I installed iTunes for Windows last week but didn’t really get a chance to play with it until last night. I’d love to have a Mac, but I’m stuck with a couple of PCs, so this was my first chance to use iTunes, which Mac users have been raving about (rightfully so, it seems) for years.
It did a great job of importing my existing library of MP3s, and seems to offer everything anyone would want in a music player, except the ability to help you clean up the ID3 tags on your tracks. Windows Media Player and some other product I tried out a couple of weeks ago are pretty helpful in looking up the tracks for you and getting the ID3 tags fixed. Of course, most of my MP3s are obtained these days by ripping CDs in my collection and iTunes does a fine job of looking them up at rip time.
Overall, I love iTunes. It has already taken over for Windows Media Player on my computer and I don’t expect it to relinquish its position. I also tried out the Apple Music Store, and for overall experience, I love it. It’s easy to look up songs, singers, and albums, and the ability to listen to a snippet of any song in the database is incredibly helpful.
As for selection, I was impressed. It doesn’t have everything, but it has a lot of things. I tested the breadth of the library by looking up singers from Jack Sparks’ weekly alt country top 20 list. The bar is set fairly high there because it’s a relatively obscure genre and he includes obscure singers from that genre. There were no songs from a fair number of the singers, and I don’t think the complete library of songs from any of the singers was available.
My other issue is the DRM. I posted about Apple’s DRM when the Apple Music Store was launched, but the concern there was abstract. Now that I can actually buy the songs, my concerns are more concrete. I’m very tempted to buy songs from the Apple Music Store. The idea that I can listen to a song that I want to hear right when I want to hear it, and pay only a buck for the privilege is great. The fact that you get to keep it is a bonus. To me, the immediacy is a large part of the allure involved.
In that regard, the DRM isn’t a big deal. However, I also have a music collection, and I’d expect to buy songs (and albums) to add to that collection. If they were MP3 files that were unencumbered by DRM, then I could feel pretty confident that I could keep the songs til I die and never have to worry about having a way to play them. With Apple’s DRM, I can’t be so confident. Furthermore, I’m sure that in a few years, there will be tiny cell phones with 20 gig hard drives that you can use just like you use an iPod today. Will having bought my music via the Apple Music Store keep me from taking advantage of those kinds of advances? It’s a concern.
The possible solution is to use the Apple Music Store only when immediate gratification is dictated and buying regular old CDs for everything else, but it would be great to be able to rely on the Apple Music Store for everything they have in their library. I’m just not sure I’m comfortable with that.