How to Deal With the Listening to Music Problem (A Continuation)

This post is an update from this one:  http://chaimtime.com/2011/07/31/google-music-for-the-win-in-the-cloud-storage-war/

I’ve now dealt with all three services for an extensive amount of time, and I can comfortably  say that I still enjoy google music (or play music).  Since that post, I’ve changed how I deal with certain issues.

I’m still running a mac, hooked up to a windows home server, connected to my android phone, ipod nano (3rd gen) in my car, and my ipad2.  I still can’t find a winning system, but I think this is the best.  Obviously this works for today only, and tomorrow may change things.

My current setup is:

iTunes on my mac for music management.  I run a mac, and have iOS devices, and I see my future still having iOS devices.  I know that iTunes on Windows is painful to run, but I have a mac.  I know we can argue about doubletwist, but I’ve used it and don’t like it.  It takes forever to load.  On a mac you have to use iTunes.

Podcasts: I use Shifty Jelly – PocketCasts .  There is google listen, but it requires setting up RSS, and it isn’t that intuitive.  Pay the money to get a real solution.

Android management:  I use JRT Studio – iSyncr.  Support is great, and it works.  Again, pay the money, and you won’t regret it.

Cloud Solution:  Google Music – Free, and cross platform (I think the right way).

Podcasts – I’ve given up, syncing podcasts.  Instead I use a program from Shifty Jelly called – PocketCasts .  There are others that do the same thing, but I like these guys.  They put out a great product.  Just to be able to skip 30 seconds forward (or 10 seconds back).    The problem with podcasts, it is the only real reason to ever sync your device.  Your playlists don’t change all too often, so, if you forego podcast syncing, your issue changes.

Playlists – I’m still very old school when it comes to buying music.  I rarely just buy singles, even though that is what I’m supposed to be doing.  If Amazon is selling music for $5, I might as well buy the album.  If the “three good songs” idea is still valid, that is still $3, and for $2 more, I can have a completed album.  I still fall victim to overplaying an single that changes my mind.

I need good playlist management.  This is the hardest part because you are limited to phone storage, and you can’t be constantly hitting next, or stopping to change settings.  Now that you removed the podcast issue, you need to create some very good smart playlists.  I use iTunes for that.  There are enough good tutorials around the net that help with smart playlists.

iSyncr is an app that moves your playlists to your phone.  It works with all good music players.  Unless you have some obscure music player, it will work (notably missing is amazon’s player).  You hook up your android phone, and it asks which playlists to move over, and it works.  The author is great with service, support, and updates; just email him.

Play counts and Ratings – The hardest part of having dual OSes.  Since you chose to deal with iTunes, you need to get that information back.  Again use iSycnr.  It works.  It isn’t  as easy as “it just works,” but it works with an initial 5 minute setup that is explained in detail.  It works with play music, which is why I highly recommend this.

Why I chose Google Music (Play Music):

For a streaming solution, your three and half choices are: Amazon Cloud Player, Google (Play) Music, iCloud, and rolling your own.  If you are rolling your own, you don’t need me to explain things to you.

My choice is google (play) music.  Like I said, I think it gives me the best of both worlds.  When I say best, I mean it lacks certain killer features.  Since google (play) music has survived the hatchet a few times, I have a feeling it will stay.  It is also inter-twined with social too much to be killed off.  The 20,000 songs is a psychological annoyance, but I really don’t know too many people that have (or need) 20,000 songs in the cloud at one point.

It’s selling points are that google allows programs to access it.  Running google (play) music on your phone in either offline or streaming mode, allows programs to increment play counts.  iSyncr has found a way to work with the metadata.  While it isn’t, “it just works,” it does in fact work with minimal effort.

For people still reading, just use iSyncr normally, and it will take care of everything for you. It will sync everything, assuming you are using iTunes as your manager of choice.  Do not use the google (play) music site for management, for it is a silo of information.

