Rather than post some things I’ve written about what’s going on with me, here’s a bit about something I hate.
I fucking hate iTunes. That’s not a new thing at all. I say that not coming from my general dislike of Macs and how their operating systems make me want to put my fist through the monitor, or the whole “hipsters/artdouches/people who talk with their hands/idiots who can’t handle PCs are Mac users” cliche. I specifically hate iTunes because it’s an unsuable piece of shit.
In 2006 I bought an iPod shuffle. It was cheap and it did what I needed it to do, and it came with iTunes. At the time it was a good way to organize everything, even though it took months to burn my CD collection (even today I’m finding tracks that didn’t burn, and “skip” halfway through). Two things to note: while I was burning 1000ish discs, the computer I was using wasn’t connected to the internet; every bit of info-titles, artist, track numbers, etc.- were entered by hand. Not knowing any better at the time (and in the interest of saving space) all those albums were burned as AAC, low-quality audio files. Had I known file size wouldn’t be an issue, at least on my computers, I’d have gone for quality. The files themselves were later transferred to my computer, which promptly installed 73 goddamn updates.
About a year later, that shuffle died and I got a newer one with way more memory, about 80 hours worth of music. That’s when I discovered that a given iPod would be forever connected to a limited number of computers. Now a particular computer can be removed from the list, but only after a lot of complicated finagling and, in my case, fruitless calls to Apple support. They don’t want you to untie your iPod from you 2008 computer, they want you to buy a new iPod. And a new Mac. And they will make it as difficult and costly as possible (you can bring that in and we’ll remove the device from it for just a “small” service fee).
But I figured I’d upgrade to a different iPod (and reset iTunes properly) before I ran out of my allowed number of machines. In late 2010, my desktop bit it and I got a new one. When the backed-up files were transferred, iTunes decided to duplicate 90% of my library. But only on the interface, which I discovered after I deleted a dozen albums worth of files. Lesson learned, but inexplicably it’s a built-in iTunes “feature”: it asks if you’re sure you want to delete songs (go ahead) and then asks you if you want to delete files (definitely don’t), without specifying which is which. Around the same time, I figured I’d go ahead and update iTunes.
Now, iTunes apparently updates multiple times a week, and usually for reasons I can’t fathom. So after years of saying no to updates after that initial bunch, I let it do what it wanted. At that point, the cloud option became available; not knowing what it did, I turned it on. What it did was proceed to update all that manually-input info. Suddenly album covers disappeared or were replaced, artists were listed in multiples with different spellings (Elvis Costello and the Attractions/Elvis Costello & the Attractions) with no consistency, artists were split up with the “album artist” info, and so forth. I currently have two B.B. Kings listed- one with all his albums on it, and another with just one. Anything with a guest artist could suddenly be, and was, listed 15 different ways. The organization was completely fucked. In the menu, there are options to download and replace artist info (which somehow fucked things even more), and remove duplicates (which is a fantastic way to delete different versions of songs with the same title), and I both made the problem worse. About 8 months later, my hard drive ate itself. Fortunately I had a backup drive. Unfortunately, the drive only backed up files, not everything. After re-downloading iTunes, I then discovered everthing was back…. in triplicate. It took two and a half years to get rid of most of the extra listings.
The latest issue kind of crept up on me. Back when the cloud was installed, I was prompted to create an all-encompassing Apple ID. That in itself has some massive issues, but because the only apple product I own is the iPod, mine were simpler than that. First, at some point my password was either changed or input wrong; I was locked out of the ability to purchase music; as my card expired about the same time, I let it go and stuck with torrents and CDs rather than deal with Apple support asking for god-only-knows how much personal info. Second, the cloud ID was completely different from the previous iTunes login. That wasn’t an issue until a few months ago, after I moved and discovered I wasn’t “authorized” to listen to any of the couple hundred songs I’d purchased over the years. While I did have ripped copies of about half of them which I’m told could be re-burned without issue, I’d gotten lazy at some point. I finally emailed Apple support, and was told the problem was between the old Apple ID and the cloud ID. They suggested I sign out of iTunes and sign in under the cloud ID (which it presumably had been). And it worked….. for some songs. Not in any logical way- if the oldest downloads needed the old ID and the newer stuff the cloud ID, that would make sense even if it was shitty. But it seems to be completely random.
The biggest issue, for me, is that I like the shuffle. I’d probably be happy with everything I own on a normal iPod, but having limits has its benefits too. I enjoy making playlists. To some degree, I want to have to pay attention to what I have; it keeps things from falling beneath my notice. I want to flip through album covers and hear stuff I haven’t listened to in ages. I want to get stuck listening to that whole album I threw on a playlist, even if I was only thinking about one song. On some level I have a need to upkeep my collection. But I can only do that as far as the program that exists to organize my shit actually keeps my shit organized.
As it stands, iTunes is like a spreadsheet full of data that randomly transposes fields every few days. Fuck that. And fuck Apple.