Richard Jones' Log: iTunes - what can I replace it with?

Thu, 21 Sep 2006

Two people I know have now been burnt by iTunes / iPods and their policy of restricting access to data they own. In both cases, they've suffered a disk failure and have been unable to get their songs back off the iPod. They were both under the mistaken impression that their iPod was effectively a backup of their song library. A reasonable position to take, I would've thought. My MP3 player can be treated as such a device - why can't an iPod? But they can't copy their music back off the iPod into iTunes.

More recently I've suffered an annoyance at the hands of iTunes. It turns out that when you edit song meta-data iTunes doesn't edit the ID3 tags in the actual MP3 files. When I copy the MP3 files to my other computers and devices, the songs have none of the track/album information that I entered for them. These are freely-available tracks, by the way. I'm not breaking any copyright in copying them around.

So, what can I replace iTunes with on OSX? Something that supports Ogg files out of the box would be nice too. If only Amarok worked...

Comment by Andy Todd on Thu, 21 Sep 2006

Free as in beer, but not speech, Audion 3 is quite a nice MP3 player that's Mac native.

I nearly got burnt by a hard disk failure on my iBook but there are utilities that enable you to get at the Music directory on your iPod. I used iLinkPod to recover my music from my iPod to my new Powerbook.

Losing the metadata is a complete pain though, if only Apple would use the ID3 tags like sensible people do.

Comment by toby on Fri, 22 Sep 2006

I hope one of those people wasn't me. I have issues with iPods, but when mine died I didn't lose any data. You can also copy music back off an iPod with any number of programs. The one I've used is called senuti.

I've actually had some good mileage out of amarok, so I'd suggest you try it out again. Pretty much anything else on linux sucks. Quod Libet is ok, and is written in python, but is slow beyond belief with a large music database.

Thanks for the heads up about the iTunes metadata though. I didn't know that. It would be pretty trivial to take an exported iTunes library in XML (or even directly access their binary database) and stick it back into the ID3 tags. Does it do the same for AAC files? I can understand why they might not want to mess with ID3 tags. ID3v1 is stupid and useless. ID3v2 is so flexible that no one seems to use it consistently for anything more complex than artist/title/album/genre.

Comment by Richard Jones on Fri, 22 Sep 2006

Oh, I use Amarok on Linux - I just don't believe it works on OS X without running KDE. Bring on KDE 4.

I don't know about AAC files - I don't have any.

Comment by bear on Fri, 06 Oct 2006

Check out Songbird - I now use it every day instead of iTunes.

On the Mac Songbird uses Quicktime for its playback of media files so it may be a case of adding the proper plugin.