iTunes vs the Music app

Whatever. Yes, Meta costs money. Yes, Multi Item Edit costs money. Are either/both worth it? Your choice, depending on your involvement with your library.

@ace, maybe it’s time to close this topic. At least we got some good tips/comments regarding how to handle classical music.

I’m spent most of my Iife in the 60s and 70s with my ear glued to various radios. Very few FM DJs played full albums, with the very radical Sargent Pepper and White Beatles Albums leading the pack. To this day, advertising $$$$$$ have a lot to do with many DJs not having the option to play full albums. The stations lose money if listeners switch to other stations. The powers that be at most radio stations watch the numbers carefully to determine what’s popular to create lists for the DJs choose from.

Mostly motivated by the success of iTunes, advertisers and radio stations more than doubled down on audience research and tracking. Arbitron, once the king of AM/FM audience research, was acquired years and years ago by Nielsen for a few billion:

I tried that, and for reasons unknown, Audible is unable to authorize Books to play books that I previously bought from Audible. In fact, now that I try to access public domain audiobooks recorded by Librivox.org and recordings of interviews I conducted, Books will not play them and Music can only find one track at a time, if it can find them at all.

From the time I first encountered iTunes until Apple killed it, it was software that “just worked”. Click on an audio file, and iTunes played it. I know music piracy was an issue; as a professional writer, I care about artists’ rights. But I also care about the ability to listen to work in the public domain and copies of work that I own. Apple should not be producing software that only plays audio sold by Apple or Audible or their associates.

Have I missed something that I should have been told when I moved from Mojave to Big Sur? This is a mess.

As I mentioned yesterday, using the Finder to check cover art for music files is not reliable with Catalina as some thumbnails such as those for AIFF files do not show up while others do like mp3 or ALAC. Thumbnails were always available in the Finder with Mojave and previous OS versions. Here are two screen shots to illustrate the issue with the same files using Mojave and Catalina:

I checked my Monterey VM installation and all thumbnails show up so I assume that the problem is only with Catalina. I don’t have a Big Sur VM to check for the issue.

The one reliable way to ascertain if your album art is embedded is to use iTunes or similar. There are other programs but since iTunes or Music is free and easy to use, I posted the following instructions and screen shots in an earlier thread when that issue came up:

(From October, 2021)
If your artwork is not embedded properly in each file, then there is the chance that iTunes or Music is incorrectly displaying the wrong image or perhaps none in some cases. I don’t use Music since I like the older iTunes display in version 10.7 which was the last to have CoverFlow. It is still usable on Catalina (and Big Sur) by using the Retroactive app to install it as well as on other older systems using some hacks or by virtualization. But I decided to utilize Music in Catalina using virtualization to show you what I mean so you can check to see if you are missing the art or it’s not being displayed correctly. I only embedded the album cover for the first track on The Jerry Vale album for these examples and the rest on that album did not have the embedded art.

Even if you have the album art in only one file for an album, iTunes/Music will add that to the database so when you are looking at the album view or CoverFlow view, it will show. But in Music when you are playing the track, it will also show it in a small thumbnail next to the title near the top as in this screen shot:

But if the file is missing the embedded art, it will still show the image for the album in large view but the thumbnail icon will be the generic music notes as in this screen shot for the second song:

The same behavior can be seen in iTunes 10 as this screen shows the image on the CoverFlow section and in the smaller window at the bottom left:

If the artwork is not embedded for the file as in the second song, it will look like this:

If someone is thinking about reimporting music, I would check some of the albums or files that are giving you trouble to ascertain if that could be the issue. Also, you might have two images or more if they were added somehow so you can check that by using the Get Info command on a track so see what you have there under the artwork tab. If you’re using some of the later iTunes versions, the process should be similar.

I don’t understand your distress over the loss of albums. I have never viewed my music library any other way, and I can do it in Music without any problem whatsover. The interface may waste space and not work exactly like iTunes; but I am not aware of any basic functionality that is missing in the Music app.

