Written by Internet, Music, Technology

What Do I Do With My Music?

I’m facing a dilemma. I’m wondering whether I should ditch Apple for my music needs…
Here’s where I am, as Duncan Bannatyne might say:

  • I use iTunes to manage my music and audio. I have over 160GB of music/audio. Partly because I have a “reasonable” amount of music; partly because I rip that music at high quality from CD; partly because I save a lot of radio; and partly because I listen to audiobooks (again at high quality).
  • I have an iPod Classic, and it’s full. To get around this, I ensure that only the audiobooks that I need at any time are uploaded to it. And not every podcast makes the cut (Even then, I only have the most recent three on the device, but whole series of things like In Our Time exist in my library). But when all is said and done, my iPod is teetering – close to full.
  • I have four large boxes of CDs I have yet to rip. I won’t pretend that this is my most listened to music. It’s sitting in boxes after all. There are partworks that I once collected (Jazz Greats anyone?), or BBC Music Magazine cover CDs that I’ve collected. But at the very least I want to digitise them.

So what should I do?
Well carry on digitising for starters. But I have some issues with my current Apple solution:
Pros

  • iTunes is all-encompassing. It handles podcasts satisfactorily. I like Genius and its playlist functionality.
  • I use an Airport Express to play iTunes audio through my main stereo. It works well. I could use an Apple TV if I wanted to spend £99.
  • I use an old iPod Touch (2nd generation?) as a remote control. It all hooks together beautifully.
  • It works with Audible.
  • Third party NAS drives – like the one I have – offer iTunes Server.

Cons

  • iTunes is awful. It’s long overdue a root and branch rewrite from the ground up. It’s clunky. It’s unintuitive unless you know it intimately and are prepared to Google for hours. It’s sluggish on moderately powered PCs (yes – I’m using the PC version). But I will concede that you can get what you want done on it, even if it’s often unnecessarily complicated.
  • I’m concerned about the future of the iPod Classic. I’m not interested in an iPhone, or upgrading my iPod Touch. In any case the price of flash memory means that getting upwards of 160GB on one of these devices is still impossible, and would be frighteningly expensive even if Apple sold one. At time of writing, 64GB is the largest capacity iPod Touch available, but it costs 45% more than the much larger capacity Classic. And the Classic has not been updated in the last 18 months. It was not mentioned at all last September, and because it’s not touchy-shiny, you worry that it’s an unloved product at Apple. All you can really do with it is listen to music (even video watching isn’t much fun on that size screen).

The cloud locker services are coming. Amazon has launched in the US, and Google is rumoured to be launching any day now with its version. They’re both effectively hard-disks in the sky. Because record companies have yet to play ball (or at least agree on the “ball” rules), Google and Amazon are having to maintain multiple versions of the same tracks for each user. In the longer term, offering 50GB space really only works if the Lady Gaga track I’ve uploaded to my service is identical to the one being “uploaded” by thousands of other users. We can all share the same file.
At the moment, there’s nothing to really replace Apple that’s satisfactory. The cloud lockers are appealing, but not really fit for purpose right now (although we’ve yet to see details of Google’s offering). And uploading 200GB+ to one of the services is not appealing over ADSL.
So I’ll continue to use Apple for the forseeable future.
But if a new, larger iPod Classic is not forthcoming, I might have to fundamentally rethink my music future. There are other ways to get audio from my NAS to my hi-fi. My BluRay has an Android app to control it, so my aging iPod Touch could yet be consigned to dust.
We live in interesting times, to quote someone…