This may seem a bit odd, that I am reviewing music library cleaning software as an author. However, for the many of us who write books, we also like to listen to music. Personally, I write my books on my bus trips to and from work, on an iPad (I know, the horror, right?), but music goes hand in hand to get me in the mood.
I happy to be a music lover with an extensive collection of songs that I have refined over the years.
Without digressing too much, allow me to share the horror story of when I tried a competitor to Tuneup Media, Rinse my music.
Now, I love the idea of set and forget. I’m busy doing many things, so having software that promises to clean up my collection, and I can be busy doing other things, definitely appealed to me. I thought, I will set this thing to a surety level of 80% and hit RINSE.
I have over 7000 songs and expected this to take quite a while. Off it went, and I let it run overnight. I woke up the next morning to see that it was done (Yay! Or so I thought), sync my iPhone, go to work, and enjoy some tunes.
Then I discovered that Rinse My Music had epic failed in some areas. I can handle that it couldn’t identify my Asian music (I have a large amount of chinese songs), but there was a critical defect in the software that was an atomic bomb to a huge amount of my album art.
What did Rinse my Music do?
It looks up an MP3, fixes the ID3 tags, and then, if it cannot locate the right album art online, it just grabs any random artwork that already exists in your collection and applies it to the MP3. You can imagine, with my epic collection that this was going to mess up a lot of my stuff. I wasn’t wrong. It also had a high rate of mis-identifying popular commercial songs and rewriting them with completely wrong song, album, etc.
But wait, there’s more! There was no undo button for any of the changes.
Rinse my Music did this to me
Are you feeling the horror?
I raised this defect with Rinse My Music about a year ago. They acknowledged it, compensated my purchase, but the damage was done. 1 year later, they have still not fixed the defect. I am not joking.
And you want to speak to the guys who made it? You can only send a ticket through RealNetworks.
After a few more updates that did nothing to fix these issues, and rinsing my music to have it epic fail again, I discovered and installed TuneUpMedia (TUM).
Wow. I will preface this by saying that the software is not perfect, but what is? I was impressed by both the software, and the excellent support and ease of contact. These guys are right up my alley. They are on social media, easy to contact, respond to their customers, and are friendly to speak with.
So, what did this software do? How did it perform?
When you switch to TuneUp Media, or are a first timer, you have to expect a few things.
1) It will require some attention and instruction from you. This is not a bad thing, as you can have it automatically update songs if you choose to.
2) You will need to be ready to work on your library a bit at a time (if you’re nuts like me with a massive library)
3) Your music files will get updated properly, with only a small number of exceptions where things may go wrong.
4) You will be impressed
I am a quality assurance professional in my day career, and I threw some real hairy stuff at this thing. Running a high end AIO computer, I threw all 7000 songs to “Clean”. Now, let me tell you, the guys at TUM will tell you NOT to do that. But what shocked me the most, was that it actually managed to go through all those songs and identify them, categorise them, and have them ready for cleaning.
I didn’t expect it to get that far. Naturally, if I tried to actually go ahead and clean, it ran out of memory. But I was doing what I shouldn’t have been able to do, so that is entirely a fault of my own. They wrote a solid bit of code to be able to handle an enormous list like that.
When you first install TUM, it will identify songs that it thinks need cleaning. Clean those first.
As my collection was pretty messed up by Rinse my Media, I went with a brutal option. I selected all of my songs in iTunes, clicked Get Info, and ticked the album art with nothing in it, and clicked ok.
This is known as an album art purge. After all of the additional artwork and fixes, I had a heap of hard drive space in use from artwork and wanted to start fresh. Working through the songs in alphabetical order, I threw in 500-1000 at a time.
Tuneup my media will put the songs into lists for you, depending on whether it matches the song, and how sure it is about it being correct. I was pretty confident with what I had seen, so I ticked to update all. One mild annoyance is that songs are flagged in red if you try to update, but the album art is unavailable. I would love to see some smarts in the software for it to have the following logic:
1) Try to update album art with 500x pixels or above first
2) Try the next, higher resolution album art. If one does not exist, then flag red.
3) Repeat steps 1-2
I am not sure where the art is being sourced from, but I can tell you that most of my collection updated beautifully. TUM actually listens to songs, and this is a huge feature, as RMM got so many of my songs wrong. I have a lot of vocal remixes, and these were picked up right. Very impressive work, TUM!
TUM also has great features of Cover Art finder (good for me to clean up some songs that it couldn’t find album art for, or partially downloaded, but that is the exception and not the rule.), deduper, and Tuniverse.
And check it out, it has an UNDO feature if something goes wrong.
I love the fact that TUM loads up next to iTunes, and can be detached/reattached. It does have a few refresh issues when used heavily, but it refreshes fine if you attach or detach it. Hopefully they smoothen that out in updates.
This is nothing compared to the headache of Rinse My Music loading with iTunes, and not letting you maximise iTunes at all. Then you click to remove the toolbar, and it still loads every time. That frustration, my friends, is a whole new league of annoying.
Since I uninstalled RMM, and installed TUM, I have felt so much better opening up my iTunes.
Tuneup in Action!
Tuniverse is interesting, but I don’t use it a lot. Mostly as I listen to most of my music on iOS devices, but it is pretty cool to bring up lyrics to songs and artist info.
TUM made sorting out my music enjoyable again, and I no longer get stressed out when I am flicking through songs on my iPhone or iPad. I use a player called Track8, which is like a Windows 8 interface to a music player, and since TUM cleaned up my songs, it looks really slick.
If you want your tunes to have art, look right, then there is no comparison to TuneUp Media. This software is near perfect, and I rarely ever use software that is. I know the guys will find this review, and when they do, they will already look into the small things I touched on here, because that is just the kind of developers they are.
TuneUpMedia: Your software rocks! And your attitude is winning.
EDIT: This review was written based on v2.4 of TuneUp Media, which I shall now refer to as “The Golden Age”. Since v3 was released, everything has gone downhill. I found TuneUpMedia to be completely unusable. This was literally the biggest shock to me, as I was on the BETA test team and had reported the major issues before it was released. It was so bad, that I had to completely uninstall it, as I have a huge collection of music and it brought itunes to its knees on load. This is a huge shame, as I LOVED v2.4 and still do, but there is no ability to roll back to the previous version. I’ve found myself re-installing Rinse My Music until this is sorted out.
My Score: 4.8/5 – Excellent