Hey @jeff1, another Jeff here
Are you aware you can run iTunes in Big Sur using Retroactive - GitHub - cormiertyshawn895/Retroactive: Run Aperture, iPhoto, and iTunes on macOS Big Sur and macOS Catalina. Xcode 11.7 on macOS Mojave. Final Cut Pro 7, Logic Pro 9, and iWork ’09 on macOS Mojave or macOS High Sierra..

iTunes Version 12.9.5.5 has been running swimmingly on my 2017 iMac. BTW, before installing Big Sur I moved my iTunes library files to another drive (Synology NAS). I was quite pleased when I showed the new iTunes where the library is and it was just as I left it in Monterey. The only-est issues I’ve observed are: (1) you can’t launch it with Spotlight, and (2) you can’t add keyboard shortcuts to Scripts (e.g., some of Doug’s Scripts)

AND, thankfully, Apple leaves it alone when updates are applied

The jury’s still out on whether or not it’ll run in Monterey…

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The only problem I have with the Album interface is that it puts all the album names there, regardless of not being the complete album. I love to listen to the albums I have, but the Album selection will show me all the album names of all my singles (of which I have many due to making playlists) and my complete albums are lost in there somewhere.

Thanks. I didn’t know about that. I normally don’t play music on my Mac, but I do need the ability to play other audio, so I may look into it when I have time. Alternatively, I may dust off my old 2010 MacMini and go back to that.

I can’t help you with audiobooks from these sources. The few that I own were originally purchased on cassette and CD. I ripped the CDs and used Audacity (to import the cassetted via a USB audio interface).

The CD books were ripped via iTunes. The Audacity tracks were recorded to AIFF, which I then added to iTunes and converted to AAC. Within iTunes, I was able to set the media type to “audiobook”, which changed the available metadata to book-related ones (title, author, chapter, etc.) The resulting files had “.m4b” file extensions.

After migrating everything to a new Mac running Catalina and then Big Sur, Music stopped presenting the audiobooks, but the m4b files were in an “Audiobooks” folder under my “iTunes Music” folder. I was able to import them into Books without a problem.

I also had no problem importing the older AAC and AIFF files into Books.

The only real problem (for me) with Books is that it provides no mechanism to edit the metadata, and since Music doesn’t support audiobooks either, it will require some other tool, should I decide to do this again in the future.

Poking around in my files, the audiobook Librivox files are mp3s which I moved to an external hard drive where I store music ripped from my reel-to-reel tapes. When I click on them they open in Music, but can’t find the next chapter. I may be able to recover them with some effort.

The Audible audiobooks were originally in the same Audiobook folder in the iTunes folder, but all that remains there are the folders of the Audible files. I was able to recover one book file using Time Machine, but have yet to find any way to play it.

Thanks for the suggestions

Subler is a great tool for this, and you can save sets making it easy to apply a common set of metadata to multiple files.

https://subler.org/

Just arrived at this thread…
I used iTunes for years and have had little difficulty with the transition to the Music app on my iMac. It does what I need although, as mentioned, setting up streaming radio stations is more painful than it ought to be.

I’m pleased to see mention of the way Books is a miserable replacement for the audiobooks capabilities of iTunes. In particular, because there is almost no metadata edit feature. I use a combination of an old version of iTunes on an old laptop running High Sierra and MP3tag to edit metadata before I import audiobooks to Books
I wonder if the Books programmer (and I bet there’s just one) has ever visited a real library. I don’t believe any on Earth sorts their collection by title as Books does. The sort feature is useless but then the app is blind to metadata so sorting is deemed unimportant.
If anyone knows a good audiobooks alternative which sync’s to iOS please speak up (and not Audible, most of my audiobooks are from other sources).

Since upgrading to Monterey, I moved all my audiobook listening to BookPlayer on iOS. It’s a straightforward app that does ‘one’ thing and does it well. I should have started using it sooner, because it’s far, far better than Apple’s Books app (which I was previously using with iTunes for syncing).

BookPlayer can import audiobooks directly from the iOS Files system (e.g. iCloud Drive, Dropbox, etc), you can copy them to BookPlayer using the “Files” section of the Finder sync window, or you can AirDrop them to your phone. And anything that gives you a way to “open in…” allows BookPlayer to0 import the file. It allows you to combine multiple files into a single audiobook, it recognises chapter markers, and allows you to create folders to group books.

I don’t really listen to audiobooks on my Mac, but if you have an Apple Silicon Mac, you can download BookPlayer and run it (I’ve not tried this yet). I would probably use IINA to play audiobooks on the odd occasion that I listened to one on my Mac instead of iPhone. Basically, my audiobook management system is to organise my audiobooks in the Finder, use Subler to edit the metadata, and copy them to BookPlayer for listening on my iPhone.

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Jolin, thank you, that’s worth investigating.

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There’s this book: