5 Reasons Why DJs Should Stop Using iTunes

bye bye itunes

For the first time in our history, we are now advising DJs not to use iTunes at all in their music discovery, organisation or preparation. Today we reveal why. Pic: Arstechnica/DDJT

It's ironic that at its Keynote last week, Apple chose to use DJ software (Algoriddim's excellent djay Pro) to demo the computer's new MacBook Pro Touch Bar, seeing as DJs appear to be abandoning Apple's flagship music program, iTunes, in droves.

What was once the go-to app for organising DJ music libraries is now, frankly, a mess, and judging by what our readers are telling us, they're voting with their feet. Indeed, for the first time ever, we are now - after a lot of deliberation - advising new DJs, or those not particularly committed to it, not to use iTunes at all. Why? Let's take a look.

Why DJs originally flocked to iTunes

Historically, DJ software generally came with file management features that, well, sucked. Meanwhile, when Apple launched the iPod, that device came with an elegant, clean, simple download store and file manager, called iTunes. It worked on PC and Mac, and basically was universally loved.

DJ program makers saw their cue, and built iTunes library viewing into their software. You could download, organise, and prepare your music in iTunes, and open your DJ software to see all your hard work waiting for you. No matter what software you used, it was all there. You could put your DJ playlists in your iPod too, and use them across multiple DJ programs if you liked.

Because iTunes established itself among DJs so universally, over the years we've found ways around its changes, foibles and stumbles. But lately, iTunes has become less and less attractive. Bringing us to today...

Why you should consider stopping using iTunes for your DJ music

itunes

Nice for consumers, maybe, but it's not fit for purpose as a DJ library program any more.

  1. It's become big and bloated - iTunes used to be about music downloads and sync, with iPod, with DJ software, to your phone. Now it's about films, TV programmes, home video, podcasts, audio books, online learning, app management, streaming music... It's become this unwieldy catch-all that baffles most users and has been heading in the wrong direction for years. As a clean, focused music library app, it's now so far from ideal to be almost unusable. You want to do this stuff AND manage your DJ library elegantly? Not easy, not easy at all
  2. Apple is likely to terminate music downloads altogether soon - The writing is on the wall for music downloads as we know them, for sure - it's a question of when, not if. Streaming revenue has overtaken downloads and purchase revenue for the first time ever, and while downloads are still the order of the day for DJs, not for the public. And this is not a DJ program, it's a mainstream program. It's coming (indeed, the rumours of this have started already...), and when it does, do we really think iTunes will survive at all?
  3. iTunes can't handle DJ info very well - You can't view the universally accepted musical key info in ID3 tags in iTunes, so now that all DJ software can analyse key, there's no easy way of sorting by that info back in iTunes. You can't, of course, see cue points, set loops or view waveforms, like Rekordbox, Mixed in Key 8 and Beatport Pro, three would-be contenders in this space. In short, iTunes is slowly but surely becoming a compromise too far for many DJs when it comes to DJ library management
  4. They keep messing with stuff we rely on - In the latest of a long line of irritating tweaks, the good old Rating column has been downgraded, being hidden by default on desktop and disappearing entirely from mobile. It prompted a couple of change.org petitions to get it back. Such changes underline the fact that in a piece of software whose primary purpose is no longer what we DJs use it for, nothing appears to be sacred
  5. Cloud feature and streaming have really messed things up - This has been the final straw for many. After the debacles with some DJs finding themselves locked out of their own files, and others finding their own versions of tracks replaced by other versions when they unwittingly agreed to the terms of iTunes Match, what we're now left with is a program that attempts to blur the divisions between music that's local and owned by the DJ, music that's local but "borrowed" from Apple Music, and music that's streamed on demand from Apple Music itself. All very clever for consumers, but a nightmare for DJs who quite like the idea of using the Apple Music streaming service, but also want to maintain a local library. That just isn't possible in iTunes in any elegant way any more

So is iTunes dead?

To be clear, we still like iTunes in a consumer setting (although we feel Apple should really split apart its various functions, just as it has in iOS), and indeed, we use it for Apple Music quite happily - we just don't keep our local DJ music in iTunes any more. At best, it's become an either/or - which is a problem for those who are encouraged to use it by Apple's systems to do so much more than manage a local music library.

Put it this way: If we'd never seen iTunes, and it appeared now as it is today, would we rush to use it to organise our music? I think not. Yeah, it is "there" in DJ software - always its biggest pull for DJs - but even the manufacturers are turning against it (for example, "when using Serato DJ, third-party programs such as iTunes are not the best and most reliable way to organize your Library" - not my words, but those of the official Serato iTunes documentation).

We've all been living with its increasingly severe compromises for too long. Even as a legacy system it's struggling, but as a way of working for people just starting in DJing? Not in a million years. And that's why we no longer recommend it, at least in the majority of cases, to our students. The library systems in (most) DJ software are getting much better, and meanwhile, iTunes is getting sadly worse.

So what should you do instead?

dropbox

Who'd have thought it? This is a screenshot of a little section of my music library, safely out of iTunes and in Dropbox, where I can access it in all the same places, safely and without fuss.

Right now, our best recommendation is to keep your DJ music in a folder, called, say, "DJ Music". You can use your DJ software's built-in library features for editing tags, adding artwork and so on, or use a specialist ID3 editor instead. You'd then do all your playlisting within your DJ software itself, possible using something like Rekordbuddy to move that info from DJ program to DJ program, either for redundancy's sake or just to keep your options open for DJing.

