For Christmas 2003, my husband got me an mp3 player. At the time you still had the two choices: you could get a cheap one that would hold about 10 songs, or a considerably more expensive one that would hold 50 hours of music. Ryan picked the more expensive variety because he spoils me and also because, 10 songs? Useless. Anyway, the model he picked was the RCA Lyra. I quickly set to work filling the thing with songs. Unfortunately, RCA had apparently formed some kind of unholy alliance with MusicMatch, which is, in my opinion, the worst of the various music-organizing programs available. Not to mention the fact that I already had Windows Media Player, Real Player and iTunes on my computer, so obviously I wasn't terribly excited about putting another one on the computer.
People who have put their music into new programs before know what happens: you have to relabel a lot of stuff. If you got anything from a P2P network, it undoubtedly is mislabelled in some ridiculous way -- either the song is called by some random lyric or the artist's name is mispelled, or you've got an ABBA song with the genre listed as "jazz." People kill me, they really do. Now if you're you just going to put the song on a CD, it doesn't really matter how it's listed on your music software, but if you're putting in an mp3 player, it does matter. I mean, maybe one day you only want to listen to 80s music while you're running, which is the main activity I needed my mp3 player for. Each song needs to be labelled properly for the mp3 player to categorize it properly. I don't know, maybe I'm just a stickler for this kind of thing, but I don't want Madonna popping up when I've got it set to play R&B or something like that. I like my music organized.
So I tried to make it work with MusicMatch. I spent 7 hours one weekend relabelling over 1000 songs on the computer. I downloaded what seemed like constant MusicMatch updated versions. I even paid to download songs from Music Match. This was where I lost patience. I'd been downloading songs from iTunes, but in order to put them on my mp3 player, I then had to burn them to a CD and then use Music Match to rip them off the CD. Only Music Match didn't really like ripping music off CDs, so this usually took a lot longer than it should have. I thought, this is retarded, and in an attempt to eliminate the middle man, I looked into Music Match's download service. I didn't like it nearly as much as I liked iTunes -- like the Music Match program, it was stupid and confusing and slow -- but I found 4 songs I wanted and I opened an account and bought them. And then I tried to put them on my mp3 player, only to discover that while my mp3 player was compatible with Music Match only, the format that songs downloaded from from the Music Match download service came in was not supported by my mp3 player. Huh? Music Match is presumable aware that it has a captive audience with the RCA mp3 player owners, but puts the songs out in a format that said mp3 players won't recognize?
In order to put the four songs I'd downloaded from Music Match on my mp3 player, I had to burn them to a CD, use iTunes to rip them from the CD, make another CD with them on iTunes, and use Music Match to rip them back. How stupid is that?
Fortunately, soon after, I checked the RCA website and found that there was new software I could download to reformat my mp3 player so that we didn't have to use Music Match anymore. I happily uninstalled that asinine program, glad to be rid of it forever. Unfortunately, not long after that, my RCA Lyra mp3 player died for no apparent reason. Chock full of my carefully and lovingly labelled music and fully charged, it simply refuses to power on. I've thought about sending it in to be repaired, but since it's no longer under warranty, I'm guessing that like most appliances these days, it's probably more expensive to repair than it is to replace.
So last week I went and bought myself an iPod shuffle. It's tiny -- you stick it in a USB port in the back of the computer to charge it as well as to transfer music to it, which is as easy as dragging and dropping. And I've always loved the iTunes software, which I've been using for quite a while anyway. And all is well in the world of Tracie's digital music. It's a beautiful thing.