Moving music and playlists from iTunes to DJ Software

iTunes To DJ Software

Moving music and playlists from iTunes to DJ Software

With the news that Apple will be killing off iTunes in the next Mac OS update, a lot of DJ’s are fearing the loss of integration support with leading DJ softwares. Serato, Rekordbox, Traktor, DJay and Virtual DJ all currently support showing and playing from the iTunes library.

It’s this cross platform support that drew many DJ’s onto iTunes in the first place but with it’s death rapidly approaching how do you move your music and playlists out of iTunes and into your DJ softwares native library management?

Today we break down two methods to get your music out of iTunes.


The Problem with iTunes Music Management

The way iTunes manages the music files it plays is quite unique when compared to other music management software. By default iTunes is instructed to create a copy of any file you play on the software and it places this copy within the Media folder on the users hard drive. Within this Media folder iTunes creates individual folders for each artist. Within that artist folder is album folders and finally within the album is a copy of the track.

HD/Users/UserName/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media – The usual file path for the iTunes media folder.

itunes preferences

As you can see the default setting is to copy media into the iTunes folder. We need to uncheck this setting to stop iTunes creating duplicate files.

The problem with this is that some people aren’t aware that iTunes is making a copy and therefore don’t delete the original download. This means on some DJ’s hard drive there are actually 2 copies of tracks. One in the iTunes media folder and one in the original download location (such as a downloads folder). This not only eats up precious memory space on the hard drive but it can create confusing creating duplicates in DJ software when the hard drive is searched for music. To turn this copying feature off, head into the iTunes preferences, advanced and turn off “Copy files to iTunes media folder when adding to library”.

Method One – Playlist Based Music Storage

If you would like to manage the music on your hard drive with folders that follow the same structure of your playlists. This method will work best for you. Future downloads can then be dragged into these folders before you add them to your DJ software which will save us time over the second method.

It’s worth noting after iTunes has stopped being used you don’t have to move the files out of your downloads folder. It’s completely up to you if you want to keep your folders tidy or not.

Please note any music that’s stored inside iTunes but NOT in a playlist will not show in your DJ software with this method! Make sure all music is inside a playlist before deleting any iTunes folder on the hard drive when following this method!

Step 1 – Creating Folders that match current Playlists

We first need to create folders on our hard drive that mirror the names of our current playlists. Personally I would create these folders within your music folder on your hard drive but you can put them where ever suits you best.

Creating Playlist Folders
You can see here that we have created a folder on our hard drive for each playlist in iTunes.

Step Two – Moving Music From Playlists To New Folders

Once we have a folder for each playlist, we can start moving music. First go into one of the folders that you have created, open it and then leave the window open. We will need this open so we can drag our tracks into it. Then head into iTunes, click on the matching playlist to this folder and select a song.

Once one track is highlighted, press CMD+A (mac) or CNTRL+A (windows) which will highlight every track in the playlist. Once all tracks are highlighted, drag them into the folder we opened earlier. You should see all the tracks from within the playlist now be showing inside the folder. Repeat this step for every playlist!

Dragging tracks into folder
Drag the entire playlist into the matching folder.

Step Three – Creating Playlists in DJ Software From Folders.

At this stage we should have every playlist from within iTunes as a folder full of music on the hard drive. Now it’s time to mirror these in our DJ software. The process is very simple and almost identical in both Serato and Rekordbox.

Rekordbox – Open your music folder that contains the folders we have created. Now select a folder and drag it over Rekordbox Playlists. Once “playlists” highlights blue, drop the folder. This will instantly create a playlist with the matching name and import all the tracks.

Adding playlists in Rekordbox
Drag your new folders into Playlists on Rekorbox to create identical playlists to those that were once in iTunes

Serato – The process is very much the same but Serato uses “crates” rather than Playlists. Simply drag the folder onto the Crates area of Serato. Be sure to drop it whilst the outer box highlights blue and don’t accidentally add the folder to another crate!

Serato Crate
Be careful to drop the folder onto the outer crates area (highlighted in blue) and not into another crate as this is an easy mistake to make!

Step Four – Life After iTunes

Congratulations, your playlists are now all converted successfully from iTunes into your DJ software. You can now go ahead and turn off iTunes integration in your software. In Serato you do this by heading to preferences, library and display and then untick “Show iTunes Library”.

Rekordbox is very similar. Head into preferences, under view scroll down to layout and untick untick iTunes. When downloading music in the future you will need to drag it into a folder on the hard drive and then a playlist created in the software. You can go ahead and delete the music inside iTunes media folder if you are 100% confident everything you need is moved over successfully.

We always recommend taking a back up of this folder before permanently deleting anything as precaution!

Method Two – Keeping the iTunes Media Structure

If your music is all inside the iTunes media folder and you wish to keep the organised nature of its Artist>Album>Track folder structure this method is for you. Not only will we preserve your playlists but we will also keep the iTunes Media folder layout too. Note however any future music will need to be manually added into the folder to keep your storage neat, iTunes will no longer be used to keep things tidy for you!

