Rinse: Taking your iTunes library to the cleaners

All the recent talk of Apple TVs has been heightened by the relation that Steve Jobs had put “the guy in charge of iTunes” on the project. This has had many in the conventional media nodding but many others (your typical angry nerds on the internet) have been outraged. Why? Well a lack of social skills and perspective play a large part in it but one of the key problems is iTunes. iTunes is an unwieldily beast that needs to be tamed. Although iTunes is now the core of Apple’s digital media empire and responsible for maintaining apps, books, photos and more, its core job of storing and playing music is sometimes neglected. If you’ve ever been silly enough to drag an m3u file into your library you know the unwieldily mess of duplicates that can arise. Or if you source you music from outside the iTunes Music Store (say you ripped your existing CD collection) then you are likely to miss out on a lot of the fun in terms of CD art, track names might be a little wonky and tagging might be all over the place. At times my iTunes library can look a little funky, and not in a George Clinton way.

Rinse

Fortunately a whole third-party ecosystem has evolved of apps to look after your iTunes library for you. The latest of these is Rinse from RealNetworks

Rinse automatically looks up songs in the widely-acclaimed Gracenote music database, downloads the correct details for each song and applies them in your library. With more than 8 million albums and 100 million tracks in its catalogue, there’s a pretty good chance that most things in your library will be covered.Even if a track is misspelt or unknown, Rinse includes an identification technology to recognise audio samples throughout the track.

Rinse is simple but very hardworking, taking over a number of tasks in your iTunes library. Have a bunch of Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prints CDs in your collection? Rinse can take care of that. All your Django filed under Death Metal instead of Gypsy Jazz? Not a problem. Missing pictures of naked babies chasing dollars in swimming pools? Rinse can download all your missing Nirvana album artwork. The push button simplicity is great and it’s pretty unambiguous. There’s also lots of in-app guidance and hand-holding, so you should have no problems sorting through your library. As a word of warning, to be this good takes ages, and it’s taken Rinse days, (literally days) to work its way through my 500GB music collection – although the accuracy with which it is doing this makes it all worth the wait.

Rinse is a downloadable service available for a one-time payment of £30 at www.rinsemymusic.co.uk. A free trial version that cleans up 50 songs in your iTunes library is also available

Carphone Warehouse’s iTunes and Spotify rival Music Anywhere review roundup

The mobile phone giant might not seem the likeliest choice to launch a game-changing digital music service, but it certainly is reaching for the sky with its new cloud-based innovation.

Music Anywhere allows users to access their entire music collection on the go, by “fingerprinting” their tracks and playlists. The songs will then be available wherever there is an internet connection to hook up to.

Music-Anywhere

By taking advantage of cloud technology, which allows consumers access to shared resources on demand, the company is forging ahead of its competitors. Previously your mobile music library has only been as big as your Mp3 player’s capacity – but with Music Anywhere, there are no space constraints whatsoever, making it an appealing prospect for music obsessives.

The service costs £29 per year (or free if you purchase a Samsung Europa smartphone from CW), making it much more affordable than its nearest rival, Spotify. It’s currently only available on iPhones and BlackBerrys, but that’s likely to change in the future.

Music Anywhere launched on Tuesday with modest fanfare, yet it’s already causing a bit of techbuzz among the media.

The Guardian called it a groundbreaking service that has surprised some in the music industry. It reports that the venture has been publically endorsed by the labels and claims the company may also allow users access to films and eBooks in the near future.

The Register however, points out a possible blip on the radar, as it describes an “alarming” item in the service’s terms and conditions: Apparently, if the majority of Mp3s in a collection are pirated, the company reserves the right to terminate a user’s contract.

Catch Media, the company that powers the service acknowledges this clause, but also states that this will only occur in extreme cases, and that it will abide by privacy laws.

The Telegraph shares the same concerns about “snooping”, but concludes with quotes from BPI head Geoff Taylor, who believes that services such as these are “key to digital growth in the sector”.

Meanwhile, Techradar ponders whether Music Anywhere really will blow its rivals out of the water, or if music-lovers will simply just upgrade to a higher capacity phone or mp3 player.

Finally, Music Weeknotes that

“cloud music has become one of the most important concepts in digital music over the past couple of years and has attracted the attention of some of the biggest technology companies in the world”.

There are many unanswered questions about Music Anywhere and its chances of success, but one thing is certain: fans, musicians and record companies alike, will be watching with interest in the coming months to see whether this unique and unexpected service can breath new life into an ailing music industry.

MFlow – where iTunes and Twitter meet

MFlow is a new music sharing service due to launch on the 15th April. Billed as ‘iTunes meets Twitter’, the service allows users to share music they like using ‘flows’. Like the social networking site, you can ‘follow’ your friends, as well as some British celebrities and DJs, who have already signed up before its launch.

mflow-itunes-meets-twitter

Just like Twitter, your updates (or ‘flows’) appear in your friends’ feeds, and theirs in yours. However, instead of the usual ‘OMG I just burnt my toast’ or ‘did you see what so and so was wearing on the X Factor last night?’ Twitter updates, you ‘reflow’ songs you like, which your friends then get a chance to sample. So far, it’s an interesting idea, but that alone isn’t enough to separate it from already established competitors like Spotify. What really gives this service the edge is its rewards system.

Users can purchase single tracks or albums from the application for around the same price as music on iTunes, Amazon and HMV. Once downloaded, songs are even compatible with the iTunes and can be played on iPods and other MP3 players. If a friend likes a track you have recommended, they can also pay to download it, at which point you get 20% of the track or album cost credited to your account. Basically, the more music you can persuade people to buy, the more music you’ll have; it’s a win-win situation

Although the system is currently in private BETA mode, it will be opened up to the public on 15th April, offering over 1 million tracks and around 70% of the music bought in the UK on a weekly basis. As well as individual users, big music names like NME and Clash have profiles and share music recommendations.

MFlow works like any other music download application. It has an accessible search function and the ‘reflow’ format will be easily recognised by anyone who has used Twitter. Currently, MFlow doesn’t offer the music selection of other downloading websites and, although you can hear 30 second previews of most tracks, some are billed as ‘album only’ and can’t be bought separately or listened to beforehand.

Having said that, MFlow is an original service that could potentially change the way people download legally online. Offering more incentives than traditional downloading software such as iTunes, it not only provides users with a way to share music but also to connect with their favourite artists.

Competition

Latest Gadgets are giving away 20 invite codes for mflow. To enter our competition simply login to your Twitter account and tweet the following message “@LatestGadgetsUK are giving away 20 invite codes for mflow”. Then drop us an email to news@latestgadgets.co.uk remembering to include your Twitter user name. 20 winners will be picked at random and will be notified by email.