You lose the ability to easily play your DJ music across your Apple devices, but if you choose to use a service like Dropbox, for instance, you can still keep your music in sync across devices that's exactly how we are doing it now here at Digital DJ Tips HQ. There are Dropbox music players for all mobile devices. That also takes care of your backups.

(Not convinced? See how other real DJs do it here: Five Steps To Your Perfect DJ Music Library System.)

No music preparation or organisation system has ever been perfect, and this one would mean you're only running your DJ software on one computer, with the Dropbox "cloud" element really being a "read only" copy of your music. It will also work better if you keep a nice, simple file naming convention as Dropbox lists tracks by filename, just as your Finder or Windows Explorer does.

The exact way you choose to move forward will depend on your devices, library size, software and preferences. But in our view, iTunes shouldn't be part of that any more, at least for a great number of DJs, and we will no longer teach DJs to use it in this way. If you're still managing, or even still happy using it, we're not here to tell you you're wrong, but at the same time, we can't see things ever improving from the gradual decline we've endured over the past half decade.

So what about that keynote, then?

Here's an interesting footnote. Music is going all-out streaming, I think we can all see that. Apple and Algoriddim (the makers of the djay Pro software featured in the keynote) have tight iTunes-DJ software integration already, tighter than anyone else.

djay pro

djay Pro from Algoriddim was used in the Keynote, and could be the way forward for iTunes DJing.

If those guys can agree to make Apple Music subscription files available directly in djay Pro, then Mac users at least will have a rock solid DJ platform that taps directly into Apple Music, which will be a pretty compelling offering for lots of DJs, and could be the catalyst that moves mainstream DJing from local music to streaming, especially if it allows offline "locker"-type access so there's no need for internet when actually DJing, and jumps through the licensing hurdles.

We have no word if this is coming, but if it does, it'll be big.

So, have you abandoned iTunes like we have? Did you never use it in the first place? Or are you still using it, completely happy with it, and wondering what the fuss is all about? Please share your thoughts in the comments...

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Comments

  1. DJ Vintage says:

    Too think that I only started moving into the iTunes for DJ-ing purposes realm a few years ago, let's say roughly with the first Masterclass.

    iTunes was never my favorite program (I have been quoted as saying it was the worst thing ever to come out of Cupertino), but with expert guidance from Phil and the rest of the DDJT crew I managed to wrestle it into some sort of form that I could use.

    And now we have to move on, yet again ... Add the very real possibility that I have to leave my beloved Mixvibes Cross behind in favor of Serato (no mapping/support for the Denon MCX8000) and I am in DJ heaven, NOT!

    It brings back my plea to have as much info saved with the actual files/tracks and not in proprietary databases (be it DJ Software, iTunes or any other). At least I could easily have my new DJ software read all that info from the tracks rather than having to revert to 3rd party software, which - in my case - won't even work. RekordBuddy does not support Cross as far as I know, so I am up the proverbial stinky creek.

    I think I might just move back to CDs and keep my cue points in my head.

    • What I've had to accept is that the most important thing here are the principles behind why we use the programs/apps etc we do... because when the principles are always there, the software can change and we can still keep what's important in the systems we use.

    • Paul Smith says:

      Hi DJ vintage, I wanted to move from laptop dj'ing was running mixvibes which is brilliant , saw you could copy your current mixevibes playlists over to reckord box for use with pioneer so went with the xdj rx controller, brilliant no looking back. Also copy over playlists from itunes to recordbox or drop files in from hard drive folders / files.....

    • "iTunes was never my favorite program (I have been quoted as saying it was the worst thing ever to come out of Cupertino)"

      Finder makes iTunes look fantastic. Designed in the early 90s and left to rot ever since.

  2. Brian Pennington says:

    This is a really disappointing article, I expected more accurate analysis from this site.

    1. You're right. Starting off on solid ground, although nothing that wasn't news in 2014...

    2. This is just rumor-mongering about "Apply." Even if true, it wouldn't be a good reason to use another application for media management, as you can easily bring music from other services into iTunes just as you could with any music library app that plays MP3s. I do it several times a month.

    3. Key is only important for those of us who use it (I don't and don't ever see that changing, after 15+ years of DJing). Can you set Serato cue points in any of the competitors you mention? If so, that would be a bonus, but I personally just set my cues when I'm DJing, it's not time-consuming or difficult.

    4. This is patently incorrect. You've done a woeful job of researching your point here. Ratings work the same way they ever did, though you might have to make them visible the first time you open up iTunes to see them.

    5. This is a fair point. iTunes Match is terrible, sharing Apple Music downloads with your own music is a bad idea unless perfectly executed, and they didn't. But you can easily opt out of either feature.

    iTunes is a mess, no one would disagree with that. One thing I've always loved about being a Serato DJ though, is that I can do my gig prep and my music collecting and listening with the same tool–iTunes. For some time that tool has tottered and suffered neglect, but it still works. I have tried literally every other option, some twice, and no consumer product has quite the same feature set. It's well and good to tell me I should stop using it, but it continues to be perfectly serviceable, and more user friendly than most DJ software. I would be truly happy to find a real replacement, but it just doesn't seem like a priority for anyone to create right now the way streaming has taken off.

