What the death of Apple’s iTunes says about our digital habits

Apple Music
Apple Music

Robinson Meyer for The Atlantic:

One of the great cultural events of the 2010s was the slow abandonment and ultimate death of iTunes. By the time the software was euthanized earlier this year, it had become an embarrassment, a mess of greasy preference panes and grayed-out, unreliable content. We were glad to see it go…

The computing realities of the 2000s have displaced the dreams of the ’90s. Instead of the libertarian-communitarian global village that Wired magazine and other prophets of the California ideology once imagined — where people control their individual digital domicile, then freely distribute the fruits of their orchard — we have been displaced to a kind of rentier’s frontier, where there’s enough space for everyone as long as you pay a low monthly fee.

MacDailyNews Take: What did/do you like better? Managing your iTunes Library or having over 60 million songs on demand via Apple Music? We’ll take the latter every day of the week!


  1. It’s not “dead” 🙄 iTunes is called Music now. I still have my complete iTunes Library as before, accessible from Music. Even the Finder icon for Music looks like old iTunes icon. And Music isn’t just about my personal library and Apple Music streaming; the iTunes Store is still there in Music to purchase (not rent) songs, like before.

    I can connect my old iPods and sync songs to it from my library. But the iPod now appears in Finder window sidebar as a device (under Locations) along with things like external drives, instead of in iTunes window sidebar. When iPod is selected in Finder sidebar, the familiar panel for setting up and syncing iPod appears in main portion of Finder window (to the right). It actually makes sense that it works this way.

    In fact, Music looks and feels like iTunes a long time ago… Back when it was an Mac OS 9 “jukebox” application, before all the non-music stuff was tacked on, and it became bloated and cumbersome. I like how Apple split off the excess parts into their own apps (like Podcasts and TV) and kept original essence of iTunes alive in Music.

    FYI – Music still has the iTunes Visualizer! 😜

  2. As an avid music consumer, I prefer owning my music any day of the week. While it’s true I only own roughly 700 cd’s worth of music, the simple truth is that if I choose not to pay a thing to any service, anywhere, I can still listen to all it.

  3. People who prefer streaming compressed (lossy) music over listening to full definition music (lossless) are like people who prefer nonfat milk, light beer or American cheese over the real thing. In other words, they are clueless consumers of inferior products and services.

    Give me iTunes (Music) and a stack of disks to digitize (lossless) any day — or, GASP, vinyl and a record player. And a fine audio system to listen with. I suppose if you listen to streaming music over pathetic speakers, or further compressed bluetooth systems, then you’d be fine with streaming music. But if you’re an audiophile, then the whole ecosystem is a joke.

    1. The replies here are interesting, telling and surprising. Though the entries are scant, the verve so far is clearly in favor of owning. I have the same pref and find subscriptions repelling.

      MDN…a poll about own vs stream would be interesting. I’m curious is Apple is proceeding with tone-deafness, or if I’m just stuck in the past?

  4. Nobody listens to 60 million songs, most of which are rubbish.

    An educated musician or collector will archive the great stuff for himself so he can refer to it again and again, and give away what he doesn’t want. Even professionals I know rarely have more than a few thousand albums, maybe 50,000 CDs at most … and I have seen personal music collection rooms lined with shelves like a public library.

    Despite the hype, “The Cloud” is a terrible archive. The cloud is a gated room controlled by a large corporation that doesn’t care what the individual wants, not at any price. Relative to the massive body of work available before digital file formats, Apple Music gives you only recent digital mainstream content. Even if it did have deep cuts, the music lover has no good way to keep notes on it. Apple Music in no way offers tools a real music lover wants. After all, it was not designed to enlighten or educate nor offer the best quality. It was designed to issue low quality DRM noise and extract monthly fees. That is what Apple Music is. Rental for the large and growing mentally feeble consumer class.

    With iTunes, for those who have digitized their collections, at least one could properly fill in metadata and take notes. Apple Music doesn’t even get basic info right on the music it streams. Consider if you were a drummer, for example, and you wanted to tag all the songs Hal Blaine played on for future study. Good luck with Apple Music. And the subtleties he laid down are lost with compressed streaming file formats. Sorry, but subscribers are not real music lovers.

  5. Totally agree. Owning anything offers a deeper and more lasting relationship to the object/art/sound.

    The streaming verve promoted energetically by Apple is kind of disturbing…as a devolving compromise. There is a superficiality to the product and experience delivery. I thought it was more broadly embraced (maybe it is), but I question it more so now.

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