Mac Power Users 443: Revisiting Music Management

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Thanks for the great episode :slight_smile:. I moved from Spotify to Apple Music on day 1 and have no regrets. For me, the interface is better and I like that the recommendations are wider genre-wise.
I mainly use the service through New Music weekly playlist and other curated playlists on the phone. I have a Workflow widget which saves any song I like to one of my playlists directly from the lock screen. You can download the workflow here. Just change the playlist names in the menu accordingly.


Just want to give a shout-out to Tidal as an alternative service. For me, it has been the most practical way to get access to a huge catalog of lossless music. I mainly use it on iOS, and due to file sizes, it is wise to have the most frequently played lists as local downloads or be connected to WiFi.

As with David, I too consume a lot of music, so buying and managing it all would not be feasible for me.

Apart from stellar audio quality, Tidal also have pretty good liner notes on each album and track. You will have a good chance at figuring out who is playing that wicked bass line and verify that you indeed recognized the correct saxophone player. I find it a bit strange that on Holywood movies, the end credits will include details down to the “Catering services for third Philipines stunt crew”, while on digital music, the main artist is often the only thing mentioned. I want to know who’s on stage / in the studio, and not only the main artist.

Tidal will give you the names of (in most cases) all performers on the record, producers, mixers, recording engieers and other personell who worked on the album.

As these great craftsmen are putting so much time, effort and expensive high-end hardware to good use, I really want a signal that is as close as possible to the final mix they intended into my headset.

Downsides to Tidal is that it seems to be heavily skewed towards a significantly younger audience than 50+ and discovery is far worse than Spotify. Then again, Spotify disovery is probably the best in the world.

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The talk about how you can find obscure tracks in Apple Music was a bit ironic for me, given that I recently bought and ripped some CDs for the first time in several years (the soundtrack for an anime TV series that was never released in the U.S.). Apple Music has a lot of stuff, but they don’t quite have everything.

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Thanks for a great episode.

There’s one piece of software I first heard about in the MPU facebook forum but I didn’t hear mentioned in the podcast. It is Roon , from Roon labs.

If you have a music collection it’s quite amazing - It catalogues everything neatly, provides access to it from any iOS/Android/Mac OS/Windows device on the network, and also allows you to control remote play via difference protocols (mainly Airplay)

Connecting it to Tidal provides access to a much larger library, and helps you discover new music you might like.

The only problem with Roon is that it’s quite pricey, but if you have a large music collection, There’s great value in using it.

I fall somewhere between David and Katie. I have a lot more music than Katie, with over 13,000 tracks, but it’s all purchased or ripped. When doing the calculus for Apple Music, I don’t have teen children yet and I buy less than 12 albums per year so $10/month doesn’t make sense for me. I do pay for iTunes Match to have my music in the cloud though.

If I did get Apple Music in the future (once my kids become teens), will I need iTunes Match for my own ripped/purchased music or will that functionality and expense get folded into Apple Music?

Years ago I uploaded a bunch of CDs to a service (nameless). A month or two later they changed their policy. Had to remove my albums… (l did not have hundreds uploaded.)

Now I have a few hundred albums. “how things have changed iTunes Match” names my fear. …future changes at iTunes Match.

Investment of hours … Disappointment…

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

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@katiefloyd, do you have a name/link of the Monoprice ear buds you have?

David mentioned using the rain and thunderstorm track in Apple Music when working, but an alternative that I use is Noizio. You can use Noizio to create custom mixes of background noise. For example, I have a custom mix that is a coffee shop during a rain storm, and is the perfect mix to drown out background noise when working intently on a project.


Enjoyed the episode. It seems like we will be revisiting music management for a while as there doesn’t seem to be a clear answer for most people at this time. I have been a Spotify user from their early days and absolutely love it, particularly the discoverability. It is really, really good. However, I plan on getting a HomePod soon and now thinking of moving my premium Spotify subscription down to the free version and getting Apple music for the HomePod. That way, I can still get the discoverability of Spotify while enjoying the benefits of the Apple music / HomePod integration. I had thought about just getting iTunes Match to use with the HomePod but I don’t think I trust Apple to match my songs correctly.