    • Thanks for your feedback Brian. The ratings thing, as I stated, is a symbolic one really, indicating the rate to which stuff DJs rely upon - albeit often "hacked" (I wonder how long we'll be able to rely on "grouping" for instance, for our tagging?) - can change in iTunes.

      The issue specifically with rating is that those of us who used to rate tracks "on the go" via iOS no longer can (I'd love someone to prove me wrong here). Sorry if I didn't make that bit clear.

      • Jason Butler says:

        You can still rate on iOS devices, although not natively through the music app. Here are the ways I know of

        1. Siri can still rate your song. "Rate this song a 4." Problem here is to tell Siri the music must pause and you have to talk to your phone, not too convenient.

        2. There are other music player apps, Marvis and Ecoute are two that let you rate.

        3. The is an app called music rating widget which installs a widget and is pretty convenient just swipe right from the lock screen and you can rate your song right there.

      • Star ratings are returning in iOS 10.2 but until then you can use Jason's suggestions.

  3. Jason Dunham says:

    So most of the time I really feel you nail it Phil....but this time I have to disagree with you.

    As a multiformat mostly Wedding DJ with a large music Library I find iTunes to be invaluable, and really saved my bacon last year when SDJ stopped working for me....out of the blue without any fix available for 10 months.
    Since my 100ish Playlists (and all the work-time associated) were in iTunes I was able to immediately use Rekordbox and of course DJay, both of which have tremendous value in our industry.

    Redundancy - I can go to an event with a Pioneer DDJ-SR or SX2, I can have all playlists on both MBP's, iPad, and iPhone. Further I can play SDJ, Rekordbox, or DJay natively on both controllers....

    Equipment or software failure is not an option at events when you are booking over $2K and iTunes is the only management software that ensures that I will have visibility across all equipment/software platforms.

    Name 1 Pro level DJ App that doesn't have iTunes playlist visibility.
    I understand your critique reg. Match, Streaming, Bloat (other media types), but if those services bother you as a DJ don't use them....or have a separate non-DJ box for that stuff!

    I have my music libraries on External SSD's and they backup automatically through time capsule, and are available online should i need them on my network connected drive.

    My strong recommendation is that folks look into the Spotify pro and DJay Apps and their integration if they want to dramatically streamline their event prep. Imagine having your clients share their requests as Spotify playlists with you....safe for offline use, event prep done.

    To Sum up, I have NEVER regretted using iTunes. It has never caused me any issues, and has saved me more than once. iTunes is more than a music management system it is the media 'pillar' of the apple ecosystem, and has been integrated into the MAC platform and App development as such.

    • I hear you, you're very well organised and as prepared as any of us can be for whatever the hell iTunes throws at us next. But I fear for you too... all I'd say is try and think through a plan B just in case some feature you truly rely on disappears without notice, or something else changes that blows everything out of the water for you. This stuff is hard to say as someone who's used the program for 10 years too, but I feel massively safer away from it.

  4. I'm kinda on the fence as well here. I never had the "oh my god they changed this" reaction to iTunes updates - I simply adapted. The lack of proper tagging and removal of ratings is a serious deal breaker for me though.

    I agree with Jason above though, iTunes is still great as a go between until we get something better.
    RD
    (Grammer Natzi Alert - Second point reads as "Apply" instead of "Apple".)

  5. This is why I never used iTunes. As a Windows person who transitioned to a macbook for my dj rig after a few years, I was never an iTunes believer and always stuck with my separate and redundant workflow where I host a dj song folder on my windows desktop that I use freefilesync to duplicate on my mbp along with external backup drives (stashed everywhere from my mom's house in Ohio to my car glove compartment). For tagging I run my tracks through Mixed in Key (probably not as important as I don't find myself making playlists anymore) before editing tags, info and even transcoding files (wav to .m4a for instance) within the paid version of Mead Monkey that I've faithfully used for a decade as my music player in Windows.

  6. Since the major part of my complete music collection (about 30.000 titles) are in FLAC/WAV format, iTunes was never an option for me. I use MediaMonkey on PC which is really flexible, fast and reliable. But I have lately heard some very good things about RekordBuddy to organize one's DJ Collection, waiting for the PC Version to try that one.

  7. Jason Dunham says:

    Sorry I should also have mentioned that I run all tracks through MIK (mixed in key) to analyze Key/Energy and I use Rekordbuddy 2 to bring my SDJ cues over into Rekordbox....

    Camelot Key, BPM, and Energy Level all migrate into and are available/sortable in iTunes as BPM, Comments and Grouping columns.

  8. Kenny Schachat says:

    I use iTunes as a standalone music library management tool because I think it's wise to have that option *independent* of the DJ software that I'm current using, for the obvious reason that I want a central, stable library in case I move to a different DJ software program. For the record, I also have my all of my DJ music rigorously organized in folders on my drives.

    The Music Library is the ONLY feature of iTunes that I use: I never download music from iTunes (I use other DJ download services) and never Sync, or watch videos, etc.. Via the creative use of the various non-music iTunes fields (ex. Show, Sort Show, etc.) and esp. the Smart Playlists, I can solve all of my database needs. I use Windows and iTunes is the only Apple product that I use.

