iTunes Metadata Lost!

Doh. I just fired up iTunes, and my tunes were gone. The tracks are still all on my hard drive, but the playlists and songs in iTunes are missing in action. I’ve been using iTunes since before it was iTunes (I was a registered owner of SoundJam MP, which was purchased from Casady & Greene by Apple to become iTunes 1.0). This is the first time I’ve lost data in any of my SoundJam/iTunes libraries, in something like 8 years (roughly 8 major OS updates, over several computers).

Re-added all of my tracks to iTunes (dragging the folders into the iTunes Library), and it sees the music again, but my carefully hand-entered and automatic metadata is gone. My Rating. Gone. Playlists. Gone. Play Count. Gone. Last Played. Gone. My “Pick the top rated songs that have been played a whole bunch in the last month, and give me a playlist that will fill an audio CD with them” playlist. Gone.

Now, assuming I recreate all of my dynamic playlists, which used this metadata to do their magic, I still have to manually re-enter a whole bunch of metadata (especially Ratings) for them to be useful. Crap.

I’ve never been a big fan of metadata – it needs to be hidden and under-the-hood for it to be effective. But, things sure get messed up when it’s yanked out from underneath you.

My copy of iTunes now functions at about the level of WinAmp. It’s had a pretty serious lobotomy, and will take some time to relearn what I like etc…

8 replies on “iTunes Metadata Lost!”

  1. Doh indeed! I’m interested if you find a solution. I ripped lots of CDs in \artist\album\track#_trackname and then tried to import them into iTunes having switched from Musicmatch and things went horribly wrong. The automatic iTunes Lookup doesn’t allow me to re-lookup my albums, and I’d really like to recreate my library file from scratch.

    If you have any ideas I’m all ears…

    Best, Tom

  2. Sadly, I didn’t find a solution. I just sucked it up and started over. The albums and track names etc. were retained, because they were stored in the mp3 ID3 tags. But the extra stuff (ratings, play count…) were lost because they were in the pooched iTunes database…

    The iTunes lookup works only on the physical audio cd, and uses GraceNote to do the lookup. Is there any way to have MusicMatch make sure the metadata is stored in the mp3 file’s ID3 tags? iTunes would pick it up ok from there…

  3. Doh indeed! I’m interested if you find a solution. I ripped lots of CDs in \artist\album\track#_trackname and then tried to import them into iTunes having switched from Musicmatch and things went horribly wrong. The automatic iTunes Lookup doesn’t allow me to re-lookup my albums, and I’d really like to recreate my library file from scratch.

    If you have any ideas I’m all ears…

    Best, Tom

  4. This happend to me more than once. I got sick of it and wrote a little batch script to backup the data (I know, I should back everything up). See my blog entry

  5. Yikes, that’s a shame.

    The non-ID3 metadata for your entire library is stored in one XML file, by default ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music Library.xml. If you’ve got a back-up of that, yay!

    If not, back-up from now on 🙂

  6. I was moving my library to an external drive, I thought I took the necessary precautions by saving the .xml file but I still cannot get the data to load 🙁 if anyone one has suggestions I would be glad to hear them.

  7. Same thing happened to me. Luckily, I backed up my iTunes Music Library.xml file. I was horrified at first, but now my iTunes is back to normal!!! I was so upset initially, losing all my ratings and play counts. Phew! I feel for you man!

  8. I used a third-party software to restore my iTunes library from my iPod to my external hard drive.
    Here is my dilemma. I have lots of videos with lengthy, descriptive names. Now that I am going to move my external hard drive to a different computer I am curious to know if these names will carry over when imported to a new iTunes.

    For example, in iTunes I have a video clip titled, “CBC 26 Control and Counter Backups and Adv concepts”. When I look at the actual mp4 file on my hard drive it only has “CBC 26 Control and Counter Backups.” It is missing 14 more characters.

    It is like this for hundreds of files on my hard drive that do not have the full name as shown in the iTunes movie library. I understand a little bit about “metadata”. Is there somewhere that the FULL name I have written in iTunes’ library is stored in the mp4 file? What should I expect when I move my hard drive and import all my movie clips?

    If anyone can tip me off, please do. Much appreciation, Rob

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