Thursday, December 18, 2008

TuneUp for the Mac, + 5 Days...

As you likely noted in my earlier post on TuneUp, I'm excited by the prospect of having a mechanism to clean up my reasonably large and very disorganized iTunes library. After using the program for a day, I purchased the lifetime subscription for $19.95. Is it perfect? No. Is it better than anything else I've found? Yep, absolutely.

Shortcomings include no mechanism to know if you've already cleaned a song. Case in point--I have a ton of compilations (e.g., KFOG's "Live from the Archives" series, lots of soundtracks) which haven't been well-categorized. I started my cleansing by doing a search on the word "various" in iTunes' search box, resulting in more than 3000 hits. Cleaning each of those songs took time and effort, in that sometimes the song would no longer have "various" in its metadata; other times, it'd go to the bottom of the list, resulting in the need to be re-cleaned. Afterwards, starting at the top of the alphabet and working my way down through the As, songs end up being properly classified further down in the alphabet, so that when I reached C, I'd find songs that I know had already been cleaned. And, TuneUp's estimated times remaining often bear as much resemblance to reality as my gas mileage does to what was on the sticker.

(What's that? I have to drive 55 mph for that to work? Oh. Never mind.)

Still, all that is mere kvetching. Four letters are justification alone for you to purchase at least a one-year subscription, if not the lifetime version--SXSW. Austin's most awesome South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival publishes each year's music in a torrent format. The range of quality music available annually is nothing short of breathtaking. However, the vast quantity of music can take your breath away, in terms of trying to figure out what's to your liking. Over the years 2004-2008, I had thousands of SXSW songs in my iTunes collection, classified by nothing other than the album name ("SXSW") and the year. If you don't mind sitting down for the next week or two straight, you might have a shot at hearing a bunch of songs you like, assuming you haven't drifted into delirium after your first night of not sleeping. Plus, as much great music you'll find that you'd likely never otherwise discover, there's quite a bit of music which I'll politely classify as "not to my taste". But, in terms of trying to figure out which of those thousands of songs I truly liked has been really, really tough.

Enter TuneUp. I threw about 500 songs from one year at TuneUp, which did an admirable job of matching about 80% of the songs with album cover art and metadata. The process took a few hours, but running it overnight meant I didn't have to babysit the program. The following night, I threw the remainder of my SXSW songs at TuneUp. While the application crashed overnight, it recovered nicely the next morning, having kept a record of what it had seen, as well as the matches it found. And, even more interesting, if you throw a bunch of songs at TuneUp that it knows it's cleaned previously, it'll absolutely rip through the process--it's when a single or a few songs are intertwined with other songs/albums it hasn't seen before that TuneUp slows down.

But, net-net, TuneUp's a winner. I can now listen to all that SXSW music by genre, rather than taking an entirely random approach. Worth the $19.95 lifetime subscription just for that? You betcha.

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