Mace Slipup is what you get if you rearrange the letters of Apple Music, and that’s just about what it feels like to use it too, sometimes. Burning, itching and meant to save your life but instead making it messier.
I will admit to being a late convert to the benefits of listen-to-anything-at-anytime-without-playing-the-DMCA-“no-Copyright-intended“-YouTube-lottery. Spotify is headquartered not too far from where I live, but I have tried to avoid streaming services in general and ones owned by labels in particular.
It is fun, convenient and still gives me a bit of the sense of living in the future (or, as some would have it, in 2011) where nearly everything is available in a celestial jukebox. And then it turns out that this is still something 1. somewhat hastily thrown together by people who 2. build iTunes, 3. have forgotten most user interface usability principles and 4. under the auspices of people who are artists but not kept in check. Apologies in advance to anyone in the Apple Music team who reads this and had to butt heads just to get it to the point it is right now.
People normally sold on more or less everything Apple – people, indeed, through which Apple leak their event preannouncements – have tried and simply given up. The thing eats people’s files. I keep backups and I avoid turning on iCloud Music Library, so I thought I was safe, but in the year I’ve been using it, it’s been pulling down duplicates of things I bought on iTunes ages ago and inserting them as new entries at the top of my library (sorted descended by Date Added). On iOS, it has “very helpfully” restored some ugly-as-fuck album art that I “Got Info” on ages ago and deleted the album art from. And just a few days ago, it seems to have re-checked a bunch of albums and songs that I for various reasons have unchecked through the ages. (Every song in iTunes has a checkbox, and if you uncheck it it won’t be played unless you manually start playing it. If iTunes is to Winamp/VLC what Excel is to TextEdit/Notepad, imagine silent data loss in the form of formatting, value or formula changes in spreadsheets. Heads would roll.)
Volumes have been written on iTunes’ steady decline. The only reason I persist in using it is because it’s still mostly the good jukebox app and acceptable podcast player it’s been for years. But if it’s news to anyone inside Apple at this point that the moss of complexity and mounting demands to become a fridge—freezer—toaster—shower—18–wheeler–balance—ice–dispenser has eaten the app and shit out the slow-loading, rotund 302 MB memory hog currently in my Applications folder, a pink slip should be contemplated, and the phrase Reality Distortion Field could find new relevance.
Someone needs to sit down and note the 40 or so good ideas about iTunes and build it over again from the ground up. Someone needs to smoothly extend it to where it can also play music from Apple Music and the iTunes Store (with “Buy to keep” buttons on all songs where licensing so allows, and it is ridiculous that it sometimes won’t), and someone needs to take to heart the firm principle of Just Keep My Fucking Music Library Intact or I’ll Fucking Cut You.
I think the odds of this happening are slim to none. It would make me happy and both preserve and restore the utility of a once well-made app, so it seems like the usual asking Apple for a unicorn. Watch as this year’s WWDC is about doing the exact opposite of these things instead.