    I also do not rely on the ability of Traktor to directly read iTunes playlists. Yes, I'm duplicating some tasks manually in Tunes and Traktor. iTunes has been very stable and but it's of ultimate importance to me to have an music library that I can count on that's INDEPENDENT of the DJ software that I use. I also think that it's more likely that iTunes will be around for many years than programs like Rekordbox or Media Monkey. Also, I pay attention to the iTunes upgrades and I've reached a point where I probably won't upgrade at all. I simply decline every upgrade "offer". Also, I've never used the iTunes Rating feature, either.

    I love whizzy new tech as much as anyone. However, while DJing via direct streaming just sounds like a fun way to while away some time at home, I have NO intention of ever relying on streaming for a live DJ gig. I don't want to be the subject of the inevitable parade of Youtube EPIC DJ FAIL videos when the streaming dies at the peak of a set ;-).

    • You're doing it all right Kenny, and indeed they way you're doing it is the way I'd recommend for anyone who stays with it. Trouble is, for people in the Apple ecosystem, iTunes is becoming so engrained in other aspects of media use, that barring running completely separate libraries (and even that can't protect agains features changing or disappearing), I just don't see how it can be relied on any more.

      Just to correct something about streaming, it will only ever work with offline "lockers" so not relying on the internet in a performance. this tech already exists (Pulselocker, for instance).

      • Kenny Schachat says:

        Your point re: the Apple ecosystem are well taken, Phil.

        Re: streaming, I guess I interpreted as live Internet streaming. Clearly, if something has been downloaded and available offline, that's a different proposition. Is there a big advantage between that and just buying the track and downloading it?

        • Nah, I guess for mobile DJs it's good for those requests (a list from the bride...) or stuff you think you'll only play once (hurray! I've been booked for a 70s theme night...). I see offline "lockers" for music obtained on subscription as something that'll become the norm though, even for DJs.

    • Cédric Gyselinck says:

      Hi Kenny,
      While reading your comment, I thought you just solved my lack of tags issue: "Via the creative use of the various non-music iTunes fields (ex. Show, Sort Show, etc.)". I thought this was the way to add a few more tags like "energy". But I cannot see these these fields when I get file info in iTunes. How do you display these?
      Thanks :-)

      • Kenny Schachat says:

        Hi Cedric,
        > But I cannot see these these fields when I get file info in iTunes. How do you display these?<

        In iTunes List View, right-click (or the Mac equivalent) on any one of the column headings (ex. Artist, Name, Time, etc.) and you'll see a list of all the possible fields. Check the ones that you want to be displayed in List View. Newly added fields/columns will be added to right so you may have to scroll all the way over to see them. You can drag any column to change it's position.

        All of the fields are always available in the Get Info view for any track, even if they are not displayed in the List view. I use the Get Info view for entering and editing all of the fields.
        Hope this helps.

  9. Bill Greenberg says:

    I've been using iTunes Match for years now with pretty good success. Yeah, it has screwed up some of my songs on occasion but the benefits outweigh the negatives for me. I use Traktor for my semi-pro DJing as well as house parties.

    iTunes Match is the glue that syncs everything between 3 computers, iPhone and iPad. I use a couple different apps on iPhone and iPad depending on what I need to accomplish (whether actually DJing or just playing jukebox to provide some background music for a friend's house party.)

    Music acquisition, sorting, etc happens on my primary office desktop, then syncs everywhere via iTunes Match. Without iTunes Match keeping everything in sync it would be much more difficult. Having the playlists available everywhere is hugely helpful, from my desktop where music comes in to my laptop where I DJ to my other desktop in my cabin where I may throw a party to my iPhone on my motorcycle or running and my iPad where I can also play music. If there were any other way to sync everything I'd be all over it but for now it's still just iTunes and iTunes Match for me.

    • If you can accept those compromises Bill, I can see how the convenience is alluring. I suspect the "screwing up songs on occasion" bit would put many off though, and indeed its what scared me off iTunes Match having experienced it first hand.

      • Bill Greenberg says:

        I just can't get past the convenience. And there are always more songs to play if something goes wrong with one. The worst problem was when "Forget You" got replaced with the more fun "F*** You" version, which I found out after I started playing it (in a venue where I would have rathered play the clean version)! Oops. Not sure how many people actually noticed it or cared.

  10. Jeremy Ryan says:
  11. Matt Sears says:

    Question: do any of The Big Four DJ apps actually sort/move/rename your files for you, based on the Tags, in the same way that iTunes and Mediamonkey (and others, I expect) do?

  12. Cary Charles says:

    So let's assume that DJ's (like myself) would like to "wean" themselves from iTunes. What do you do with the tracks that you already purchased from the iTunes store? There are many alternatives for ripping CD's and vinyl but will playback support be pulled for downloads? We we have to burn CD's and re-rip to another folder. Sounds like a can of worms to me.

  13. It would be great if iTunes had the option to start up in a 'simple' mode that was a stripped-down version just for music organization and syncing with players/DJ software.

  14. Anthony Lewis says:

    So what would be the workflow for me to move my files to a folder system? I use Rekordbox and Itunes and when I move the files, how do I point Rekordbox to their new location?

  15. Good to see Phil that our writing paths cross again years after :)
    Mine takes long lapses usually and this time, there are extra signs out there supporting your advice here.
    For instance, the recent announcement that Apple is going to get rid of the 3,5" mini-plug connector.
    As discussed at a high level Audio engineers' email list; there is no functional reason for that move and everything points
    to future walled garden closure measures, particularly controlling what is played through that last barrier (the audio connector).
    Which fits very well with your explanation that music streaming will be increasingly enforced.
    I agree with your iTunes analysis and hope those DJs here with everything-sorted-around-iTunes move fast, or at least new ones don't fall into the limiting trap.

