iTunes Song, Album, Artist Data Lost on Audio CD Burn

Q: I purchased an album from the iTunes Music Store, created a playlist using iTunes and proceeded to burn an audio CD with the music that I purchased. I inserted the CD into another computer that had iTunes software installed and was able to play the CD, but to my surprise the song names, artist, and album name were not preserved. What is the reasoning for this?  Can you provide any insight on how to ensure that the song names, artist, and album title are preserved when burning music to a CD that is purchased from the iTunes Music Store?  Furthermore, should one expect any other program such as Windows Media Player to be able to extract the song names, artist, and album title from CD’s created using iTunes purchased music?

– E. Caribe

A: Regrettably, song information is not stored on standard audio CDs you burn, just as no such information is stored on commercial CDs. This is a limitation of the old audio CD format, and not iTunes. Whenever you insert a CD into your computer, iTunes connects to the Gracenote CD Database on the Internet to search for song information. It can only match the identities of complete retail CDs, and not randomly assembled collections of songs that people have assembled on their own.

The reason you see the track information in iTunes on your computer is because iTunes maintains a cache of CDs – it remembers all CDs you have inserted into your computer, for which it has found track information on the CDDB, as well as all CDs that you have burned. But when you take a CD to another computer, the CD does not carry that information along, and the other computer will have to check Gracenote – and fail.

However, if you enter that information manually in iTunes on the other computer, the program will remember the information; it will be added to iTunes CD cache, and even if you remove and re-insert the CD, this information will be displayed.

Kirk McElhearn is the author of several books including iPod & iTunes Garage. His blog, Kirkville features articles about the iPod, iTunes, Mac OS X and much more.
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