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Summary:

iTunes cleanup software TuneUp has been undergoing some exciting changes. Last week, TuneUp launched a new UI, and today the company is announcing the availability of the software at Apple Store retail locations in the U.S. Over 250 Apple Stores will now offer a retail-packaged version […]

WebiTunes cleanup software TuneUp has been undergoing some exciting changes. Last week, TuneUp launched a new UI, and today the company is announcing the availability of the software at Apple Store retail locations in the U.S. Over 250 Apple Stores will now offer a retail-packaged version of TuneUp for $29.95.

I had a chance to review the newest version, but first let’s see what’s new:

  • Field-specific cleaning: TuneUp will now allow users to set which metadata it saves by default. This is also available on a per-album basis, which is great for mixtapes where you want to save artist/track name, but keep the original album title.
  • A greatest hits toggle: TuneUp will allow users to avoid compilations when matching songs to albums. This feature makes it easier for users to keep songs organized by the album on which they originally appear.
  • Playlists on Mac: Mac users can now choose whether they’d like TuneUp to create playlists of dirty/cleaned songs.

TuneUp Reviewed

I was very excited to give TuneUp a try. I love music and have a large iTunes library, so any help managing it is very welcome. I tried out the four basic features of TuneUp, and my experience with each is outlined below.

Clean is a two-step process. First, you drag-and-drop one or more songs from iTunes to TuneUp. Then, you verify the results and click Save. TuneUp identifies tracks by taking an audio fingerprint of each one and sending them to an online reference database.

clean
Right away, I was disappointed that you can only clean 500 songs at a time. When I first read about the software, I assumed you could do your entire library at once. I have around 12,000 songs in my library, so if I wanted to clean my entire collection it would take me a minimum of 24 “cleans.” Luckily, most of music is tagged correctly, so I anticipate only having to clean about 5 percent of it, but if I were super-neurotic and wanted the whole thing done, I would have a lot of work on my hands.

Since I knew doing my whole library in one evening was not a realistic goal, I started by cleaning songs and albums that I knew for certain were incorrect. I scrolled down, found an album, and then simply “dragged and dropped” it into TuneUp and let it work its magic. Although it took quite awhile, I was very, very happy with the results; every song I dropped in was found and properly tagged.

Cover Art scans through your collection, identifies songs that are missing art, and then searches various web sources for artwork which you can save back to iTunes.

cover_art

When I had an iPod video, I didn’t care about cover art; I just thought it was a waste of space. With the iPhone, my views on cover art completely changed. The iPod app on the iPhone displays music in such a way that the artwork is actually important.

I am happy to report that the cover art feature worked very well and even scanned my entire library at once, unlike Clean. I clicked once to start the scanning process and walked away. When it was done scanning, I clicked the “Save All” button and walked away again. I will admit that it took a long time to both scan my library and save the artwork, but I didn’t care because I didn’t have to be present while it was working.

This scanning of my entire library approach was how I envisioned the cleaning process would work, and if it did, the software would be perfect. You could “set it and forget it.”

Tuniverse (formerly the “now playing”) tab shows information about the current track including live videos, artist news, and merch.

tuniverse

The section reminds me of Last.fm, but is poorly executed. It has tons of subsections, including videos, bios, concert notifications, album recommendations, song recommendations, Google news, tickets and merch, all of which makes it a bit too busy and not nearly as polished as the rest of the UI. I understand what they were going for when they included this extra information in Tuniverse, but ultimately it feels unnecessary, and I think TuneUp would actually benefit from ditching it altogether.

Concerts alerts based on your collection.  Never miss another show.

concerts

This tab was a total surprise and is awesome. It goes through your music library, looking at all of your artists, and then lists concerts in your area (in my case, NYC — which it automatically detected) in chronological order. I love going to see live music, and if I have the artist in my iTunes library, I am interested in seeing them in concert, but rarely check to see what shows are coming up (this is just me being lazy). This tab makes finding concerts and purchasing tickets almost too easy!

Overall Verdict:

TuneUp is a great piece of software that does exactly what it claims to, but at the cost of being somewhat time-intensive. I highly recommend TuneUp to anyone looking to clean up their library, but offer the warning that it isn’t as simple as dragging all your music in and walking away for a few hours. If it were,  it would truly be the “magic pill” of music organization.

I look forward to future updates where TuneUp becomes faster, more accurate, and ideally becomes a one-click solution, but even in its current state, I will gladly use and recommend it.

  1. This is a great add-on that does what it says although the cover art feature is sometimes a bit off. but none are perfect.

    The biggest problem I have is that it tends to suck up tons of CPU power for doing nothing. It also crashes quite a bit.

    I installed the latest update only recently so hopefully the problems are fixed.

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  2. Would love to hear if this version of the app eats less CPU. Great idea, terrible execution on the first two revisions.

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  3. The local-concert functionality is already available using the free and awesome iConcertCal (google it), and it also does album releases, and pops up a notification every time you play a song by an artist with a soon-to-be-released album or playing a local show. You can even share your lists with others. Great and free.

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  4. [...] TuneUp Update Brings New Features for Obsessive-Compulsive iTunes Users "TuneUp is a great piece of software that does exactly what it claims to, but at the cost of being somewhat time-intensive. I highly recommend TuneUp to anyone looking to clean up their library, but offer the warning that it isn’t as simple as dragging all your music in and walking away for a few hours. If it were, it would truly be the “magic pill” of music organization." (tags: iTunes tools usability plugin user-experience) [...]

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