Unlike many people who write about music, I keep all of my audio collection on my laptop computer, a MacBook air. The main advantages of doing this are that I have my entire music collection at my fingertips wherever I go, and I save a lot of shelf space that would otherwise be taken up with CDs gathering dust. I also love buying music online – it’s so quick and easy – and these days, you can find a surprising amount of unusual stuff via digital download.
But in truth, maintaining a digital music cache isn’t ideal in many ways. Here is a list of some of the main issues I have with my current system:
1. Manual data entry: Many of the CDs that people send me which I then transfer to my computer’s iTunes application don’t import their track information automatically. This means I spend many painstaking hours manually entering the names of titles, artists, albums and genres.
2. Limited access to liner notes: Some CDs bought on iTunes come with a downloadable album booklet, but this is the exception rather than the rule. So most of my musical collection is devoid of lyrics and useful background information about the artists and the works on the recordings.
3. Browsing difficulties: The “cover flow” setting in iTunes allows you to “flick” through album covers as you might browse through a CD or vinyl collection on a shelf. But it’s not quite the same because so many of the recordings I own aren’t commercial recordings, so they show up on the screen as blank squares with no titles or cover art.
4. Incomplete track importing: Sometimes when I try to transfer a CD to my laptop music library, not all the tracks from the CD transfer successfully to the digital format. I end up with a partial album.
5. Backup challenges: I have so much music that my current backup drive can’t handle all of the files. I need to find another solution quickly.
The convenience and space saving qualities of buying and maintaining my music via iTunes means that I’m willing to put up with these less-than-optimal conditions. I’m hoping that in time I’ll be able to iron out the kinks.