Managing digital music

Heidi has a great pair of posts about managing her downloads, and using her MP3 player with Rhapsody. Fred also mentions Rhapsody. When I start to read stuff like this, my mind naturally starts asking, “Am I missing out?”.

During the past couple of weeks I’ve installed iTunes on Windows. The sole purpose of installing iTunes was to enable Mugshot to let others in my network see what music I’m listening to (and by the way, when you all start adding “quips”, it can be quite an addictive and entertaining experience). I don’t own an iPod… my little USB stick music player just plays MP3 files, that’s all. I have lots and lots of CDs, but I don’t buy music on download (yet). I might sometimes grab a free MP3 download when one is on offer. At home I’ve got an old, old Linux server which runs some old, old software (ample) to stream a smallish set of MP3s, and I sometimes connect to that using Windows Media Player or iTunes. We currently don’t own a stereo. I’m far less sophisticated that I may sometimes seem 🙂

iTunes, then. Well it works well enough as a music player, and is OK for managing my library (love the flippy-CD cover view, although it is somewhat gimmicky). I got an iTunes store account so that it could fetch album artwork for me. I switched it to rip CDs as MP3s. If I buy stuff from the iTunes store it is going to be DRM’d and in .m4p format, which my player doesn’t recognise… so although I can see lots of stuff I might fancy in the store, there seems to be little point in purchasing it, as I’ll only ever be able to play it on this laptop. Ideally I want to be able to buy stuff online, without DRM (!), in MP3 format, and play it through any of my devices, and also then let Mugshot or whatever social software advertise it. Incidentally, I see that Google Talk also has some music sharing features, which work with a range of players (WMP included, which Mugshot doesn’t currently support).

I don’t think there’s a solution right now, but I’m prepared to be convinced. I’m aware of this last.fm thing, but I haven’t used it and I’m not entirely sure that I know what it does. I played with Pandora once upon a time. I haven’t even looked at Rhapsody, in fact I didn’t even know about it until I started to read my feeds over the past couple of weeks. Which company or service is the least “evil”? I don’t know *sigh*.

Frankly, the brave new digital world of music is a total minefield. And I’m supposed to understand technology. Allegedly.

I’ll close with the link that started it all – well, it was the one that made Heidi think twice – CDs vs Downloads, from Lifehacker.

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15 responses to “Managing digital music

  1. I think Rhapsody is US-only — at least, that’s the impression I got last time I tried to find out about it.

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  2. Oh, yay. In the highly sarcastic sense of the word “yay”.

    I shall investigate more at some stage.

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  3. You’re right. US-only. Fan-dabby-dozy.

    That’s another one off my list.

    *strikes the word “Rhapsody” off an imaginary list, with a flourish*

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  4. i dont use rhapsody but all you need to do is put in a fake US post code. as you can imagine they have a surprisingly high number of customers in 90210…

    last.fm is a better service, imho – its based on recommendations of a network. to get a feel for it try listening to dorktunes, which rolls up the playlists of the 37 people in the group (friends of redmonk). i dont use mugshot but i sume that is like last.fm’s scrobbler – which uploads what you play onto the network. here is the group membership, including some ibmers. http://www.last.fm/group/dorktunes/

    dont know about Evil but last.fm is at least a British startup, which surely counts for something

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  5. This post was, of course, placed as Governor-bait in the first place 😉

    Thanks for the comment on last.fm. I keep meaning to check out eMusic, too.

    So many sites, so little time.

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  6. Well, after I posted this I finally subscribed to Rhapsody. I’ve been thinking about the oodles of music on my computer (most of it I don’t own anyway) taking up space and I thought about trying a more legal solution too. It really is hard to promote legal music to the patrons that come in the library when I’m being very hypocritical about it myself.

    I have to say, I love Rhapsody. It works beautifully with my Rhapsody Sansa too (I’m not sure about other players). I’ve subscribed to a few channels and every time I plug in my MP3 player it will update my player with music based on those channels automatically. I was listening to one grocery shopping yesterday and I had to keep from singing out loud at the store. Unless you purchase a song you don’t actually own it though, but I’m thinking that’s not a bad thing. I can still listen to it on my player and on my computer (if my sound worked). If my tastes change then I don’t have a whole lot of music stuck on my computer that I won’t listen to in a year or two…I can just change my Rhapsody tracks, or even change them back easily if I think of something I want to hear again. I don’t know, maybe just subscription based music is the way to go?

    Anyway, this was an interesting post to think about. I’m taking a digital issues seminar class this semester and I’m doing my research on DRM…there’s so much to talk about on this subject!

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  7. Thanks for the extra information, Heidi. I might do as James says and see whether Rhapsody is accessible, but I don’t hold out much hope. The Sansa player is one I’ve looked at in the past, but the Rhapsody integration was a new one on me until I read about it on your blog.

    Incidentally, good source of free MP3s is FreeIndie.com 🙂

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  8. The Sansa MP3 player was a gift, I just threw it up on my Amazon wishlist because it got high ratings…I think if I had actually researched it a little more I might not have picked that one.

    On the other hand, I can’t say that I haven’t enjoyed using it. I think Rhapsody may have won me over by getting me hooked on ease of use, both getting music and using the player.

    I think it depends on what kind of music you have and how you want to listen to it. I believe I could be completely satisfied using my Sansa player and my new Rhapsody subscription service and nothing else. I like the idea of not taking up a lot of space on my computer with music, or even not having to rip CDs to my MP3 player.

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  9. I’ve put it on my wishlist too, although I’m not convinced I have such generous benefactors 😉

    I notice from comments on Amazon.co.uk that the US version has an FM tuner, but the UK version doesn’t. Maybe I’ll save up to get one when I’m on American soil in April.

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  10. You’re right, it does have an FM Tuner. I guess you can also record what comes through the radio tuner, although I don’t know if I would have a use for that. It has a voice recorder too, that might come in handy.

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  11. Pingback: Now on Last.fm « The lost outpost

  12. Hi,
    Have you tried windows media player 11. It has some nice features like syncing you music player ipod etc. But why should one use ipod as you get camera as well as audio video music player in your nokia cell phones (music edition).
    I am a proffessional sound engineer. You can visit my blog :
    http://digitalmusicrecording.blogspot.com/
    thanx

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  13. I do have WMP 11 on one of my laptops, but I haven’t investigated all of the features yet. Right now I’m also playing around with Songbird, which looks really cool, but doesn’t work (properly) with last.fm (yet).

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  14. I’m using Helium Music Manager for my everyday scrobbling needs. It hooks up just perfectly with my Last.fm account and is also able to display track detail and album art in Live Messenger. Give it a try:

    http://www.helium-music-manager.com

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  15. Nice bit of advertising there Ricardo. It’s worth noting that this Helium thing is Windows only and also costs $.

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