Itunes and importation of music from Windows

I have a vast (>1000) collection of ripped CDs. I actually own/have in my possession all the physical media. They were all ripped using Windows Media Player @320kbps. Many times I had to make my own album pictures (the Folder.jpg) that represents the album cover. So, I get an Ipod as a gift. I want to bring a portion of my collection into the Ipod. I assume I need to get my ripped collection into Itunes first What will actually happend to the contents of each album’s folders? Will any Windows type file be deleted and replaced with Apple analogues, or will each folder have a superset of support files? I’d really hate if Apple went out and tried to replace any album art that was “unofficial” with new versions (which may not even exist).

I ripped my cd’s into Windows Media sometime ago. When I bought an ipod, I downloaded itunes and synchronized itunes with WM. The art work in WM is displayed under the “Playlists” and not under “Music.” After I made a playlist with my music in itunes, the art work was shown there to. (I cannot say whether your created art will be shown.) However, every time itunes issues an update, everthing in the playlist is deleted, so I got tired of creating playlists in itunes.

OP Here; sorry for the long gap in replying. A bit of clarification. I used WM to rip all my CDs but I do not use playlists at all. I use the latest (and final) version of Zune software to transfer data between my “temporary library found under My Music” and my Zune. I say temporary because I am constantly modifying its contents to suit my listening moods. With that in mind, I want to do the same sort of transference from “My Music” to my new iPod.
The artwork under WM resides in each individual album’s folder, along with the mp3s.
I never synchronize “My Library” with the outside world because I have had song titles and artwork trashed/modified.

I am trying to avoid similar synch-up issues in the iTunes world.

I am hoping that iTunes can painlessly import from “My Music” to whatever folder it requires on my PC, and that it not alter any existing artwork originally found in the My Music folder, nor modify any song or album titles.

I learned from another poster recently that it’s easiest to just drag and drop your music onto the iTunes icon. The software will put it where it belongs if you choose the “let iTunes organize your files” or something similar in the preferences window.

You should think of iTunes as a library’s card catalogue. When you open iTunes (to sync with your iPod or play music directly) it shows its database of music and knows where each track is on your hard drive.

It doesn’t care where they are, as long as they’re where it thinks they should be. And where it thinks they should be is where you’ve told it they are when you do the initial import.

You have two options for doing that: In iTunes preferences, there’s an option for “copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library”. If that is not checked when you import music, iTunes will merely create a pointer to the tracks no matter where they currently live on the hard drive. If you re-organize your folder structure sometime later, iTunes will be confused by this.

If the option is checked, when you add some music to the iTunes library, iTunes will make a copy and create a reference to that copy. Then you’re free to do whatever you like with the originals.

There’s also an option for “Keep iTunes Media folder organized”, which will automatically create folders for albums and artists and organize your folder that way.

An important thing to realize about iTunes is that it really prefers that once you’ve imported the files, you don’t deal with the files themselves — you deal with them (updating tags, deleting, etc.) through iTunes. You can create as many different playlists as you want and choose which ones to sync to your iPod through iTunes. You can choose songs you always (or never) want to be present on your iPod through iTunes. You won’t be selecting files from a folder and dragging them to the iPod or anything like that. If you try to mess around with the files once you’ve imported them into iTunes, you’re likely to have problems.

Returning to the library analogy:

Creating a playlist and syncing would be like pulling cards for a list of books you’d like to check out, then handing them to the librarian. She’ll return with your books, you don’t go get them yourself.

Rearranging your folders manually after you import would be like if you go back into the stacks and start looking for the books yourself and, say, you organize them alphabetically instead of the Dewey Decimal System. Then the next time you hand the card to the librarian, she’s going to have a hard time finding the book you need.

I really appreciate the inputs here but I’m still not getting it and I think its because I’m fundamentally a song jumper. I don’t use playlists ever, nor do I intend to start.

Sounds like you’re saying I tell iTunes that the songs/albums I own are in “My Music”.
That’s fine. But can it cope with the artwork in those folders which are in WM format?
If it is compelled to rename Folder.jpg to an iTunes analog, them I’m okay. If its going to say “WTF is Folder.jpg-go out to the net and get the artwork” then I’m going to be unhappy, since I’ve mentioned that many of my CDs have self made artwork because the site that WM imports artwork/titles from is lacking.

I recommend allowing iTunes to copy the music you import to its own folder, and allowing it to organize that folder automatically. Once you import the music into iTunes (if you do it this way) you never need to (and never should) deal with the actual file/folder structure again (unless/until you switch to something else to deal with your music).

I don’t know how/if it will handle the artwork. There is a box for “automatically retrieve missing album artwork from Internet” (or something like that) which you’ll want to leave unchecked. In most cases I have experienced if something is a .jpg it should work.

I’m not sure what a “song jumper” is, but you’ve said you keep modifying a folder’s contents to suit your listening mood. You’re not going to be able to do that with iTunes. It just doesn’t work that way. If you try to modify the contents of the folders containing your music directly, you will break the links iTunes creates to your music. Instead (assuming I understand what you mean) you should create a single playlist in iTunes. Call it “I AM A FOLDER” if it makes you happy. Then drag and drop songs into and out of that “folder” and sync that folder to your iPod.

**Chefguy **- no offense intended, but you still seem a bit confused on how the whole thing works with iTunes. I recommend not giving people advice involving their 1000s of songs they’ve meticulously organized.

BwanaBob - here’s the deal. The folders you’ve set up for your Zune software are entirely irrelevant as far as iTunes is concerned. Regarding your cover art - I honestly have no idea. The best piece of advice I can give you is to move your music collection to an exterior harddrive, and copy over a couple albums to see how iTunes is going to interact with them. Figure out what iTunes does with a small sample of music, then move on from there.

