What to Do When iTunes Doesn't Have Song Names for Your Music

Name those tunes already

Digital music files aren't the only things added to iTunes when you import a CD. You also get the names of the songs, artists, and album for each MP3 or AAC you add. Sometimes, though, you rip a CD in iTunes and find that you've just got "Track 1" and "Track 2" on an unnamed album by the ever-popular "Unknown Artist" (I prefer their earlier work, personally). Sometimes you even just get a blank space where the artist or album name should be.

If you've ever seen this happen, you may wonder what causes iTunes not to have song names and how to fix it. This article has the answer to both questions.

How iTunes Identifies CDs and Songs

The names of songs and albums aren't encoded into CDs. All of that information actually lives on the Internet.

When you rip a CD, iTunes uses a service called GraceNote (formerly known as the CDDB, or the Compact Disc Data Base) to identify the CD and add the names of songs, artists, and albums for each track. GraceNote is a massive database of album information that can tell one CD from another using data that's unique to every CD but hidden from users. When you insert a CD into your computer, iTunes sends the data about the CD to GraceNote. GraceNote then supplies the information about the songs on that CD to iTunes.

Why Songs in iTunes Are Sometimes Missing Information

When you don't get any song or album names in iTunes, that's because GraceNote hasn't sent any information to iTunes. This can happen for a few reasons:

  • The CD is from a very small record label, is obscure, or is self-released. Albums like that may not be included in GraceNote’s database.
  • You’re importing a mix CD that didn’t have this information included on it when it was created.
  • Your computer isn’t connected to the internet when you rip the CD into iTunes. You need a web connection for iTunes to communicate with GraceNote and send the track information to you.

How to Get CD Information from GraceNote in iTunes

A screenshot of getting song names in iTunes

If you’re not getting any song, artist, or album information when you insert a CD, don't import the CD into iTunes yet. Check your internet connection. If it's not working, re-establish the connection, insert the CD again, and see if you have song info. If you do, proceed with ripping the CD.

If you've already imported the CD but are missing all of its information, you may still be able to get it from GraceNote. To do that:

  1. Make sure you're connected to the internet.

  2. Open iTunes, if it's not already running.

  3. Single click the songs you want to get information for.

  4. Click the File menu.

  5. Click Library.

  6. Click Get Track Names.

  7. At this point, iTunes will contact GraceNote. If it can match the song, it automatically adds whatever information it has. If it can't definitely match the song, a pop-up window may offer a set of choices. Select the correct one and click OK.

If the CD is still in your computer, you can also click the Options menu in the top right corner of the CD import screen and then click Get Track Names.

How to Add Your Own CD Information in iTunes

If the CD isn't listed in GraceNote, you’ll need to add the information to iTunes manually. As long as you know those details, this is pretty easy. Learn how in this tutorial on editing iTunes song info.

How to Add CD Information to GraceNote

You can help GraceNote improve its information and help other people avoid this problem by submitting CD information. If you've got music that GraceNote couldn't recognize, you can submit info by following these steps:

  1. Make sure your computer is connected to the internet.

  2. Insert the CD into your computer.

  3. Launch iTunes.

  4. Click the CD icon in the top left corner to go to the CD import screen.

    While the CD is inserted into your drive and is showing up in iTunes, DO NOT import the CD into iTunes yet.

  5. Edit all of the song, artist, and album information for the CD you want to submit using the steps in the article linked to in the last section.

  6. Click the Options icon.

  7. Click Submit CD Track Names in the drop down.

  8. Then iTunes will send the information you've added about this song to GraceNote for inclusion in its database.

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