This means creating new artist and album folders if you want to keep the same structure. Once again, its worth remembering after iTunes has stopped being used you don’t have to move the files out of your downloads folder, it’s completely up to you if you want to keep your folders tidy or not.

Step One – Create Matching Playlists/Crates to iTunes Playlists

We first need to create playlists (Rekordbox) or Crates (Serato) that have the same name as our iTunes playlists. In Rekordbox you can create a playlist by right clicking on the playlists tab. In Serato press the new crate button which is located at the top left of the library view.

Creating Playlists
Here we can see where to create a new playlist or crate in both Rekordbox and Serato

Step Two – Copy music into the new Playlists/Crates

Now we have identical playlists and crates in our software we need to load them with tracks. This is really simple, from within the DJ software click on the iTunes playlist and highlight all the tracks within. Then drag them into the playlist or crate inside the DJ software. Do this for every playlist in your iTunes library.

Dragging tracks in Rekordbox
Here we are dragging tracks from iTunes playlist to the Rekordbox playlist.

Step Three – Moving the iTunes folder

Now we have successfully created matching playlists to those in iTunes, it’s time to move the media folder from within iTunes. By doing this we will keep the neat organised nature of the Artist>Album>Track layout and all the media within our iTunes library.

The reason for moving the folder is so we are away from using iTunes, it’s not yet known what will happen to the iTunes media when the application is killed off in the future update. Navigate to the iTunes Media folder and rename it, we recommend calling it “Artists A-Z” as this is what it contains but it’s up to you. Once renamed, move the folder to a location of your choice, again we recommend your music folder.

Step Four – Relocate Missing Files

Now we have moved the iTunes media folder we can turn off iTunes showing in our DJ software. In Serato you do this by heading to preferences, library and display and then untick “Show iTunes Library”. Rekordbox is very similar, head into preferences, under view scroll down to layout and untick untick iTunes.

Our DJ software will still be showing the playlists and the tracks however they won’t play as the files have been moved. We need to relocate these files, this is a simple process thankfully due to some handy inbuilt relocation tools.

How to Relocate Files In Serato

To relocate the moved files in Serato we first need to open the Files Browser. Once opened navigate through to find your recently renamed and relocated media folder. Drag this folder onto the “Relocate Missing Files” button. Once complete our playlists will return to working perfectly.

Relocating Files Serato
Drag the folder containing the old iTunes media library onto the Relocate Files button to repair the playlists.

How to relocate files in Rekordbox

In Rekordbox you can bring up the relocation tool by clicking “Display all missing files” under File in the top left hand corner. Rekordbox will then show all missing files, this will be the tracks from our recently moved iTunes folder. Press relocate in the lower left corner, this will open a finder window and Rekordbox will be asking to locate a particular track.

Navigate to that track in the new folder location and select it. Once you have successfully done this Rekordbox will ask if you wish to use the same path for other files. Click yes and Rekordbox will relocate the rest of the tracks for you.

Relocate Rekordbox
Rekordbox relocating missing files, note you only have to do this once as Rekordbox will use the same file path for the rest of the files.

Step Five – Life after iTunes

We have successfully moved all our iTunes library away from iTunes and kept our playlists by recreating them in the DJ software. If you wished to, you could import the complete media folder into your DJ software to display every song within your library (not just the ones in your playlists).

When downloading music you will need to import them into your DJ library and where you chose to save these files is up to you. You could create new folders for artists and albums such to keep in fitting with the old iTunes system but this might become time consuming. Alternatively you may wish to leave them in a downloads folder.

Video Tutorial


Join The Discussion

  1. syyan9102

    iTunes music can be saved in music players or DJ software like Virtual DJ. I like to use the DRmare iTunes Music Converter Mac to download the songs on my computer. Then I transfer them to my DJ software. The songs can be streamed offline and the quality is high.

    • Holland

      With any ripping of music it damages the quality and is also illegal. We recommend you source your music from a reputable DJ pool such as BPM Supreme or DJCity for the best music to DJ with.

  2. MixMasterG

    I advocate using iTunes (now as an integral collection manager. Not because it’s a great collection manager but simply because it can be accessed from all current DJ software. And it’s AppleScripteable.

    Having said that ther are some things I would like to correct about the article. Using iTunes to manage the storage location of your media files is begging for troubles. It comes down to if you change metadata in iTunes (album/artist/title) the file path of the track’s media file will change. Causing all kinds of side effects like cues/loops disappearing. I explain in this video why

    There is no death of iTunes, it’s replaced by the app named in MacOS Catalina. All DJ software is fine with at the moment, in the future they will most likely require an update to access iTunes playlists/folders.
    see also these posts about the subject.

    I show how to create the iTunes Music Library.XML from Catalina’s here:


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