“But many people say they are leaving iTunes simply because it isn’t that easy to use.

via With Downloads In Decline, Can iTunes Adapt? : The Record : NPR.

 

It’s not typical to start the day with a news story about usability, but heard this one today. The rest of the story was about streaming overtaking digital sales, which isn’t really news either.

It was interesting to hear the popular press mention something I’ve felt for years, it’s like using Excel to manage your music.  Plus, it’s bloated, hijacks your music library, and doesn’t really work well with Windows. I haven’t used it since my 3GS broke a year ago, and haven’t missed it.

The late, un-lamented Zune was actually my favorite — it was very cool to watch the visualizations on the desktop version as music played. The Artist – Album – Song 3-pane model worked well, including multi-select for playlists and sync.

I’ve been a Spotify pro subscriber for over a year now, and I’d also mention it’s usability leaves much to be desired. I’m often confused by its search results algorithm (quick example: search for Neil Young’s ‘Trans Am’ and it’s not on the song grid, Trans-Siberian Orchestra shows up, and you can’t click table column headers to sort). It’s still pretty spreadsheety… but it’s the functionality that keeps me subscribed. What really hooked me with Spotify is ability to download ‘offline’ to my mobile so I’m not tied to a broadband connection.

The experience of ‘owning’ music vs. ‘renting’, unfortunately for musicians, is probably on the decline, like DVD sales since Netflix.  The ability to search for nearly any song, album, or artist and get instant gratification is astounding (probably could do it on YouTube/Google as well, but I am paying my .0002 cents back to the artist). I think where the working musicians (who aren’t Taylor Swift) will make their money will be touring and selling souvenirs at the show. You can’t autograph a stream.

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