The problems are that the site does not interact with iTunes.  Listening on the website does not allow you to interact with the meta data.  You have to learn then to hook up your phone to your speakers if this is a problem for you.  On the website it allows you to make smart playlists, but they are not as smart as iTunes, nor as easy to make.  The thumbs up/thumbs down rating is nice, but I want slightly more than like/don’t like.  It comes from the idea that you are buying music from the google (play) music store, but I’m not.  I’m importing, and there are songs that are good, but not in the same league.

Amazon is great, but Amazon should stick with selling music, and providing amazing cloud storage.  They haven’t figured out a way to provide a good consumer experience yet.  They are a third party, and with any third party, getting people to download software doesn’t work. I think they have the best secondary method of getting music into the average user’s iTunes or Media Player library.  I think their fatal flaw is two fold.  One they not disintermediating music from files.  Currently, they have storage plans, but having to renew things gets cumbersome.  As you can see from the picture I have unlimited music storage until March 29, to which then, I assume I’m going to get an email that says, pay us, or something happens.  Have music be unlimited, but limit other files to the 5gb, 20gb, etc… I want amazon to explain to a computer luddite that their music is gone until they re-up their subscription.  The good thing, for some is that music is unlimited.  None of the other services have unlimited music.  

MyAmazonAccount

My Amazon Account Options

Second problem is that Cloud Player is also a silo.  You can upload/download the music, but you can’t export the valuable meta information from it.  You can’t create smart playlists.  The idea is that you are streaming, which you don’t need to be limited by storage.  Cloud Player is probably great for a Kindle Fire, but not for my needs.  Since Cloud Player is not open, you can’t interact with it from other locations.

iCloud ‘s iTunes Match is probably what I should be using, but my primary listening device is my android phone.  If I didn’t have an android phone, I would highly consider iTunes Match as my cloud option.  For those thinking about it, I’ll give you a rundown.  Paying $25 a year will keep all your music in the cloud by syncing the metadata.  It searches by metadata, meaning if iTunes has the song it will keep the 256kb AAC version.  If iTunes doesn’t have the song, it will upload it for you.

So far iTunes Match has not been smooth sailing, but it has calmed down.  iCloud has worked, but iTunes Match has been giving problems.  Mainly in the process of tagging.  People are complaining that it won’t find correctly labeled music, and options are limited.  I understand why you can’t choose what song it is (if not found) (you could associate fake songs with other songs), but there needs to be a solution in version 2.  The issue of $25 for a piracy tax is unnerving.  It isn’t a cost for 25,000 songs, but rather a tax every year for piracy.

iTunes Match is a silo just like Cloud Player, but if everything is in iTunes, it shouldn’t make a difference.  Since Apple has allowed programs to access iTunes playlists, it is acceptable to silo the data.  Unlike Cloud Player, the desktop application works on windows as well.

My choice is google (play) music.  Like I said, I think it gives me the best of both worlds.  When I say best, I mean it lacks certain killer features.  Since google (play) music has survived the hatchet a few times, I have a feeling it will stay.  It is also inter-twined with social too much to be killed off.  The 20,000 songs is a psychological annoyance, but I really don’t know too many people that have (or need) 20,000 songs in the cloud at one point.

It’s selling points are that google allows programs to access it.  Running google (play) music on your phone in either offline or streaming mode, allows programs to increment play counts.  iSyncr has found a way to work with the metadata.  While it isn’t, “it just works,” it does in fact work with minimal effort.

For people still reading, just use iSyncr normally, and it will take care of everything for you. It will sync everything, assuming you are using iTunes as your manager of choice.  Do not use the google (play) music site for management, for it is a silo of information.

The problems are that the site does not interact with iTunes.  Listening on the website does not allow you to interact with the meta data.  You have to learn then to hook up your phone to your speakers if this is a problem for you.  On the website it allows you to make smart playlists, but they are not as smart as iTunes, nor as easy to make.  The thumbs up/thumbs down rating is nice, but I want slightly more than like/don’t like.  It comes from the idea that you are buying music from the google (play) music store, but I’m not.  I’m importing, and there are songs that are good, but not in the same league.

Whatever you choose, don’t be married to it.  Be ready to move.

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