    ///Personally have been buying physical CDs for long, apart from the sound quality one extra reason is something that big firms know well; the fact that long term media retrieval at the hands of the user has not yet found a definitive solution.
    Hard disks put on storage off-grid do fail (rotating mechanism get clogged). SSDs are even feebler and in case of TLC memory ones (the cheapest and more widely adopted) may need to be replugged each 6 months or their data gets corrupted. Most companies and institutions, by intent or default, are resting on recurrent migration of data or the adoption of cloud services.

    But for us DJs that intent to keep our music, our remixes, effect files, etc. most probably for decades, instead of buy it again several times, (something that cannot be done with our created/produced music), almost no surefire alternatives exist rather than optical retrieval.
    This is a large scale problem yet to be tackled; what will happen with 10, 20 or more years of family pictures? or any of your treasured data?
    I am holding to CDs and soon Blue-ray recorded backups, since DVD is the worst of the optical alternatives, longevity wise. Yes, this is the least convenient way, but is the most reliable base. Also consider that in professional circles it is always advised to keep several copies at different locations off-grid, never locked in proprietary formats and be careful with encription use. An intermediate solution is the use of synchronized NAS systems, convenient for on the road and for fast, professional access, but there are extra risks in this (Including malware, ransomware, etc).

    • Pardon the rather off-topic extension in the comment above, just thought that widening the perspective could help to choose in such pivotal decision as music organization.

  16. Something for folks to consider if they think this warning may be a bit extreme. Apple have form in the area of simply dumping software [or hardware] support if they decide to move on. Aperture was used by many pro photographers and yet Apple simply dumped it and moved to a very amateur programme with no way of moving prior work across.
    Apple basically have zero interest in maintaining legacy for anything and why I try to avoid their software as much as I can. Despite looking for something better than iTunes for a long time, it has have proved a bust as I use smart playlists a huge amount. So I have been stuck with the bloated and increasingly difficult to use iTunes. Smart playlists is something missing from most alternatives, the ones that do are severely lacking in other areas. Microsoft may have their faults but they are very good at trying to maintain backwards compatibility.
    This dumbing down of iTunes and various other crappy moves, along with the lame pro offerings for hardware are making many folk on the Pro photography forums I use ask about or declare their new laptop is going to be a Windows one. I may well be one of them as moving back to Windows looks more and more likely.

  17. Helium Music manager was a programme I used to use before I moved to OSX. Sadly it is PC only, as even those many years back when I was still using XP it was better than iTunes. Rarely gets mentioned in DJ circles though because of iTunes being the default go to programme.

    http://www.helium-music-manager.com/

  18. Frederic Ward says:

    Reason #6: It's iTunes.

  19. I've never liked iTunes, so this isn't a surprise to me at all. I refuse to let an application tell me what I can and cannot do with my own files and when iTunes takes over, it's a real nightmare. I know manual management of files is a pain, but it's better than some application telling me "nope, you don't get to play this song because I've determined it's an illegal/corrupt copy." I get MP3 files from bands pretty often, and when I can't play a tune from them because some jerk at Apple didn't sign off on it, I can't play the song. I'm still cultivating my music in a Windows environment, because I can do most of what I need right there in the Explorer window, and what I can't do there, I can do in MP3Tag.

    I'm not going to buy a song to play in front of an audience on the spot, partly because I don't know where I should pull off my transitions/effects, partly because I don't trust anything I haven't heard play through already (yes, I've bought and ripped tracks from CD that didn't play back well), but mostly because I am not going to impulse buy something that I don't get to keep.

    There may be a whole generation of people coming up as DJs who own nothing, come in with minimal equipment, and are totally fine with renting tracks on the fly, but that's not me (or anyone I know. Most of the people I know don't make more than $40 a night because their gig is a small venue, and the bar/club doesn't pay more than that.

  20. Matt Prince says:

    I have just ditched iTunes and at some point in the future will be ditching the mac as I don't like the decisions Apple are making and their insatiable greed. I want all my music stored on a hard drive (that is backed up twice) in the format of ARTIST - SONG - MIX so that it's easily searchable and easy to find music when I'm not djing for instance. I have Mixed in key 8 and use Rekordbox DJ with a DDJRB and am in need of a good (free if possible) id3 tag editor to change the file names of my music. When I have done that I would import to MIK and then to Rekordbox once the key and energy has been calculated. Any recommendations for a decent id3 tag editor for mac?

    Matt

  21. Then if not iTunes, what are the alternatives?

  22. Tricky Mouse says:

    You can still (somewhat) rate tracks in the iOS app using Siri, ie 'Siri, rate this track four stars', but it is convoluted and annoying. That being said, I've loathed iTunes for years...

  23. iTunes messed up my library a few years ago and I stopped using it. I just organize in Serato for better or worse. Serato is not a great tool for editing tags, would welcome a better workflow.

  24. I've had my Serato crates file "corrupted" one too many times when updating OS or upgrading hardware to trust my crates to Serato alone.

    My iTunes library has survived multiple hard drives and OSs for over a decade now. I can't see myself abandoning iTunes just yet. The file management alone, provided by the app is irreplaceable at this current point in time. Also, with creative use of shortcut files, I have my entire iTunes library in my dropbox and share it with 2 user accounts on one machine, as well as a desktop. (The 2nd user and desktop are "read only" I only use my DJ user account to add tracks and make edits.)

