I want a divorce from iTunes.
March 22, 2021 7:55 AM   Subscribe

What alternatives are there to store/organize/listen to my large ripped/purchased from Amazon/DRM Free music on my iphone and Mac computer? I like how iTunes basically functions, but I hate the nightmares it puts me through on the regular these days. I hate Spotify, and it doesn't have a lot of my more obscure music anyway. [Could swear someone asked this recently but can't find it sorry.]
posted by bluesky78987 to Technology (14 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I use Foobar2000 on Windows, and there is a (WIP) Mac port available. I can't speak to the quality of the port, but it works for me on Windows.
posted by Alterscape at 8:07 AM on March 22, 2021

I have a plex server set up running on a Mac mini, then I use Plexamp on my phone and my laptop. This requires a paid plex pass though.
posted by sleeping bear at 8:35 AM on March 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

We just installed a NAS here at home and it came with the option to run a Plex server. I have DLNP enabled on the Plex server and listen to the music library via VLC.

This is without upgrading Plex to the paid-pass thing. VLC is available for the phone, also free. Am streaming to it even as I type this.
posted by jquinby at 8:45 AM on March 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

So - to get my music on/off my iPhone/iDevices, I use CopyTrans - which apparently is free these days (I used to pay $30).

I keep my media library on a Synology server that also runs Plex - if I want to stream at home to my stereo's, that's what I use as the source. However, I also have a Raspberry Pi with a DAC hooked-up to my primary stereo and a copy of that music library on that (USB sticks), so I can play music - that is running "volumeio", but I am thinking of changing it, as it is limited.
posted by rozcakj at 8:47 AM on March 22, 2021

This requires a paid plex pass though.

The Plex app (official I think), I installed on my phone had a 1-time price associated - of course, it only works when I am on my home wifi - but, I have much of my most-listened-to-music already on my phone. (I am "teh olds", I won't stream what I could play locally)
posted by rozcakj at 8:49 AM on March 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

Swinsian on the Mac and then CopyTrans to copy over to the iPhone.
posted by Lanark at 9:43 AM on March 22, 2021

I still have all my iTunes music on my computer, but I spent the time to re-create my substantial playlists in Spotify.
posted by Peach at 10:00 AM on March 22, 2021

I like how iTunes basically functions, but I hate the nightmares it puts me through on the regular these days.

It would be helpful if you told us exactly what the nightmares iTunes puts your through are, so we can better address your needs. I honestly have no issues with iTunes and managing my huge music library, so it's hard for me to recommend anything different without knowing what issues you're having.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:08 AM on March 22, 2021 [5 favorites]

I'm a Plex user. As mentioned above, the Plex App on mobile devices has a one-time charge. It can't download media, though, only stream, without a Plex Pass.

I haven't tried that function yet as I only lately got the Plex Pass and then my desktop computer crapped out last week.

Important pro-tip on Plex. You want to disable authentication for clients on the local network, a setting on the Plex Server. That way your mobile apps and such don't have to check in with Plex's cloud before streaming/playing music when you're at home, and more importantly so you can still enjoy your media when the internet is down.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:47 AM on March 22, 2021 [4 favorites]

Also a Plex user. I think it's worth paying for the Plex Pass specifically for Plexamp & the syncing options for music. Really great app. You can do monthly to see if you like it and then they have a lifetime pass.

I know you're not into streaming, and neither am I, but if you combine Plex with their discounted Tidal plan, it will integrate streaming seamlessly into Plexamp. For example, if I have one album by Some Artist in my collection, it will show all the albums I'm missing alongside the ones I do have available via streaming. Pretty cool.

Within Plex you can also enable DLNA which will make your library accessible to all kinds of apps and devices on your network. At my house the TV, my network enabled stereo receiver, VLC, and even iTunes (when I accidentally open it) will all play music from DLNA.

If you don't have some sort of NAS or always-on computer to run the Plex server, a popular solution to that is to buy a cheap Raspberry Pi mini-computer kit.
posted by bradbane at 11:21 AM on March 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all. I will look into these things. Plex sounds ... involved? But may be worth it.
posted by bluesky78987 at 7:38 AM on March 23, 2021

Plex isn't terribly difficult to set up - I ran it on a desktop PC awhile back just to futz around with it. Once it's up and running, you connect with a browser and configure your media libraries: video, music, photographs, and the directories these things are sitting in. Then it indexes everything and boom, you're good to go. I haven't touched most of the other features and do not have remote access enabled at all - you need to be on our local network to see the server. Neither have I really touched most of the other controls in the dashboard.

Where I found Plex to be a little bit fidgety is in reconciling the auto-generated metadata around your media. In our case, this was only an issue with the movies. It'll download cast information, posters, etc, and the algorithm is pretty good, but not perfect. For example, this is the poster Plex hilariously downloaded for this children's movie. It needed a little manual cleanup, but has otherwise been bulletproof.
posted by jquinby at 8:32 AM on March 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Oh, and also (more for movies and TV shows), using overly descriptive filenames can help Plex organize things like TV show seasons and episodes. Again, probably shouldn't be any sort of issue with music if you're straight-transferring over an existing iTunes library.
posted by jquinby at 8:35 AM on March 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

I was looking back at my Favorite questions from last year and found this one. Since then I've discovered Doppler which has Mac and iPhone apps. I've only had a quick try of the Mac app and it seems good but so far has fewer features compared to iTunes (e.g. less complete editing of tracks' metadata, no star ratings). It's being actively developed though and will apparently be gaining more features. It's possible to sync tracks between the Mac and iPhone apps.
posted by fabius at 5:49 AM on January 3

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