When I first became a music therapist not quite a decade ago, I carried around a binder full of CDs and a small boombox. I had to be pretty choosy about which discs in my collection I took with me to music therapy sessions, because I just couldn’t have it all with me. I also had to be choosy about which music I purchased. I might have had to spend $18 just to get the one track I wanted to share with a client.
Lucky for us, the world has changed!
These days, I carry enough music on my iPod to listen for weeks without repeats if I wanted. Anyone with internet access can easily find and purchase just about any piece of music they could ever want, from one of several reputable, safe, and reliable source. We can store all the music we own in the cloud, and share our findings with everyone we know. I cannot come up with a superlative term that adequately describes how powerful this is for a music therapist, and for any care provider who wishes to connect with their clients through music.
With all the choices available now (and more everyday!), I still stick with one method for storing and organizing all of my music: iTunes.
Here are 10 reasons why I’m still sticking with iTunes:
1. It’s free.
There is no fee to download the software or subsequent upgrades, and you don’t have to pay any annual fee. There aren’t even any annoying ads outside of the store itself. Can’t beat that!
2. It works on Mac and PC computers.
I’ve used it on laptops and desktops with both operating systems, and performance is consistently good on both. (One disadvantage: iTunes does not work on Android devices.)
3. It has been consistent over time.
iTunes is a dinosaur compared to newer apps and music services, so it may not have all the newest bells and whistles. The advantage, though, is that you can be relatively certain that iTunes isn’t going anywhere, and once you master using it, you won’t have to worry about needing to learn a new system all over again.
4. Finding and purchasing music from iTunes is easy.
Of course, Apple wants you to buy music from them, which is why the iTunes store is so visually appealing. Plus, with just a few clicks, you’ve got a powerful way to find the music you want and related songs and artists – even if you have no familiarity with the artist or genre beforehand. That’s really handy when a client asks for something you’ve never heard of!
5. Downloading music from other sources and uploading to iTunes is easy, too.
The iTunes store is nice, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of deals on other sites, too. iTunes makes it easy to import new material into the library so you can keep everything in one place.
6. You can organize your music collection however you wish.
You can sort by genre, artist, album title, song title, or a number of other categories to put your music in an order that makes sense to you (or that makes sense to the client you’re with on any given day.)
7. You can have as many playlists as you want.
You could make a playlist for every older adult you know. You could make a separate playlist for every holiday on the calendar (National Popcorn Day, anyone?). I have tons of playlists for music therapy sessions on my iPod, and I just keep adding more!
8. You can put music on multiple devices.
iTunes allows you to authorize your iTunes account for up to 5 computers, and you can sync your music to any iPod, iPhone or iPad. This means you can have one set of music on one iPod and another set on another iPod, whether you have songs overlapping or not.
9. It’s easy to burn a playlist to a CD.
I know, I know, we’re talking digital music collections here, but if it’s not feasible or desirable for each older adult you serve to have an iPod, you can still burn those playlists to CDs and use the boomboxes you’ve had there for years. iTunes makes this easy, too.
10. You can use the cloud if you want.
In the last couple of years, Apple has introduced a service called iTunes Match. For $24.99 per year, you can have all of your music stored in the cloud, making it accessible on any iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad where you have internet access. That could be extremely useful in a senior living community with wifi accessibility – you could have up to 10 iPods accessing the music collection in the cloud. I haven’t used this particular service, but it looks like it could work quite well in some settings. (P.S. I haven’t explored other cloud-based services either, though. They may work even better for your purposes.)
Maybe iTunes isn’t the hippest way to manage digital music these days, but I still prefer it and recommend it over the other options I have tried.
Do you use iTunes? If not, what is your solution for keeping all of your music organized and accessible?