You’re probably right. :smiley: Isn’t there a check box to un-check to keep iTunes from finding cover art on their website?

No, but there is a specific command you can give iTunes in one of the dropdown menus - “Advanced”–>“Get Album Artwork”. I have no idea where or how iTunes stores that information.

And thanks for taking my comment how I intended it - i.e. non-offensively!

A man has got to know his limitations. -Dirty Harry. Or was it that other Eastwood character?

The monkey from “Every Which Way But Loose”?

iTunes stores artwork in the ID3 file tag or in its own file system. I don’t think it can deal with a jpg just stored in a folder (unless the artwork is also already embedded, in which case it won’t mess with it - even the “Get missing artwork” command never replaces existing artwork, it only works with “empty” ones). Another problem you might encounter is the file format - while iTunes can of course read MP3 it cannot read WMA, which is, I believe, WMP’s default format. You’ll have to convert on import.

I am also not entirely sure what you mean by your organising system. Like others have said, once the files are in iTunes, I would recommend letting iTunes deal with them and forgetting they ever existed. iTunes will not change the tags of your files on its own, but it will make modifying them much easier. The more information you have, the easier it will be to manage your music in playlists and smart playlists. Can you tell us why you intend to never use playlists? Maybe we can alleviate some of your worries.

I don’t listen to organized lists of songs - hence no playlists. I literally play a song from Album A, then pick another track from Album B, ect. I don’t listen to the same sequence of songs.

All my songs were ripped mp3 (320 kbps), not wma.

My intention was to copy a selection of artists (with their albums) from my external hard-drive into the PCs “My Music” folder. Then I was going to let iTunes have at that source material. If it has to make its own tree with its own layout I’m okay with that; again, I just don’t want iTunes to go out to some server, decide that I have wrong titles or incorrect artwork, and make modifications.

Don’t worry, it won’t. Just make sure to set the settings as described in this thread, and everything should work great with your iPod. I get your issue with playlists now, but rest assured, you never have to use one once.

In case not all your artwork shows up in iTunes, just select all songs in that album, right-click, Get Info, and paste or drag your jpg in the artwork field. If you let iTunes manage your files, it will even update the actual file. Likewise if you edit a name or genre - however, only if you do it yourself. iTunes will never change that information by itself.

Thanks, Pitchmeister (and everyone else who contributed)!

CODA to this affair:

I pulled a small subset of artists and their albums into a temp folder.
I did the Add Folder to Library and sure enough it populated iTunes with the albums.
No artwork was visible. It also left all Windows/Zune related files untouched.
I was able to add artwork via the method outlined by Pitchmeister.

I then got bold and wanted to add more artists. So I first added 2 more artists into the temp folder. I then decided to get fancy and go to Advanced Preferences and set iTunes to copy files to iTunes Media Folder when adding Folders. Then I readded.

I now have a iTunes folder (under My Music no less) and the artists folders are now under there with the albums, but all Windows/Zune specific files were left behind. I still had to manually add the artwork for the new artists.

All in all, fairly painless, but the lack of artwork portability is a big pain in the ass. When you have over 1000 CDs, the thought of having to manually add artwork for each really sucks.

Apple’s “iTunes” is a desktop software program for both Windows and Mac that allows you to manage and organize your music and video files and transfer them to an iPod, if you have one. In the event of a computer hard-drive crash, iTunes files may or may not be recoverable, depending on the circumstances. To avoid losing your music and video library, back up your files in advance of a crash.

Hi rickeybahl.
I think you missed my point. I have 1000 ripped CDs (in Windows Media/Zune) and am faced with the daunting task of havig to remap all the artwork because that seems to be the one thing that iTunes won’t import from a “foreign” collection. I do not want iTunes to refectch from their own servers because quite often their artwork and the ones I alrad yhave are not the same, or they are not in their database. The artwork consists of jpgs, – was it such a big deal for iTunes to be able to import that as well?

I did some experiments [caveat: on an old version of iTunes, so newer versions may have different behavior] and I think a scripting solution is possible. Empirically, it looks like iTunes will automatically import album artwork embedded in the ID3 tags of the MP3s. [I didn’t experiment with non-MP3 music files.] The artwork is saved at import time in the iTunes/Album Artwork folder as a .itc file, which seems to be a PNG file with some extra data prepended. After this step, the ID3-embedded images are no longer used and can be removed.

There are command-line programs which let you add and remove images from the ID3 tags in MP3s. The one I used is eyeD3, which is written in Python and so requires Python installed. You should be able to add your custom image to the MP3 file before importing it into iTunes with a command like
eyeD3 --add-image=custom-artwork.jpg:FRONT_COVER track-01.mp3

It looks like iTunes uses the first artwork it finds for the entire album (or maybe the first one labeled as FRONT_COVER). So you only need to add the image to one track per album. The add-image command will not remove existing images, so if you want to replace existing embedded artwork you probably need to remove the old artwork first.

So what I think ought to work is this:

For the first track of each album you want to add custom artwork to,
[li]back up the track’s MP3 file[/li][li]replace any existing images in the ID3 tags of the first track with your custom artwork, with a command like[/li]eyeD3 --remove-images track-01.mp3
eyeD3 --add-image=custom-artwork.jpg:FRONT_COVER track-01.mp3
[li]import the album into iTunes and let it find the album artwork[/li][li][optional]replace the new version of the track with the backed-up version [this saves space by removing the embedded copy of the images and keeps the original versions of the MP3 files, but shouldn’t have any other effect][/li][/ol]

To automate this, a script could be written to perform steps 1 and 2 for all chosen albums; then you’d just import them into iTunes all at once. (Then you could use another script to perform step 4 on all albums if desired.)