    It's possible to relatively closely mimic the library view of 3+ years ago by adjusting the settings. I wish there was a setting to have playlists display as "tracks" which returns the various columns. The lack of Key-sorting is good point, but I've generally only concerned myself with the key inside Serato and normally program based on a song's genre and bpm. Another feature that I can't live without is autocomplete of tag values. I use a rather involved genre tagging system and being able to have iTunes suggest genres once I start typing is a great time saver that helps to eliminate redundant genres with slight variations in spelling or arrangement of the "sub genres" (e.g. Hip Hop - Classic, Hip Hop - West Coast, Hip Hop - Reggae - Classic, etc)

    I dodged the iTunes match bullet partially through being cautious when watching it's premier at an Apple event, and my skepticism was confirmed by a warning posted here on DDJT. I also never got into using iTunes fro anything but music, (even the podcasts delete after play through) so my experience with the software is still very responsive.

  25. So there you are Phil from the most outspoken man to promote iTunes, even in your recent book just a couple of weeks ago, to a person who talks about Dropbox of all choices there are. Apart from the fact that in this era of internet and cloud computing where things change every minute, nothing stays the same for a year, you come up with a solution which in my opinion is not a step forward.

    Please try to offer your readers and dj's alike an alternative that makes sense and tell them how to make a change like this safe and quick. I hope you write some extra pages for your book and make it available as a DLC for everyone.

    I know things are changing and you always have to be alert as a professional. But this is from white to black in seconds, leaving your trusty followers in the dark.

    Well I still believe DDJT is a great product, but be careful not to lose your credibility. It's easy to think that there are other reasons in play for carpet bombing iTunes like that. And it's not because I love iTunes. I use Mik8, BeaTunes and Serato playlisting as well to get the best out of my library.

    • Thanks for your feedback, Djeen.

      My book actually offers underlying principles and discusses doing it both ways (with or without iTunes). Here's the passage from the book (http://djtips.co/book2016) that discusses iTunes:

      Most DJs use iTunes to store, tag and organise their music. You can set it up to add new music to its own Music folder automatically, meaning you can then safely remove new tracks from anywhere else on your computer.

      It’s not a perfect piece of software for DJs, but nonetheless they use it because they always have (it was the original digital music library, of course). It is a familiar way of handling a digital music collection, it has powerful playlist features, and it makes it easy to put music from iTunes on to an iPod, iPhone or iPad for listening to elsewhere. It is also unique in that its collection is visible within all DJ software, so all your iTunes playlists will be available to you to play from in any DJ software without any extra work on your part, even if you switch software platforms at some point.

      If you’re going to use iTunes, due to its increasing complexity and the amalgamation of the Apple Music streaming service within it, we recommend you use it only for your DJ music, keeping family videos, podcasts, and non-DJ music away from it, and turning off iTunes Match, iCloud or similar features. If you do want to use it for all these things too, be clear about how you’re going to keep your DJ music separate from all that other stuff.

      If you don’t want to use iTunes, that’s fine. Take the principles here and apply them to your choice of workflow. You’ll probably want a good ID3 tag editor to let you tweak the artist, title, artwork, and so on, and as far as organising the music goes, you can do so in any DJ software directly, although none has the power of iTunes for this. The important thing, though, is to absorb these principles and find something that works for you.

      The fact is that no matter what I think, more than half of our audience still uses iTunes to organise their libraries (we know from our 10,000-strong Census data), and as long as they are being careful to protect themselves against the increasingly big changes going on in that piece of software, there's nothing stopping them continuing. But what we also know is that it is causing huge problems for new DJs, which is why we no longer recommend it as "the" solution. The changes in macOS recently pushed our thinking over the edge (believe it or not, far from being written a couple of weeks ago, the book's text was submitted to the publishers back in February).

      I do see how it could appear to be "from white to black", but actually, our teaching has remained pretty consistent on this - our aim is to ensure that DJs understand the principles behind this, arming them to be able to do it using any number of tools.

      • Thank you for answering my question and remarks. I'd like to add that iCloud (not iTunes Match) and One Drive or solid in both ecosystems (Mac and Windows) and give you the same as Dropbox. The last one, just like Spotify and many other apps still make no profit and have a high risk of stopping their services. Also I forgot to say that a lot of software companies including Apple have a habit off changing things without a decent piece off text what they change. And the chance that the new release has issues or errors should make DJ's reluctant to be a first adopter. Wait till all the bugs are gone and search the internet for known problems. Thank you again.

  26. Walter White says:

    ive been telling my dj students to stay the hell away from iTunes for 5 years. glad you guys finally figured it out. the "Keep iTunes media folder organized" and "Copy ITunes media folder when adding to library" are the two dumbest product features in the history of computer software. those two check boxes have ruined and disorganized more dj libraries then any other software feature ever. Organize subfolders by artist... Jesus... idiots. What person organizes by artist? So So Stupid. iTunes is the illusion of organization!! HORRIBLE SOFTWARE PACKAGE!!

