Hate iTunes? I do. It syncs to my phone, good. It integrates well into the OS. There endeth the advantages. Whilst it was cutting edge when I first started using it more than 15 years ago, iTunes has stagnated in features and forged ahead with annoyances even as is slides backwards on performance. It also tries to constantly sell me shitty pop songs and is generally an eyesore.
Moreover, it is increasingly based on streaming music from the cloud which is nice if you live in Silicon Valley and don’t DJ. Otherwise, no. I don’t live in Silicon Valley and fail to not DJ, so I seek other alternatives.
- Swinsian (USD20) is a simple music player that tries to preserve the good bits of itunes and not the rest. Consequently, it is a tiny fraction of the size of iTunes
- VLC is the universal media player that does OK at music
- beets, the extensible open-source media manager claims to do music playing now, via the browser
- quod libet is a converse of beets; it’s GUI- first but has a sideline in metadata management and extensibility.
- MPD abstracts away iTunes entirely and has its own clients. Reportedly the protocol is in a state of developmental logjam (see standards) but it is probably functional and has a huge, an unmaintainably huge, mass of clients. It is intrinsically networked so you can do cute things like having a collective iphone party dj app, although that only sounds like a good idea the first time.
- foobar2000 is a cult windows player. Do I care about it? not enough to bother at the moment.
- cassette tapes
Music listening tracking
Slightly obsessive completist personality? Don’t worry, it afflicts many nerds. How about you channel that twitchy compulsion into something productive, analysing your music collection so that you can be a better DJ, which is the most socially acceptable type of completist obsessiveness there is?
So anyway, my preferred service in the quantifed-self race is last.fm.  This catalogues your music listening history and puts it online, often with cute graphs. Unfortunately, development has languished for years, and the client is shitty, enormous, slow, crashes a lot, and fills your syslog up with weird errors. I already have iTunes to do that.
|||Hey, at least letting the world know about that is less harmful than much other data people collect about you without your consent.|
If you’re on linux or windows, the alternatives are obvious.
Alternatives to the last.fm client for Mac:
- mxcl’s dashboard scrobbler. (Max Howell is a genius of minimalism, please send him free money.)
Overengineered household audio appliances
Sonos, et al, for people who find wires too complicated.
Raspberry-based home media system hacks, perhaps?
More satisfactory audio on portable devices
TBD; mention Overcast app for iOs.