CD-TEXT And iTunes

So why do my song titles not show in iTunes, when I know that my CD was encoded with CD-TEXT during mastering?

This is a fairly common issue, as there is quite a lot of confusion regarding how iTunes, Windows Media Player and various other hardware and software based media players source CD track information for displaying song titles etc. This article is designed to help you understand these issues and fix the problem!

CD-TEXT and on-line CD databases

Generally, there are two primary sources of CD track information utilized by both stand alone, and computer based media players: CD-text and online media databases. Many popular computer applications do not support CD-TEXT information! The most notable being iTunes and Windows Media Player – these both use a different method to get the CD track/ title information – online databases.

CD-TEXT is an extension of the Red Book specification standard for audio CDs that was created in the early 1980’s to allow information such as artist name, album title and track names etc to be written into the subcode of an audio CD. Since it’s release in 1996, CD-TEXT has been adopted slowly and support by many CD players, especially CD-ROM drives has been inconsistent. Most modern car players and many multi-disc machines now support CD-TEXT (including domestic DVD players). 

Aside from iTunes and Windows Media Player, many computer-based media players, such as later versions of WinAmp, Realplayer, EAC, Nero and others now support CD-TEXT as long as the CD-ROM drive in the computer also supports CD-TEXT.

On-line databases

Online databases are used to store CD information along with other metadata including album artwork, song titles, lyrics etc and to provide this data to any device that has access via an internet connection. 

The original online database CDDB contained CD profiles that could be stored on your computer or accessed via the internet. Each CD profile was created by a fingerprinting process involving calculations on track start times, track duration and total length information stored in the table of contents of the CD. When a CD is put into a machine using iTunes, it automatically accesses the database to look for the information relevant to that disc. If no record for the CD is found, a new profile can be created and uploaded to the database. Nowadays CDDB is know as Gracenote (as used by iTunes). There are many other databases available as well, most notable being AMG (Macrovision), Muze, freedb and MusicBrainz. Although the CD identification processes used by these databases may differ from the original CDDB process, the concept is the same and it is worth noting that duplicate, erroneous and multiple entries can occur with some systems (especially in systems that report user-submitted data such as Gracenote & freedb).

How to upload your CD information to on-line databases

Assuming that your master has been correctly encoded with CD-TEXT information, the next step is to deal with the online databases. Unfortunately every database has a different submission procedure but below is a list based on the two players in question:

iTunes – insert your CD, click on the first track and select ‘file’, then ‘get info’ and enter the track information. When you have entered all of the track information go to ‘advanced’, ‘submit CD track names’, fill in the requested information and hit [OK].   

Windows Media Player – Send a copy of your CD directly to AMG below:

Product Submissions:

All Media Guide1
168 Oak Valley Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48108

AMG takes care of the rest and your information is normally live in approx 4-6 weeks! 

There are many players that reference the freedb database. Visit the website to see a list of supported players you can use to submit CD information (see link below). Popular applications are Exact Audio Copy and Nero.

Useful links:

AMG (now Macrovision)

more from our portfolio