadata or audio fingerprinting like MusicBrainz, Apple hasn’t said.

But its partner has. In a posting to its Facebook page, Gracenote has revealed that iTunes Match will use the company’s MusicID software to identify tunes.

“… the iTunes Match service uses Gracenote MusicID to help recognize tracks in a user’s existing music collection.”

Gracenote’s MusicID is an advanced music-recognition system that can identify songs from CD, digital files like MP3s or audio streams. It then matches songs against Gracenote’s vast library of music metadata. It is already built into iTunes — to add song and artist data to music ripped from CDs. It is also behind the Genius recommendation engine. MusicID is not directly available to the public, but is used by Spotify, Yahoo Music, Winamp and Pandora, and many others.

How To Check If iTunes Match Will Recognize All Your MP3s [How To]

Gracenote’s MusicID also powers TuneUp, a $30 plugin for iTunes that cleans up your music library.

Using Gracenote’s MusicID, TuneUP scours your iTunes library, fixing mislabeled tracks. It can add song metadata to the myriad untitled tracks and fix mistakes like spelling errors.

The plugin is available for both Mac and Windows, and should give you a pretty good idea how your iTunes library will shape up when Apple releases iTunes Match. In other words, if TuneUp recognizes tracks that you’ve downloaded from questionable sources, chances are that iTunes Match will also.

TuneUp attaches as a sidebar window to the main iTunes window. You simply drag tracks you want tuned-up to the TuneUp window. It runs an audio fingerprint scan on the files and fixes the metadata on tracks it recognizes. Songs that aren’t recognized are unchanged.

Here is a short video of it in action:

TuneUp Tour Video from TuneUp Media on Vimeo.

It may not recognize everything in your iTunes library. TuneUp only supports .mp3 and .m4a files.

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  • Brandon Hite

    Isn’t the MusicID app powered by Gracenote as well? I have it on my iPhone and it works great.

  • Guest

    Any idea how it will handle user-added tags?  I change all the metadata in my classical music collection (you know, because itunes is awful with classical) and I wonder if there will be a way to use that info without uploading my entire collection.  Something tells me that there won’t be….

  • crateish

    What I want to know is how albums/songs with multiple releases, some pre-iTunes, will be handled.  For instance, there have been two CD releases of The Beatles catalog. If I have the 1980s CD of Sgt. Pepper, will I get access to the 2009 version? Or nothing?

  • dude

    Great ad; I mean article. Freudian slip there.

  • Dan

    So ripping tracks from the radio coils still result in the same ID as a genuine ripped CD?

  • TylerHoj

    Wouldn’t you be able to use “Get Album Artwork” to get a rough estimate of what it is going to be brought to the cloud. I would think that if Apple doesn’t have an album cover for your track, then the track itself is not within iTunes because ALL of iTunes tracks have accompanying album art.

    I went ahead and tested my theory and the only some old demo’s from my friends band and a few B-Sides were not found. This was 7 of the 146 albums I have in my iTunes. Turns out 6 of the 7 are not found within the iTunes store. 

    I’m not sure if this is going to work for everyone, especially if your itunes library is a wreck of mismatched music and song titles. But it gave me a rough estimate of everything, so I’m happy. Thought I’d pass along the method.

  • brownlee

    That’s actually an excellent idea, although I’d certainly hope iTunes Match will be better at matching than the Get Album Artwork feature, which never works with my collection very well.

  • brownlee

    We are not being paid in any capacity by TuneUp. They legitimately are offering a very similar, linked service: we have no financial relationship with them whatsoever. 

  • brownlee

    I think it’ll only do exact matches. Similar versions, if it doesn’t have an exact match, it’ll make you manually upload.

  • tiresius

      If the new IOS has spellcheck, it would prevent statements like this one which was found in this article:

    “…the system should recognize most digitzed music.”

    Yeah, but how does it handle digitized music?

  • brownlee

    I think you’re right.

  • brownlee

    I doubt it too. I’m sure Apple hates user edited tags and can’t wait to get rid of them. I don’t see them allowing users to fuck with iTunes Match songs once they’re on the server.

  • TheLip

    Everyday I finding less value from Apple and more reasons to move away from them.

  • CharliK

    Or you can just wait until iTunes Match comes out, sign up for the $24.99, find out and save $5.

  • CharliK

    Trouble is, when you do an article like this with only one solution, it’s hard to believe that you aren’t getting something out of the deal. Be it cash or some other payment. 

  • Karl Lopez

    I don’t have album name for a lot of my songs. What are the chances it will still find them? Also, since it will sync on the cloud, will it erase all the old music files and download the new ones? What happens if we stop paying, do we loose all of our music?

  • Karl Lopez

    I don’t have album name for a lot of my songs. What are the chances it will still find them? Also, since it will sync on the cloud, will it erase all the old music files and download the new ones? What happens if we stop paying, do we loose all of our music?

  • Esteban Cruz

    If iTunes matches an MP3 file, will that format be preserved or will the matched song be downloaded in AAC format on the rest of my devises using iTunes Match?  I have my whole library in MP3 and would like to keep it that way.

About the author

Leander KahneyLeander Kahney is the editor and publisher of Cult of Mac. He is the NYT bestselling author of Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products; Inside Steve’s Brain; Cult of Mac; and Cult of iPod. Leander has written for Wired, MacWeek, Scientific American, and The Guardian in London. Follow Leander on Twitter @lkahney and Facebook.

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