iTunes Not Finding iTunes Plus-Eligible Tracks?

Monday, July 30th, 2007 @ 6:27 pm | Mac

When iTunes Plus first debuted, I noticed a few tracks I’d purchased hadn’t shown up as eligible for an upgrade, even though I could find the same tracks in the iTunes Plus section of the store. At the time, I chalked the discrepancies up to the newness of iTunes Plus — I figured it was taking time for all the upgrades to be cataloged and that I’d eventually see the upgrades become available. After a while, I simply forgot about the songs.

I was poking around the iTunes Store the other day and I stumbled across one of the tracks that should’ve been upgradable. Figuring that this wasn’t simply a processing issue, I decided to write iTunes Store Support and find out what was happening.

The short version is that the files I downloaded no longer corresponded to the files sold at the iTunes Store. According to the email I received from support, modifications to files on the iTunes Store can happen at any time and “be due to pricing, content issues or editing.”

In the same email, the support representative said that this shouldn’t make any difference from the customer perspective and offered me several alternatives for upgrading my tracks, provided I supplied the tracks and order numbers for the upgradable tracks.

I did this by hand and found 20 tracks. Afterwards, I remembered that there were hints for using Spotlight to figure out roughly how many upgradable tracks you should have based on the record label. Some searching led me to jescala.com, which had a script for counting the number of upgradable tracks. The page links to a text file of all the EMI record labels. A quick glance seems like it’s in agreement with Wikipedia’s EMI label page.

I modified the script slightly to remove the word count component and and point towards my the directory with my music files (in my case, ~/Music, but YMMV). Then I used the resulting list of record labels to find the corresponding tracks, using the mdfind command.

mdfind -onlyin ~/Music "kMDItemCopyright == *<label name>* kMDItemCodecs == '*protected*'"

Using Spotlight found an additional track that I’d missed.

There’s still a chance this won’t catch all of you upgradable music. I’ve found that not all tracks contain valid copyright data. Some tracks contain “℗ ” as the copyright string. Using this as the label name (removing the ‘*’s) should give you candidates for the iTunes Plus upgrade. I also suspect that some tracks may simple leave this field blank, but every time I search for a blank string, mds crashes.

The one downside of this approach is you loose the automatic copying of track information (play count, etc). You can fix this by getting the Legitimize Song AppleScript from Doug’s AppleScripts for iTunes. Ostensibly, this script exists to copy information from downloaded MP3s to purchased AAC files, but it can be modified for our purposes.

Open the AppleScript in Script Editor. If Script Editor asks you to find Internet Explorer, select Safari (yes, the script’s that old). Don’t worry about it, that section of the script is only a warning for people using pre-4.0 versions of iTunes. Look for the following line:

if the kind of firstTrack contains "AAC" then

Change “AAC” to “Purchased” and do the same on the following else if line. The script will now copy the information from the old Protected AAC file (m4p) to the new Purchased AAC file (m4a). For each updated file, select the old and new tracks and run the script. The information will be copied and the m4p file will be moved to the trash.

Long story short, if iTunes Plus isn’t identifying certain tracks as eligible for an upgrade, here’s the reason for it. iTunes support is aware of the issue and is willing to help (or, at least the rep I dealt with was willing to help). Hopefully, this information will come in handy for anybody who finds themselves in a similar position, either now or when additional labels make their tracks available in the newer format.

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