iTunes Music Store API?

I can’t explain why, at least not yet, but I’m looking for a way to search the iTunes Music Store catalog outside of iTunes. Rumors of an iTunes-Google partnership have been flying lately, but what I really want is a webservice/API I can use. Yes, Apple offers an affiliate program that supports direct links, but again, they don’t offer an Amazon-style API to search their catalog.

All of this has me thinking about reverse-engineering the iTMS to build the webservice I’m looking for. DVD Jon made news not so long ago with PyMusique, now rewritten as SharpMusique, but even before that, Jason Rohrer released iTMS-4-all.

Rohrer’s work is more in line with what I’m trying to do, so I’m exploring that concept a little. iTMS-4-all is a simple web browsing interface to the store. Jean-Yves Stervinou explains:

iTunes 4 is a beautiful example of a “specialized browser”. It uses html to render pages with texts and pictures, but it also uses macosX standard GUI elements when appropriate. When you browse the albums/artists, iTunes in fact gets the contents of these lists from a Web server out there at Apple (phobos is its nickname). The format for these lists is XML […]. iTunes reads this XML list then uses a standard list browser to show you the content.

Stervinou describes the entire iTunes store as a REST webservice, but one which Apple has chosen to keep private. Rohrer describes the problems of interacting with the ITMS encrypted content. He (and contributors) were successful, but Apple changed the encryption after iTunes 4.7 was released. It didn’t take long for DVD Jon to get around the change, but it (or something else, I haven’t looked yet) has disabled iTMS-4-all. Too bad, too, because there’s a lot we might be able to do with such a webservice. contemplates some of these uses in their iTMS-4-all announcement (Jason Rohrer is somehow involved with Downhill Battle).

More reading: Free Software Magazine did some poking at iTunes, The g4tv Screensavers crew looks into iTunes Hackery, Apple does offer a very limited iTunes RSS feed generator, XMLHead looks at the structure of iTunes affiliate links, and (update) here’s some talk about the iTMS XML interface before they started encrypting it.

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13 thoughts on “iTunes Music Store API?

  1. As a stop-gap measure until Apple gets back to its senses, you can do what I did: Write a script that connects to the the itunes link maker (
    and supplies the appropriate arguments. The link structure is very simple.

    Not exactly an API, but it does the job. I actually glued it together with Anazon Web Services, allowing people to select favorite albums for their member pages on my site. It works very well, with about 95% of the amazon selected albums matching up with an iTunes playlist. Pretty sweet!

  2. Could you please tell me how can i refresh the song list in iTunes’s libarary whenever i change the content of the folder that storing the songs (mp3 for example) in the list …

  3. You can close itunes and re-open it. Same ting happens to me if I disconnect my external harddrive that has all my music on it.

    I just close itunes, make sure the external is connected and open iTunes again.

  4. My daughter bought some tunes from your company back in june using my credit card, we cancelled the account but yet you have charged my card
    $1.99 for some reason and now I have a charge for $39.47 when we hven’t used this account since then. Email me how I can see the account, It will be under the name K’Lee Hamilton

  5. Pingback: Jenny & Adam’s Blog » New iPods, Apple takes a step backwards

  6. Joseph>

    Do you have the code anywhere to parse the search results? I’m actually looking to have individual songs linked to the appropriate iTunes song for download. Want to automate the Affiliate Program process.

    I still can’t believe there isn’t an API for this.

    Apple, get your head out of your asses! This would be a GREAT addition for you guys!

  7. I developed a script that accesses the iTunes Music Store and pulls album information through a web browser. Putting it together with some AJAX, I developed cloudTunes ( Check it out; I think it is the sort of thing you’re talking about.

    cloudTunes simply requests the same information as iTunes software but parses it and displays it as HTML.

    Apple should definitely develop an open API or webservice for the iTMS, I can’t see how it wouldn’t be to their advantage.

  8. i m getting exception on this …..
    SearchDesktopClass msnDS = new SearchDesktopClass();

    Retrieving the COM class factory for component with CLSID {1AD68C99-00FB-416D-804B-C38DEE75D55E} failed due to the following error: 80040154.

    Plz help me out


  9. Pingback: » iTunes 9: Closer To An API?

  10. I think you will find a lot of the information you are looking for in my recently published book, currently the only one about the iTunes Affiliate Program or the iTunes API.

    Check it out at

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