As any music nerd with a few hundred MP3s knows, each iTunes update can bring a whole new world of pain. When Apple launched Apple Music, for instance, some users found their existing tracks overwritten, stripped from their phones, or just plain disappeared. That’s the crux of “Apple’s iTunes is alienating its most music-obsessed users,” a new and interesting article from Wired that takes a look at how the company’s gradual shift toward radio, playlists, and “discovery” is alienating digital record collectors. As reporter Jesse Jarnow puts it in the story:
Most of iTunes’ latest enhancements exist solely to promote the recommendation-driven Apple Music, app downloads, and iCloud. Users interested only in iTunes’ media management features—people with terabytes of MP3s who want a solid app to catalog and organize their libraries—feel abandoned as Apple moves away from local file storage in favor of cloud-based services. These music fans (rechristened “power users” in the most recent lingo) are looking for alternatives to Apple’s market-dominating media management software, and yearn for a time when listening to music didn’t require being quite so connected.
In the piece, Jarnow examines iTunes alternatives like Swinsian, a program that looks a little like iTunes but doesn’t saddle users with DRM limitations. It’s a solid option for users who listen to music exclusively on their computers, but for anyone who wants to sync music to their iPhone, iPad, or iPod, it’s a non-starter. As the piece notes, “Because of iTunes’ dominance and the unflashy function of the software, there is perhaps little market for alternatives, especially considering the committed digital super-collectors, while sometimes vocal, make up a small percentage of the user base,” but it’s an interesting and thought-provoking investigation either way. After all, just because most of the population uses a program doesn’t always make it the best.