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, you need options. I don’t live in Silicon Valley and fail to not DJ, so I seek other alternatives.
- Volumio, below, can also do this.
- 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
- mpv is also a good video player; more stripped down than VLC.
Nuclear is an open-source streaming thingo:
There’s no need to use services that limit your freedom and seek to exploit you just to listen to your favourite artists. Nuclear empowers you to listen to what you want, where you want, and how you want, for free. Stream from any free source on the internet. Nuclear supports Youtube and Soundcloud out of the box, with a plugin system allowing for easy addition of more. Nuclear supports scrobbling to last.fm and updating the now- playing status.
- 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 is a protocol supporting distinct music playeing servers and clients. Reportedly the protocol is in a state of standards logjam but it is probably functional and has a huge, an unmaintainably riot, 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 discovery
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. Hey, at least letting the world know about that is less harmful than other data people collected about you without your consent 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.
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.
Household audio appliances
Sonos, et al, for people who find wires too complicated, and actual access to the audio to be too flexible and creative, and a heavy wallet a great burden.
Raspberry Pi-based home media system hacks, perhaps? volumio is a cheap computer-oriented player
The boss of the project, Michelangelo, is a very entertaining guy and his work deserves a shout out on that basis too.
Volumio is meant to be an headless dap (digital audio player), just connect it to your home stereo system or your DAC.
Then, connect it to your home network and control it just from a browser: Pc, Mac, Android or iOS.
Volumio can take your music from USB, Network Storage, streaming services like Spotify and act as a DLNA Player or Airplay receiver.
More satisfactory audio on portable devices
TBD; mention Overcast app for iOs.