How to Consolidate and Manage Your Music Library

by Reads (16,815)

The Internet’s cloud is a bit like an attic. People frequently stash things there, often in a disorganized fashion, and then quickly forget about them. Unlike an attic, which has become a de facto graveyard for many CD collections, the cloud is a useful tool for music fans.

ITunesCloud-based music services lets you listen to music from a multitude of devices — from a tablet in your kitchen to your phone on the subway — instead of only when seated in front of your computer where your local music library may reside. The problem arises when you have your music collection spread across multiple cloud services and lose track of which songs you have on which service.

If your music collection has spiraled out of control across the cloud, then it’s time to consolidate it. We will show you how to take music across three of the more popular cloud music services — Amazon Music, Google Play Music, and Xbox Music — and consolidate them into the most popular music manager, iTunes. Then we will tackle the chore of tidying up your iTunes library, deleting duplicates, finding missing album art, and filling in metadata.

From Amazon to iTunes

Amazon makes it insanely simple to align music purchased from it with your iTunes library, but you need the Amazon Music app, available for both Mac and PC, instead of just accessing the service from a browser. The app features two settings that open a pipeline directly to iTunes for all Amazon Music purchases.

Start in the General tab of Preferences and check the box to “Automatically download Amazon Music purchases.” And then just below that, click the radio dial for “Export downloads” to iTunes.

Amazon Music general preferences

Amazon Music general preferences

With these two settings enabled, any music you purchase from Amazon gets added to your iTunes library as soon as it lands in your Amazon Music library.

Of course, you may have previous purchases on Amazon Music that weren’t automatically downloaded and exported to iTunes. For those, you can drag tracks and albums from the Your Library tab to the box labeled “Download to your computer” in the lower-right corner of the app. You can also right-click on any track and choose Download from the contextual menu. Additionally, there is a Download button in the upper-right corner when viewing an album in Amazon Music.

If you have the “Export downloads to iTunes” setting enabled, the tracks and albums you manually download from Amazon Music to your computer will automatically be exported to iTunes. Otherwise, they end up in your Music folder under Libraries. Without the auto-export setting enabled, you will need to open iTunes and go to File > Add to Library to import the tracks.

From Google to iTunes

There is no such automatic pipeline to iTunes from Google Play Music as there is with Amazon Music, but it’s still a relatively quick and painless process. For starters, you don’t need a separate app to download music from Google Play Music but you will need to use Chrome and the Google Play Music Chrome extension.

With the extension installed, open Google Play Music and choose either the Album or Song view. Mouse over an album or a song and click the button with three vertical dots, which is typically next to the song title. One of the options will be Download or Download Album. After choosing a location for your download, click the Download now button. Next, open iTunes and go to File > Add to Library to export the album or track to iTunes.

Google Play Music download option

Google Play Music download option

From Xbox Music to iTunes

For users of Microsoft’s music offering, you may have music on OneDrive that you listen to with the Xbox Music service. To move from OneDrive to iTunes, you will follow the same two-step route as Google Play Music of first downloading the files to your computer and then adding them to iTunes.

There’s no need for a OneDrive app, as this can be done in a browser. From your OneDrive Music folder, there are two ways to initiate a download. You can download an entire folder by clicking Folder Actions from the menu at the top and then choosing “Download folder.” Or you can select certain files by mousing over their album art and checking the box in the upper-right corner when in Thumbnails view. In Detail view, check the box along the left edge to select files. With a file or files selected, a Download option appears in the menu at the top of the page.

OneDrive music download

OneDrive music download

Files from OneDrive are downloaded to your default folder for downloads; we did not find a way to choose a different location. We also didn’t find an option to export automatically downloads to iTunes as you can with Amazon Music. So, with your files downloaded from OneDrive to your Downloads folder, open iTunes and go to File > Add to Library to move the files to iTunes.

iTunes management

After adding music from to your iTunes library, the first order of business is to find and eradicate duplicates. Thankfully, iTunes makes this seemingly tedious chore a simple one. In iTunes, make sure the Menu bar is showing (click the dropdown box in the upper-left corner for that option), and go to View > Show Duplicate Items.

Before you begin deleting the duplicates from the list, see if the same song may be from different albums. You wouldn’t want to delete a blistering song off of a live album, for example, and keep only the studio version. To avoid such an occurrence, click the Same Album button centered at the top of the list. Now the list will show you duplicates that are only on the same album.

iTunes Show Duplicate Items

iTunes Show Duplicate Items

One last note on duplicates deletion: be sure you add Bit Rate as one of the filter options by right clicking on the column headers at the top where it shows Name, Time, Artist, Album, and so on. With the bit rate displayed, you can remove the duplicate with the lower bit rate if there is a difference between the two.

With your duplicates deleted, it’s time to find missing album art. For an album lacking album art, right-click on it and select Get Album Artwork. If iTunes finds a match, it’ll add it right then and there. If iTunes’s search comes up empty, you can add art yourself. Head to Google and search for the album. Open the image in your browser and keep the window open next to iTunes. In iTunes, right-click on the album select Get Info.

Next, click the Artwork tab of the Get Info window and then drag the image from your browser to this box. If dragging doesn’t work, you can save the image to your desktop and then click the Add Artwork button on the Artwork tab of the Get Info window.

Lastly, you may find some metadata is missing for some albums or tracks. Right click on an album or track and select Get Info to view its metadata. Careful cultivators of their music library will want to take a close look at the Details tab of the Get Info window to ensure that artist, album, track, and genre information is accurate.

You may also find that compilation albums clutter the view of your library when browsing by Artist, where many artists are added to the list that have only one song in your music collection by way of a compilation album. For such albums, check the box for Album is a compilation of songs from various artists. This removes the artists on the album from the All Artists view in iTunes. And you can still find your compilation albums when browsing by artists; iTunes puts them in a Compilations group that is listed just below All Artists in the left panel.

Altogether Now

iTunes Match

iTunes Match

With a few easy steps and some quick tidying up in iTunes, you can get your entire music library neatly organized and in one place. iTunes works for both PCs and Macs, but if you have embraced Apple’s ecosystem, you can use iTunes Match to access your music library not only from your computer but also from an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Apple TV.

For $25 a year, iTunes Match lets you store your music collection in the cloud. Better yet, it doesn’t force you to go through the laborious process of uploading you entire music library. Instead, it matches your collection with the more than 43 million songs in the iTunes Store and uploads only those deep cuts for which it cannot find a match.

To enable iTunes Match on your computer, open iTunes and go to Store > Turn On iTunes Match and then click Subscribe. On an iOS device, go to Settings > MusicSubscribe to iTunes Match. And as an addd bonus, iTunes Match can make your music sound better; it plays music from iCloud at a bit rate of 256Kbps, even if your version of the track was of lower quality.

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