I hate music and it’s all Apple’s fault

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That’s not strictly true, but this week it feels like it. The thought of trying to transfer music to and from my computer is making me want to smash my own face in. I’ve spent most of my free time this week trying to listen to music on my hard-drive and my, what a challenge it’s been, and it’s all thanks to iTunes. I hate it – and it seems that quite a few people feel the same way.

I just want to listen to some bloody music, but not that music

I’ve had the same music on my phone for about 8 months of it, and because of work, study and such, I have been too busy to make time for music. I’m pretty bored of everything that’s on my phone – which is 64Gb, but contains a fairly respectable 35-40gb of music. At the moment I have the time to spend sorting out some new music, but I’ve already spent 3 hours trying to transfer music from my PC to an iPhone – to no avail. It just won’t do it. Both my laptop and my phone are entering their twilight years in digital terms, and I know things slow down, so I can factor that into my annoyance. But iTunes is so utterly shit at the best times, and every time Apple announce a new version of it, I can’t help but get that sinking feeling knowing full well that it’s going to get even worse. The new iTunes revamped interface for the phone is really great for making playlists, completely shit for finding any of your music.

In the 21st century there are so many other distractions to occupy people’s time – when entertainment was reduced to taping shit off the radio or watching one of four TV stations in the 80s and early 90s, there was nothing else to do except obsess over an album, make a mixtape or read a book. Now music is virtually valueless and competes with social media, computer games and sport – so no wonder so much music sounds so turgid.

But what do I know? In youth culture terms I’m a dinosaur, so I’m long past having my finger on the pulse of the much-flogged beast, yet for someone who has always been pretty mad about music and always liked buying it, my interest in new music has seen a big drop-off in the past two or three years. This has been compounded by the fact that i can’t buy any more vinyl, and I just don’t want to buy digital music: I don’t want to be constrained by which platform or device I can use it on or how limited I am by the licensing. I’m not part of the 99p a song generation, and I’m glad in that sense I’m not.

I know that’s down to age more than anything, but considering technology is meant to make things like music enjoyment easier, I find myself increasingly spending time in silence rather than putting music on. Since music went digital i.e. we all started using digital hardware, I think was when I started to find music less personal. The confines of big city living mean I don’t have the space to have record decks and use of my vinyl – and who uses CDs still? They were a bank-breaking waste of time.  Also I miss the visual aesthetics of music collecting – the artwork, the sleeve notes the inner notes; having a little pic or icon on your computer screen or smartphone is just so…..sad.

Yet iTunes has annoyed me ever since i started using it. Here are even more reasons why it makes me want to cry and and drink copious amounts of booze:

  • loading albums into the library, which then disappear
  • breaking up compilation albums (usually anything by Trojan Records) not by CD, but by artist – leaving you with about 30 new album files from individual artists – and no way of playing the album as it was compiled.
  • Putting random tunes in my iTunes library by people I’ve never heard of, and U2.
  • Not recognising my iPhone and/or crashing

Now, I know there are other services and apps and whatnot out there that I can use to get around this, but I don’t want to use them. It’s taken me years of building up a digital music stash, and I know it’s sitting on my hard-drive and I want it, and i want it right now. If there was another like-for-like MP3 library that would bypass iTunes I take it in a heartbeat. Please don’t make me use Spotify, please…..

Music collections, for me, are much like book collections – if you’ve spent time and effort to build them up (and reading/listening to them in the process) then you’re probably pretty cool in my, um, book. I’m far more likely to instantly take to someone who has either (preferably both) – unless of course you have book shelves full of Ayn Rand and Dan Brown – or the musical equivalent, Coldplay and Justin Bieber. That’s why things like Spotify feels a bit like cheating – and it’s bad for all but the most popular artists. A good friend of mine says he discovered tons of new music using it; and the ability to make playlists public is pretty cool in a 21st century mix tape way, but I’ve tried and fallen at the first hurdle 3 times with Spotify.

I miss the days when listening was precious. Having the potential to listen to listen to 60gb of music on the go, on your phone is all well and good, but it takes the joy out of it. I remember going home from work in the pre-digital era – when people had Walkmans with tapes –  and thinking: “I’d love to listen to that when i get home.” Now, I have it with me, and it’s not special to sit down and give it a proper listen anymore – except for some of my LPs which I don’t have on digital format, which I so rarely have the opportunity to do now.

Overall, I think having spent more time than I would’ve liked on sorting out my music collection it has also brought into focus how I consume the medium, and also how conservative my music habits have become. Ultimately, having 11.2 days of continuous music on a device and being bored it, somehow makes me a little bit horrified of my own consumption habits.

I think if the digital era has taught me anything is that too much of something can be a good thing. Imagine if sex or money were as freely available as photography, music, ebooks or journalism are now? It would be akin to spending all your free time trying to put some new albums on an iPhone.

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