For almost as long as I've owned a computer, Steve Jobs – the man with fewer clothes than Homer Simpson – has had a draconian grip on my music. He's taken tunes that made me lose my mind on Ibizan dancefloors, songs that evoke memories of gloriously sweaty, gurning nights in indie discos and music that changed my whole outlook on life, and turned them into a fucking spreadsheet; a slow, unintuitive, unresponsive, clunky, fat, bloated, boring fucking spreadsheet. I don't know anyone that likes iTunes, but we all use it to one degree or another.
It's not as if things have got better with time, either. After each upgrade – the requests for which are infuriatingly endless – clicking between music, podcasts and playlists is just as laborious as it ever was, getting music into iTunes and off onto an iPod or mobile phone is even worse and that's all after waiting an eon for the whole thing to load up in the first place.
I genuinely believe I could teach my brother's dog, Scamp – who I suspect to be mentally subnormal, even for a Border Terrier – to play and then recite the whole of Mile's Davis' Kind of Blue quicker than the time it takes iTunes to load up and play it. But listen carefully, you can still hear the echo of sycophantic yelps and screams from Apple's recent WWDC keynote. Steve Jobs zealots rapturous at his latest 'innovation': iCloud. Finally, the answer to iTunes shortcomings... Well, not quite.
Like snotty teenage shop assistants, Apple products are more than happy to communicate amongst themselves, but if we have the impertinence to ask one of them to do a little extra work – like play a fucking song – it takes them an offensively defiant amount of time to do it.
Far from being a solution the soul-blackening experience that is iTunes, iCloud is little more than a fancy hard drive in the sky, automatically sending all of your music, photos, videos and stuff, to all of your Apple gadgets. If you buy some music on your iPhone, it's automatically synced to your iMac, MacBook and iPad. Like snotty teenage shop assistants, Apple products are more than happy to communicate amongst themselves, but if we have the impertinence to ask one of them to do a little extra work – like play a fucking song – it takes them an offensively defiant amount of time to do it. Little binary bastards.
Techies have suggested that iCloud could one day replace iTunes, having reportedly negotiated deals with the four major record labels, EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner Music, to offer a music-streaming service in America and eventually the rest of the world. Sound familiar?
If you already use Spotify, I'm probably preaching to the converted; if you don't, prepare to be sermonised. Spotify is the brainchild of Daniel Ek – who has the uncanny ability to look scruffy, smart, insouciant and on edge all at the same time – and he wants to make music ubiquitous like water, or Phillip Schofield. And he's not doing a bad job of it.
Spotify is free to download. Once you've got the program on your computer, you have the ability to stream more than 13 million tracks, free for ten hours a month, paid for by adverts – like on commercial radio. Pay a fiver and you lose the adverts. Pay a tenner and you can also listen on your phone and while offline.
Sound good? That's because it is – like the biggest, cheapest jukebox in the world. It should come as no surprise, then, that Apple are shitting themselves about the Swedish company's meteoric rise, reportedly hampering the launch of Spotify in the US until iCloud is fully ready.
iTunes is a vicious bunny-boiling bitch, going proper mental if I so much as look at another device, let alone try to give it a bloody good syncing.
I couldn't care less about the techie politics behind the growing iTunes VS. Spotify shitstorm. I'm not arsed about my music floating around in clouds or running like water – I'm still waiting for my movies to locomote like a snake and my books to lactate like a tit, truth be told. All I'm really bothered about is listening to music and Spotify is the best way to do that.
I like Spotify's appearance. It's well designed – of course it is, it's Swedish. It plays skilfully and with finesse: Zlatan Ibrahimović to iTunes' Alexi Lalas. It's also the perfect platform to listen to all of those bands and artists I feel I have some musical-moral responsibility to hear, but would never get around to 'buying'. I've been listening to a lot of Ennio Morricone lately, for example. Ennio fucking Morricone!
The social element is the other aspect of Spotfy that I really like, creating democratic playlists with your mates anytime you have a little get-together is ace. (Democratic until someone gets too pissed and adds a never-ending dirge of prog-rock, that is. You know who you are.)
It doesn't stop there, either. While iTunes is a vicious bunny-boiling bitch, going proper mental if I so much as look at another device, let alone try to give it a bloody good syncing; Spotify has a distinctly more Swedish outlook, allowing me to sync songs effortlessly to my iPod, phone, whatever – the nubile little harlot. Which brings me on to my final point: now that I can import all of my music to Spotify, buy bundles to download music cheaper than on iTunes and do the whole thing without feeling like I'm going to have an Apple-induced rage blackout, why do I still bother with the spreadsheet?
I don't know. Podcasts, maybe. The familiarity of the whole thing, perhaps. A masochistic love of being treat like a gimp by a sadistic collection of code, who knows. Whatever the reason, with Spotify's impending launch in the States and a deal brewing with Facebook, it's looks like iTunes' tyrannical reign of annoyance over our music will soon be over.
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