I’m just going to go ahead and say it: I’ve never used iTunes.
That’s not out of some sense of being hipper-than-the-hipper-than-thous, but…well, I dunno, I’ve never seen the point. I’ve used Windows Media Player since I started using a PC in 7th grade mostly because it works; big, clearly labeled buttons, clear library organization, user-friendly interface, doesn’t crash, rips MP3s…it does what I ask, and that’s all I need. The fact that I’ve never had an Apple computer, iPod, iPhone,
iTampaxiPad, or any Apple product to suck me into the iWeb probably helps. So let’s do this.
Ok, so on iTunes’ main site and there’s a little blue “Download iTunes” bar in the corner. Alright, easy enough, let’s click and download. Also, does Apple believe in any color that isn’t Soul Crushing White, Office PowerPoint Gray #2, and black?
Ok, let’s get to the mus–wait, what? Oh, ok, upload my library. Sure.
[five minutes later]
Still loading? Well…that’s fair. Guess I have a lot of music. Hey, look, wet paint on a wall.
Man, that is a good looking wall. Ok, we’re all loaded and primed to go! Well, I guess I’ll check the s–
[“Genius: gathering information about your library”]
[“Genius: sending your information to Apple”]
[“Genius: delivering your Genius results”]
…what the hell was that? I just want to listen to some Radiohead, not let Steve Jobs know that I have every Smashing Pumpkins album. Well, great, I guess Big Brother had to start somewhere…
Playing the Music (aka: Music Library)
Well, the music plays, that’s comforting. Playing with the view menu gives you a few redundant ways to see your music depending on if you like seeing album covers, but I can’t knock that at all. Looks like everything has a shortcut button, which reinforces something I think about Apple: Their means and methods don’t make a lick of sense until you totally immerse yourself in the iLife. And if that’s what you want, then sure, I won’t stop you.
Features: Probably what iTunes prides itself on. Lessie what we’ve got…
Ping: It’s like Twitter but with less comedy potential and more artists hawking their/other artists’ music. Meh.
Genius: Ok, so this makes a little “sounds the same” playlist within your library. I feel like there’s a comment in there about having your computer tell you what you like within your own music, but hey, whatever does it for you. I played around with this for awhile, and the playlists consistently fell in “Close enough” territory. But the Genius Recommendations in the sidebar are pretty on-target.
The Store: The pride and joy of iTunes, the online store. The first successful online music distribution system (now, as they keep telling me, with The Beatles!). The iTunes store is pretty damn expansive, and has gobs of information for anything. Reviews, the ever present “You might also like” section, iTunes created playlists…they certainly did their research. The downside is the pricing. On an album-size scale, it’s pretty fair, but on a song by song level…I can’t see paying $1.29 for the hot new single.
Burning: How the hell do I burn a CD with this? People say that iTunes is super user friendly, and as I tinker with it more and more, it is, but what gives here? I’m used to a great big button on the screen that says “burn”. Oh, wait. I’ve been informed that I have to click a little plus sign on the screen, make a playlist, and then choose to burn that playlist. Make sense in that “I need to pee, so if I build a house, I’ll have a bathroom” sort of roundabout thinking way.
Sync: Not having an iPod, I can’t say much about the sync with iTunes. And thanks to my friend Rob (appreciate it, buddy), I now know that the syncing process isn’t as one way as I had been led to assume from friends’ comments. From what he says, the process is fairly open ended…but your iPod can only sync with one computer at a time. Mixed bag, I guess.
Final Conclusion: Maybe iTunes isn’t the sign of the devil like I always joke it is, but…still, there’s something about it I just don’t like. The store is expansive, it gives you nothing but recommendations, and all the information you want, but somehow it doesn’t feel quite right. If you love iTunes, then more power to you, I’m happy for you. It’s an innovative system that fulfilled a need, and I admire how much it’s done for people and new music.
I think what it gets to is that I like putting people to music; it’s a communal experience. Chatting with store clerks while buying records, watching a friend play an original song on YouTube, reading an artist’s blog, getting an indie label’s newsletter in my email…those are all fun elements that end up leading me to new artists and the people within music. I just don’t see those people when I look at iTunes.