Like @macsparky, I have a Sonos setup that includes an AirPlay 2 compatible speaker (a Play:5) and several non-AirPlay 2 speakers (four Play:1s). My Play:5 is in the kitchen with the Play:1s scattered around the rest of the house. This worked out very well when Sonos added AirPlay 2 support. Because it’s in a central location, the Play:5 is generally going to be part of any group of speakers that I want to use (kitchen and office, kitchen and basement, whole house, etc.) so I can pipe the audio through AirPlay 2 to the Play:5, then distribute it to the other speakers.

So my advice would be to put the AirPlay 2 compatible speaker at the center of the Venn diagram, where it will be included in all or most of the sets of speakers you want to use.

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@DomBett It all comes down to math at the end. Apple is definitely losing money on me.



Thanks @zdub. I’m going to check it out.

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Really enjoyed this episode! A couple thoughts to pipe in:

  1. Much agreement on the greatly-reduced need for hand-crafted music playlist curation (unless you really love it and want to, of course) with a music subscription. Really nice!
  2. Also enjoyed how @MacSparky mentioned one for the smaller benefits of music subscriptions is the pleasant ability to listen to music you like, but would never buy. For me that was a lovely surprise as there is lots of music I “like” but not enough to trade with dollars directly.

Two things I also thought would be of interest:

  1. Regarding “while you work” music I absolutely love focus@will. The best concentration music ever! Yes, it is a subscription, but I paid for a lifetime membership years ago and it was one of the best investments ever.
  2. Shawn Blanc mentioned that someone made a “Deep Work” playlist on Apple Music so that might be a good search, as well.

One thing that was not mentioned, which is a huge amount of media management are those files that are audio, but not necessarily music. Things like lectures, sound effects, speeches, etc.

Personally I don’t like those in iTunes and thankfully they don’t need to be there because I have Plex.

Plex is an absolutely essential piece of my audio management because it allows me to store and organize anything and everything that is “audio but not music”. I have literally thousands of sermons, lectures, tutorials and other audio that Plex is perfect for.


Roger this. Lots of non major label content out there that hasn’t yet landed on streaming platforms.

I think the Match functionality gets folded in as the iCloud Music Library in Apple Music.

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On the voice memo app front - I wanted to shout out Just Press Record. It’s a great and dead simple little app I’ve used for years now. Biggest bonus? Their highly functional and handy watch app. Biggest other little nice feature is the built in transcription.


There are 37 Deep Work playlists on apple music currently…
None seem to be ‘official’ so thats a lot of listening to figure out which is the best :slightly_smiling_face:

I am surprised that @katiefloyd, as a Synology user, didn’t talk about DS Audio and hosting your own music on the server! I do that now. My library is on my DS218, and I can stream it to my Apple TV at home or my iPhone on the road! The music doesn’t take up storage on my phone, and I am not dependent on a third party service for streaming. Think this is something to talk about on the next MPU+?

Thanks for another great episode!

I subscribe to both Apple Music and iTunes Match. I subscribe to Apple Music to gain access to the extensive library that comes with this subscription and I subscribe to iTunes Match so that I can add any audio tracks (even ones I create myself) to my library.

For example, if I’m teaching a yoga class I might have a playlist that consists of music I’ve purchased from iTunes, music from the Apple Music library, and a recording from a live event that I want to feature in the class.

Being able to so easily combine audio from different sources without resorting to copper wires is very convenient.

To keep the costs down I purchase iTunes Gift Cards from Costco when they go on sale at 20% off. I maintain enough credit that I never need to charge music, app, movie, etc. purchases/rentals directly to my credit card.

p.s. I think iTunes Match is needed if you want to permanently upgrade previously ripped tracks to a higher bitrate…and still “own” the music. If the music was purchased through iTunes I believe you always get the high-quality version from the iTunes library, even if you don’t subscribe to either Apple Music or iTunes Match.