Accessing iTunes XML metadata with Python

Tutorial – iTunes XML

Article from Issue 264/2022
Author(s):

Read and manipulate data from your iTunes XML in order to share music metadata between applications and across devices.

The Extensible Markup Language (XML)[1] is a widely used markup language and text file format for storing and exchanging arbitrary data. A wide variety of applications, including the Apple iTunes application, use the XML format for exchanging or storing library data. In this article, I will show you how to use Python to read and manipulate data from an iTunes [2] XML library file.

iTunes Library File

iTunes divides its content into two separate categories: media and metadata. Media (music and video) are saved in separate files from metadata. Throughout the rest of this article, I will focus on music information – artist, song title, album title, track number, genre, release year – and refer to it as metadata. The iTunes metadata files have either a .itl or .xml extension (Figure 1).

Why Choose XML?

If you are a music lover like me, there may be times when you want to exchange music metadata between a variety of applications on a variety of digital devices. In my case, I have imported iTunes metadata into database applications to run SQL queries. Some applications use proprietary formats to get optimum performance and efficiency but limit access with proprietary products. The iTunes .itl format is an example. On the other hand, there are open formats that place more of an emphasis on wide availability and ease of development. XML is in the open format category.

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