Of course in the digital age, in the midst of a revolution as it were, we no longer sit around camp fires and sing, now we have binary code through which to funnel our now ostensibly evolved tastes.
I’ve been fooling around with iTunes, which I find to be an excellent management tool for large music libraries, and discovered a host of tools. See, no matter how simple and elegant the iTunes interface is, there are loads of things I would like to do with my library of music that iTunes just don’t allow.
So in my search to make my music data malleable, I found a few sites designed to maximise that fat ass .xml file.
Musicmobs.com and Audioscrobbler are the most interesting, but for entirely different reasons.
Audioscrobbler utilises a plugin for iTunes that reports each track as it’s played to the Audioscrobbler database. It then builds a profile of the music you like, and tracks your playing habits. My favourite part of the site is the weekly ‘top ten’ feature. Since I’ve been jotting down weekly top ten songs in assorted journals for years, it’s nice for it to be automatically done for me.
My least favourite aspect of Audioscrobbler is that the website and submissions server has been down (sometimes for days) intermittently and has proven quite frustration. Also, if for whatever reason you have to restart, all your local stats go back to zero.
Also, the interface is quite bare-bones; not unattractive, just nothing to shout and scream about.
Musicmobs.com is different. For iTunes to interact with this site, a download of a little app is necessary. It’s a simple, few-frills kind of business. There are two windows: the one that lists what’s in your library that’s similar to the track playing in iTunes, and the other window displays music similar to what’s playing that isn’t included in your library. There’s a little slider to choose more mainstream recommendations or ‘hipster’ suggestions.
Unlike Audioscrobbler, syncing with the server isn’t automatic. One has to load one’s library up and then choose to sync. That said, the syncs seem more reliable than Audioscrobbler, as the stats reset immediately, rather than the somewhat arduous and protracted delay with Audioscrobbler which can take as long as two three days to update.
Another feature of the Musicmobs site that I like is the ability to display album art. However, this is an imperfect thing. The system apparently pulls it’s album art selection from Amazon, but even when artwork exists in Amazon’s database, it doesn’t always appear on the site. The ability to choose one to appear in your profile as your ‘featured album’ though, is very cool and definitely an advantage Musicmobs has over Audioscrobbler.
Both sites suffer from community issues. I dislike both sites implementation of community discussion. Musicmobs doesn’t have a forum as yet, but from what I understand the site and service is still in a BETA state, so when they’re ready, they’ll no doubt implement one.
In general, both these sites are neck and neck (if there was a race on). Both sites support Mac & PCs, however Mobster seems only to support iTunes. Audioscrobbler has download links for Winamp, Windows Media Player etc.).
Of the Audioscrobbler plugins that I used for iTunes, iScrobbler for MacOsX II found to be better. It’s a plugin for iTunes that works at the system level, and there’s no need to turn it on or off. The PC equivalent runs as Visualiser for iTunes, and I found a little more annoying. I also found iTunesregistry.com, but I didn’t like the interface, the method of upload and worse, there’s no kind of live reporting. I believe you have to reload the iTunes library file everytime you want to update your profile and that’s a right nuisance.
All in all, I recommend both sites for different reasons. I like them both, but wish that the features each provides could be combined into one site.
Since that’s unlikely to happen, I’ve become addicted to them both.