  27. Shane Nugent says:

    You seem to think that one day everything will go black and streaming will take over all music listening and abandon mp3 downloads.
    Even if mp3 downloading is shut down altogether then what happens about all the local content that most people like to have on their pc, mac or laptop?
    I use deezer and Amazon music streaming and they are great but nothing will make me stop using my local content with its rare albums which aren't available on the streaming sites.
    Apple would have to allow people to access, organise and play this locally stored music for those that have large volumes of albums.
    If they did take away the music manager altogether from iTunes then it wouldn't be just DJs who would abandon the software, millions of non DJs would as well.

    I know what you mean about iTunes, I've never really liked it and I only use it for the smart playlists and the universal aspect of accessing playlists in dj software.
    Really i want a genius to create an alternative which would have everything there in one place and built from the ground up by DJs for DJs, something like Winamp but with waveforms, cue points and id3 tagging built in.

    • Well nobody has a crystal ball Shane, not even me 😉

      I don't think local music will disappear, in the same way Kinde hasn't killed books and digital didn't kill vinyl. But I wouldn't be surprised to see the iTunes store for music close, and that would put local music in iTunes on a weaker footing. Apple may well spin off a niche "local music" app, or even leave it to third parties.

      The point of this article is to discuss the likelihood iTunes will continue to present a workable music library solution for DJs, ultimately - which we think it won't...

      • Mike Stryk says:

        I understand the principle of both books and mp3s, but here in Sussex if you tried to stream music at even a quarter of venues, you'd fail miserably at getting the required signal or even wi fi bandwidth to do so.

        There will have to be some big changes if such a thing is ever going to be normal

        • We need a new word for streaming music. Maybe, "rented music". Because what you get is an offline "locker" within your DJ software where you hold your chosen tracks from the streaming service. thus you don't need wifi or anything else to play them in a venue - it's just the same as music you own. The difference is that if you stop paying your $10, $20 or whatever a month, they disappear.

  28. I've never used iTunes for DJ work, and very rarely even for consumer music listening.. It's absolute garbage. As a PC and FLAC person who has always preferred the manual approach, I rip my cds to hard drive, organise my music in folders and sub-folders (there's one big folder for my DJ music), and all of my music management and mass-tagging is handled by MediaMonkey. It's an amazing piece of software for organising my music, perfectly fixing it up for Traktor to play at gigs. Who the hell needs excessive hand-holding and losing control to Apple and their crap iTunes software? As far as I'm concerned, it's MediaMonkey all the way. An infinitely superior piece of music management software, in my opinion.

  29. Mike Stryk says:

    I've always thought itunes was the most un-user friendly piece of software I ever came accross. I only have one Apple device - an 80 gig ipod and deleting tunes from it via itunes seems all but impossible. I uncheck them and after connecting and going through the process guess what? They are still there. It's such a drag, I hardly ever connect it to the computer.

    I've seen the news over the years and i've always thought of Apple as a somewhat ruthless and money grabbing company, paying low prices for foriegn slave workers to build their products and charging monopoly money to their customers at the otherr end, not to mention skimping on tax payment, but hey, each to their own

    I have used OTS AV for many years now as part of my system and though It's no good for manually deejaying, the track and genre indexing together with mix in key is second to none that i've seen. Every gig i've got those two runnning on the laptop for searching (and back up) and my DDS for the actual mixing and playing.

    The DDS isn't the best in the world for mixing, but it comes with a keyboard for searching and using linux It's rock-solid reliable.

    All in all, i watch these other systems come and go and i've still not seen anything to rush out and replace my current set up.

  30. Mike Stryk: DDS? Sorry, I'm having a senior moment here, and blanking on this acronym. What exactly is a DDS? I've never used OTS AV, so can't comment on that.
    I totally agree with your comments about Apple being a ruthless, corrupt, money-grabbing company. I dislike their business practices intensely. Add to that fact the dislike I have for iTunes and Apple's products in general, and I simply will never support them in any way. Microsoft aren't much better, although I am stuck with Windows on my laptop for now, until I pick up a second ThinkPad from somewhere solely to run Linux. I'm not a fan of dual-booting. One computer, one OS for me.
    I've only been digital DeeJaying for a relatively short while (I'm a strictly old school DJ of 30+ years, since around 1979), and, for now, I'm still using Traktor and VDJ under Windows 7, depending on which controller I have on the road (Native Instruments controllers = Traktor, anything else = VDJ). My ultimate aim is to abandon big corporations and proprietary systems altogether and go with Mixxx on Linux and maybe a Denon MC6000Mk2 controller for my gigs, with a couple of cd players and a wallet of cds as backup.
    I totally agree with your comments about Linux being stable. Add to that my almost obsessive desire to break away from proprietary crap and being at the mercy of nasty big corporations, and Linux is definitely a natural fit for me. Linux on a laptop with ONLY Mixxx and my music, with no internet connection, no other software on the computer or anti-virus or other crap running in the background, should provide optimum stability for gigs. Soak test the rig for weeks in advance, for hours and hours every day, to make sure it runs flawlessly without any hiccups, and I'll feel comfortable running it at gigs. At the moment I'm having issues with the new version of Mixxx (v2.0) freezing on my Windows 7 laptop - I don't know if it's the software or the laptop - but, as I said, I haven't been able to test it under Linux yet, as I haven't got a Linux laptop right now. Maybe I won't have issues with it on Linux.
    I've seen so many DJs have really bad experiences with laptops going la-la and packing in on them at gigs, but when they're using Apple or Microsoft OSes with so much crud running in the background and internet connections wide open, what do they expect? It's no wonder their systems are unstable and unreliable. Using your laptop as both your DJ tool and a consumer laptop is bad, bad, BAD.

