How do you share music between Macs and iPods?
January 31, 2005 1:44 PM   Subscribe

2 iPod users, 2 Macs- how do we share music? [MI]

I have a Mac, a 10G iPod, and about 20G of tunes in iTunes, including some stuff from iTMS. My g/f has an iBook, and just got a 4G Mini. In a nutshell, what's the best way for her to have access to my music library (and keep it updated) for her iPod? Some issues:

- Her iBook is authorized to play my iTMS music.

- Her iBook HD is not big enough for my entire library. I'm thinking any solution would be someone manual or playlist-based.

- I'm open to the idea of keeping all the music physically on my tower, but can iTunes manage 2 iPods separately, with independent "fill" criteria?

- Has anyone tried a remote iTunes library (e.g. alias ~/Music/Itunes whatever on her machine to mine)? Is this reliable? We're both on Airport Extreme. She currently listens to my library via Rendezvous, which is not without hiccups.

What I'd ideally like is to let her copy whatever she wants to her library, and be able to do it going forward with whatever music I buy. I also want to let her rip her CD's into her library, and give me the ability to poach what I want as well.
posted by mkultra to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
My husband and I started using a remote iTunes library a couple of weeks ago; we put a giant hard drive in a spare PC and loaded it up. Our Mac and PCs all read from it wirelessly. No problems so far, although we haven't really tested its limits. One thing we have noticed is that it's more susceptible to slow-downs when we're downloading or uploading something.

And yes, iTunes can manage 2 iPods separately. We both manage our two iPods from one iMac. If you each want different, selective portions of the library, I recommend disabling the "automatic update" feature, and drag files to load them on your respective iPods.
posted by boomchicka at 2:03 PM on January 31, 2005

What about getting her a bigger hard drive? They're easy to install and the pay off in the long run is substantial.
posted by glyphlet at 2:06 PM on January 31, 2005

You might want to look at iTunes Library Manager - this lets you back up your iTunes library, so you can move the library (along with all your ratings info) to another computer, without having to go through the laborious process of dropping the tracks into a new iTunes library on the new computer.

The other thing you can do with the library manager is swap between music libraries, so you can have a number of different setups for different people - even though they all reference the same music on the same drive. So for example, you might create a library that contains ONLY your girlfriend's favourite tracks, so that you can set the iTunes app to auto-update, switch into your girlfriend's library, and have the iPod sync without having to manually drag and drop your favourite tunes.
posted by skylar at 2:38 PM on January 31, 2005

Response by poster: Ugh. Why is this so hard, anyway? You'd think that Apple, of all people, would have a system to support this. How do families share music? The DRM is there, and we're all using hardware that supports it.

glyphlet- I see what you're saying, but it's an additional expense and doesn't solve the process of actually sharing the library.
posted by mkultra at 3:24 PM on January 31, 2005

I don't see why it's hard. It's very easy - I have three Macs and a Windows PC, all using iTunes, all sharing the same music, whether on MP3 or sourced from the iTunes Store. Network the machines together - by Airport is probably the easiest way if you have it - and you can move the tracks onto the iPod from any of them.

Apple _does_ have a built in system to enable music sharing for families. It's the streaming sharing function. Enable it on both iTunes jukeboxes and then each user can stream the other's music.
posted by skylar at 4:20 PM on January 31, 2005

Response by poster: Yeah, but the streaming won't let her manage her iPod very well. I'm going with remote iTunes library for now- an Applescript should be able to add new tracks I add to her Library.
posted by mkultra at 4:23 PM on January 31, 2005

iPod Download is a plugin for iTunes that will help you out. Apple has tried to shut down sites that host it, so it might take a little google work to find a host you can still grab it from.
posted by fourstar at 4:23 PM on January 31, 2005

It's actually not an easy problem to solve: this was brought up on boingboing recently, in relation to this blog post (where I commented, making this a sorta self link). Check that thread out to see if anything there helps.

What you want (I think) is two networked computers to access the same collection, but use separate databases, with each database updated whenever the other person adds a new track to the collection. It is easy to set a network-mounted drive as your music folder, but it is not easy to get the updating part.
posted by adamrice at 4:46 PM on January 31, 2005

I've set up a remote library to the old G4 server, and listen through rendezvous on my Powerbook. Three comments regarding the experience:

1. If the music share is not mounted on my Powerbook, most of the time playing a song will automatically mount the share, which is nice.

2. I do notice some lag switching between songs, it's not as fast as if it's reading the local drive, but it's bearable. I'm also using an old 11mbps Airport.

3. I've been unsuccessful at burning a CD with networked files. Maybe with a faster connection it would work, but in my experience if I want to make a CD I have to remote into the tower and burn it there.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 4:52 PM on January 31, 2005

The Linux on iPod project is working on being able to link up two iPods directly via firewire (with no intermediate computer) to transfer files, etc. They just extracted the bootloader, so I imagine things are moving fairly quickly.
posted by ori at 4:56 PM on January 31, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for your input, everyone. Fourstar- I've looked at various similar solutions, but the problem with iTunes "add-on" software is that it tends to break with every iTunes update.
posted by mkultra at 8:04 AM on February 1, 2005

The easiest, and in my opinion, best option is to set up file sharing on the two machines and copy files back and forth. This way you can cut iTunes and the iPod out of the picture and you and the g-friend can copy just the files that you want (music or otherwise) and not worry about breakage when iTunes updates are rolled out.

Easy, no?
posted by glyphlet at 8:17 AM on February 1, 2005

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