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Dear, iTunes November 13, 2011

Posted by reidmix in Music.
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An iTunes Wishlist

Here’s a running list of things I wish was in iTunes.  Inspiration comes mostly from discogs.com who understand what music lovers need & want.  I use playlists to add most metadata I need (not just mixtapes, but from where, when I listened to music, what series it came on, covers, etc.).

But for the uses below, playlists are weak at best.

  1. Label field – I use composer to store which Label a release came from because it is searchable.  I’ve been wanting a dedicated field for years and years, should act just like composers do (searchable, grid category, used in smart playlists, etc.)
  2. Mix/Remix field – These are common enough they should have their own field, should come up in a search.
  3. Featuring field – ditto as #2
  4. Multiple Label fields – Sometimes a single release comes out on more than one Label (ie. 4ad & Teenbeat). Bonus points to add the corresponding catalog number.
  5. Secondary Titles on Tracks – sometimes tracks have 2 names (usually in parenthesis, His Name is Alive, Flaming Lips are notorious for this)
  6. Secondary Titles on Albums – albums have subtitles too (often my comps)
  7. Album Section names – this happens often on deluxe re-releases/re-masters.  The original album plus the extras. Sometimes, groups of songs just have names.  I use grouping for this but it’s not useful, just informational.
  8. Ordering & Grouping Discs – multi-disc/boxsets sometimes name their CDs and are in some order.  I have to prefix the name with something like “Cloud Box 1:” to get them to stay together in the right order or not use their names at all (Disc 1 of 2, 2 of 2).  I’d like a better way.
  9. Sort Year - I want albums (usually anthologies or deluxe discs) that sort chronologically based on oldest song. For instance, The Cure’s Join the Dots has b-Sides and Rarities that go from 1978 to 2001.  It get’s sorted with albums at 1978. [Update 6/13 – in fact, these days I want a Release Date field when the compilation was released, sort by that and maybe even put them all at the bottom after non-compilations]
  10. Sort within Year – I want to sort chronologically albums from an artist that is released in the same year.  Not alphabetically.  This happens alot with singles and The Beatles.  Let me also specify release month or day in addition to year in these cases.
  11. Album Artist vs. Compilations – I use album artist to specify alternate band names for the same artist. This happens more than you’d think: Final Fantasy vs. Owen Pallett, Manitoba vs. Caribou, The Beat vs. The English Beat.  Occur for legal and other reasons.  Discogs has to mechanisms to deal with this, Artist Name Variants and Aliases.  But Album Artist works fine, except with compilations where it breaks the album up. Please fix.
  12. Style vs. Genre – I use genre more generically than most people.  Other music fans put the style in the Genre field or use grouping (see issues above). Allmusic and Discogs both have style, I want that too.  I could have better smart playlists.
I’ve used iTunes since before Apple bought it and renamed it from SoundJam MP and I still rally that it’s the best player out there. Generally, I want iTunes to be a better application:
  1. Muscle with Large CollectionsThink Apeture vs. iPhoto.  I’m locked into iTunes because of the playlists-as-metadata thing where I lose information if I archive music by moving it out of iTunes (and in turn lose which playlists the tracks were in).  So I want a little more muscle to handle my 30K song collection.  But even with enough RAM, iTunes sputters alot more than I’d like it to.  You got me here, help me out – I’m guessing it will only get worse.
  2. Music Only – I’ve already split my books/movies into their own iTunes library, I cannot quite split my apps and iPhone syncing without a big hassle. Maybe separate, dedicated apps makes sense.  Also, it has an added benefit that it will match up to the apps on the iPhone (Music, Videos, iBooks, etc.)
  3. Music Store plugins – I buy rarely from iTunes but sometimes I do.   I also have an eMusic subscription, I download from Daytrotter, I sometimes buy mp3s from Amazon. I have an application to download from each of these, do I really need them?  I know they’re competitors and to allow a plug-in architecture to download from their stores would compete with iTMS, but guess what? I’m still buying from them and they are still your competitors.
  4. Specify bitrate/kind for iTunes Matching – iTunes will use iCloud to “matche[s] plays back from iCloud at 256-Kbps AAC DRM-free quality — even if your original copy was of lower quality.” This is cool considering I started ripping my collection in the ’90s when space was sparce (128 Kbps, *shiver*).  But, 256-Kbps AAC? And really, no DRM, please.  Let me specify and I’ll pay you the $25.
All this social crap that’s been going in has been missing the mark (Ping, Recommendations, iMix) where Spotify has been knocking it out of the park. Here’s some basics to follow.  It will make me buy more music which you want:
  1. Let me Scrobble – Scrobble to Last.fm without a plugin.  Maybe keep things in sync.
  2. Friends – Let me link to friends, see their playlists, favorites, top artists & tracks, charge $5 a year.
  3. Shared Playlists – Truly peer to peer like Spotify, stream it, covered by charge in #2.
  4. Real recommendations – Let me push music to friends, stream it, covered by charge in #2.
Let me know what you think or your ideas for solutions to your iTunes frustrations.

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