Why I’m leaving iTunes

I have been using iTunes to purchase all my music since it was first announced. I have spent some time lately deciding if I want to continue using the service or move on. As you can tell by the title I have decided to leave the service. Below are the reasons for my decision.

1. One major problem I have is that you can only authenticate 5 machines. Maybe I’m just not ordinary but I have more than 5 computers. Here is a quick run down. I have a MacBook Pro, 3 MacBooks, Mac Mini, 2 Media Center PCs, Windows Desktop, and a Windows computer in the garage to control the outdoor speakers. That is 9 computers that I use on a regular basis. I guess it’s not just me, my girlfriend uses some of the computers. I also have many computers for testing new things, 2 Dell GX150s, G4 mirror tower and a Dell GX260. Now I paid for my music rather than stealing it but I can’t even play in on all the computers I own. I have to deauthorize then reauthorize all the time. I have run into issues where I forget to deauthorize before I reformat. That locks up one of my authentications so I have to login to my account and deauthorize all. This isn’t a big deal but you can only do that twice a year. For someone like me that is constantly changing things this process is just annoying.

2. Another major issue is DRM. When I first started the service DRM wasn’t a big issue. I didn’t mind them throwing some security measures in place. Now I’m just annoyed by it. I can’t stand that I can’t get my music into my Windows Media Center. I can’t stand the fact that I can’t put it on my Nokia N800. Or that I can’t quickly make a ringtone for my windows smartphone. I understand that iTunes does have some DRM free tracks now. And I buy the DRM free song if it’s available. But the collection is limited. And if I already bought a song with DRM and now it is available in DRM free than I feel I should be able to swap my version to the free version, but you can’t.

3. The last thing is lack of faith. I use to believe that iTunes and Apple were doing their best to offer me the best selection of music at the best prices. I now know that is not true. There are new companies offering bigger selections of DRM free tracks at a cheaper rate. If Apple has such a good relationship with the music labels then why couldn’t they have offered DRM free and cheaper rates. Well my guess is they need DRM to make sure you are loading that iPod with iPod only content. You can’t buy the content through iTunes and use it on another player. It all comes down to making the most money by locking the consumer in with a product/service. I believe you should open the product/server and if that product/service is so good people will use it. Don’t make it so they have to have an iPod if they purchased material from iTunes.

So now what am I going to do since I left?

1. I’m going to bite the bullet and convert all my iTunes purchased tracks to MP3. I know there will be a loss of quality but I would rather lose quality than steal a good copy of the song I already purchased. I have over 600 tracks in my purchased folder. Probably 90% of those were paid for and not free songs. I’m going to first try Hymn project to rip the DRM. If that doesn’t work I’m going to use DRM dumpster to convert the tracks.

2. The next thing I’m going to do is re-organize my music in Windows Media Player. I know that Windows Media player isn’t the greatest but stick with me through the rest of this post. Windows Media Player will give me access to my music collection on the Windows Media Center computers in the house. Also most MP3 players work with Windows Media Player so I will have a wider variety of players to choose from.

3. I’m going to use Amazon MP3 to download my new music. It is fairly easy to use and has a good selection of DRM free tracks. It will automatically import the songs into either Windows Media Player or iTunes.

4. I’m going to use software to sync my master Windows Media library with iTunes. I was looking at MusicBridge to syce the libraries but I haven’t tried it out yet. People report success with it though. By syncing the libraries I will still be able to use iTunes for the iPods. No point in buying a new player when my iPods still work.

5. The main reason why I picked Windows Media Player was because of the Windows Home Server. I posted about WebGuide for Windows Home Server earlier this month. With that application it will give me access to all of my music via the web. This will be better than just sharing iTunes over a single sub-net. It will not only give me access to my music at my house but will allow me to have my same playlist and music at work. I’m on a 10MB download and 1MB upload connection at home. So it won’t have any issues streaming via the web.

This is a big change and will take many months for me to complete all of these steps. Currently I have over 4,600 songs in iTunes. My family and I own 10 iPods. We have 30GB video, 20GB iPod, 2 first gen nanos, 1 2nd gen nano, 1 3rd gen nano, 2 4GB mini’s and 2 shuffles. I will admit that iTunes is the best organizer for music but I feel moving beyond iTunes is what is best for me to get the most out of the music I’m paying for. Plus there is no point in buying shows when almost every show is available online for free.

Let me know if you have made the switch. I would love to hear about some of the issues you ran into or successes you had. And if you think I’m an idiot for doing this I would love to hear your reasons why.

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