  31. Dustin Pearce says:

    I have been djing for the past 3 years using the Spotify + Algoriddim combo and it works fantastic. Prior to that I did years of djing thru iTunes and procured songs from limewire etc with much success as well. I'd have to say at this point I use Spotify for up to 90% of my gigs and fall back on a handful of songs I 'own' from iTunes et al. Spotify is straight forward and easy to use. It also has a 'match' function that comes in handy from time to time when you're playing say, an obscure track and aren't really sure where to go next. The match feature will give you several close matches from that genre/style plus an acceptable BPM range so theyre actually mixable. I couldn't be happier to hear that Apple is in bed with Algoriddim because it tells me that if they continue to merge it's going to make this Algoriddim dj original user very happy down the line.
    Algoriddim + Spotify never seems to get nearly enough credit for the services they provide. I never have problems with connectivity or live streaming songs. If when a venue (barn wedding) doesn't have a wifi connection I can always hotspot off of my phone for data use. Hardcore purists will all think it's wishy washy not having concrete songs to own or having to rely on internet 'service' for gigs but I can tell you first hand that it works seamlessly from outdoor events to arenas to house parties to banquet halls to barns! I recently dj'd a Dilwali party and the number of Indian songs the host wanted played were all easily located in Spotify (and analyzed) well in advance of the party. Not to mention on the spot Indian requests were all accommodated.
    I'm only adding my two cents because it seems of all of the options outside of iTunes, the algoriddim/Spotify avenue was getting very little mention.
    Thanks everybody.

  32. Pete Lindemann says:

    Hi Phil
    Using a Reloop TM8 with Serato and a windows Laptop . Not a great fan of iTunes for my music /dj libraries .
    Just wondering what alternatives would you recommend
    Thanks for your help
    Pete

  33. David Gabriel says:

    Hi, I stil use Itunes for buying rock music because I need them for the beginning of my sets. I still use Itunes Playlists for my Traktor Setup and I never found another way of doing it, but I'm opened for any sugestions. :)

    in my opinion iTunes it's still a place to buy songs and organized them in playlists.

    • I'm all for buying music but at 256kbps ? is it worth it ? I'd only buy now if its flac or at the very least(cant find it in flac/wav) 320kbps. Or vinyl. Cds are pretty much fire kindling =(

  34. Stanford Lindsey says:

    The main reason I use iTunes is for the smart playlist feature. It took some time getting all of my music tagged with the correct genre and year of release but now creating playlist takes no time at all. I just pick the genre and the years that I want and it’s done. The smart playlist are visible in iTunes, Serato, and Algoriddim djay. The smart playlist also have a live update feature so whenever you add new music your smart playlist will be updated automatically if it matches the criteria. So my playlist are with me no matter where I am or what I’m doing. Just listening on my iPhone, using the djay app on my iPad, or Serato DJ on my Macbook Pro.

  35. Jamus Wood says:

    Hello Everyone. I have a question. If I am to leave iTunes sometime soon, I am going to miss smart play lists. Phil you mentioned some other programs using smart play list. What are they. I am on OSX running Traktor and mixed in Key and rely on smart play lists to find my songs quickly. Any help appreciated. Thanks

  36. What Phil says about dumping all of your music in a single folder - that's how I do it, except I tag everything with MediaMonkey and use the DJ software solely for playback.

  37. I feel as though I'm screwed. I've disliked itunes for a while. Mines been slow.
    But I have over 60,000 tracks and tons of playlists (under genres, moods, etc)
    Not only that but the way itunes have my music folder'd it's hard to imagine me re-doing it in a better way quickly.
    Also I have no idea how I would be able to move my playlists ? I can't build them again, it would take me a months/years lol. I'm just scared now that i'll eventually lose everything.
    What's annoying me lately is I seem to be losing features that I liked like being able to search a playlist instead of my whole library. I've spent so much time having everything in it's place. ugh

  38. Bit late to the party, but have a question for anyone who fell into the 'let iTunes organise your music' hole. Is anyone aware of an automated way of de-layering the complex folder structure this creates and extracting just the music files (so they can be filed into a single folder for transfer)?

  39. I politely disagree for now. I organize everything in iTunes through smart playlists for my general library, and "pack carts" with regular playlists when I go gig. I don't use the grouping column, only the comments. As an interesting note, due to the size of my laptop screen, I've taken steps to take the most advantage of my Traktor browser real estate. I don't show the artist column (since it shows the title/artist at the bottom of the browser when highlighted. I also used MiK to change the title of my songs to place the key and bpm in front of the title - this had a two-fold effect. One, I don't need the BPM and Key columns in Traktor, or iTunes. Two, just by organizing this list of music by name, it's automatically sorted by key and then BPM - this is something I've always wanted out of Traktor (To be able to sort by key, AND THEN bpm). Sure - I bet "some" of the tracks may not be correct key-wise... but for me I haven't noticed anything glaring enough that I need to fix it. I used to get frustrated trying to determine who was right between MiK or Traktor, but now I've just put my trust in MiK and I'm now much happier.

    I realize I just went down a rabbit hole there - sorry about that, but for now, I have no major issues with iTunes - at least not major enough I can't work around that's forcing me to look elsewhere. I hadn't noticed the removal of star ratings... assumingly because I haven't upgraded yet.

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