The Baseball Desert

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Apple of my i (Part 2)

It's not just the player, either - it's all that surrounds it, beginning with iTunes. I've used other software to organise my digital music before, but none seems to be as efficient as iTunes. Like the iPod, it does exactly what you want it to do - organises the music, lets you make your own playlists - and adds in some bells and whistles (displaying album art as if you were browsing your CD collection, smart playlists) which are actually quite funky.

Above and beyond the organisation of my own music, I've come to discover what's behind the other doors that iTunes opens. Unfortunately, one of the doors it opens - with apologies to Nancy, who wanted me to help her in her quest for a Christmas present - is the one that leads to the pathway of pure evil known as the iTunes store. My favourite iPod evangelist Sheila said it well:
It is like crack.


I feel like I am not responsible enough to deal with iTunes. I feel like I need to have some outside authority limit what I am able to do on iTunes. Like: Oops, Sheila has overstayed her welcome ... she is now cut off until next month. I feel like one of those mindless drones pouring their welfare checks into the slot machines. 10 minutes go by and I could spend 200 bucks. 99 cents a song?? That's NOTHING!! Click, click, click, click ... 50 songs later ...
It's too easy, it really is, especially for someone who listens to a genre that you can't find in your local record store (please step forward, Paris's foremost British hillbilly, redneck, Red Sox fan ;-)). How many times have I heard something on an Internet radio station, only to find myself looking it up in the iTunes store and downloading it onto my iPod before I've even had time to think about it? I'll tell you how many times: too many.

The upside is that the iTunes is a perfect complement to the iPod feature that everyone raves about: the shuffle feature. Just as the shuffle feature on the player drags up songs you haven't listened to for ages - in fact, songs you'd sometimes forgotten you even had - so the iTunes store allows you to purchase other long-forgotten songs within a matter of seconds. (Not everything is available in the store, but there's enough stuff there to make it interesting). Outside of regular purchases, I tend to use the store in binge-drinking fashion - I'll suddenly get a nostalgic craving for a particular song (Enola Gay, by OMD), which will have a natural association (in my head, at least) with another (The Smiths' What Difference Does It Make?) and another (Going Underground by The Jam) and before you know it, I've got a thirty-song 'Memories of the 80's' playlist downloaded onto the iPod.

As it says on wine bottles here in France: à consommer avec modération.