Computer music 3: getting inside

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Yesterday's takeaway was that music management programs are glorified spreadsheets with pretty interfaces: iTunes, Roon, Songbird, eLyric, MediaMonkey, Windows Media, etc. Like any spreadsheet, its value is dependent on the quality and quantity of data fed into it - as well as how that data is then presented to the user to be managed. But before we enter into this minefield let's stay focused on understanding iTunes, the single most prolific music management program in the world. Remember the jukebox? Any of you watching Happy Days has seen one: a stand alone machine filled with vinyl records displayed under glass, a menu system for selecting what you wish to hear, a loudspeaker and turntable that played what you asked it to. Here's a picture of the kind I remember, a Seeburg. 1280px-Seeburg_Select-o-matic_jukebox_detail_01A A jukebox has the same functionality as iTunes. Music is stored inside, the user can scroll through a library of contents, the player outputs selections. Yes, it's that simple. Strip away all the hoo-haa and fanfare, and iTunes, and most other music management programs, are digital jukeboxes. So let's break iTunes down into its four core elements:
  • Acquiring music
  • Cataloging music
  • Displaying music
  • Playing music
Like the jukeboxes of old, iTunes provides the four essentials of any computer based music system. Tomorrow we'll look at each of the four tasks separately. Today's takeaway: computer based music systems are functionally the same as the jukebox of old.
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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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