Photo: AP, Photoshop by Jay Yarow
Once upon a time iTunes was the only way to back up your iPhone, sync music to it, and even buy new tracks.But today with subscription options and apps’ ability to download music to your device for offline listening, iTunes isn’t nearly as useful.
When Apple allowed users to back up their iDevices to the cloud over WiFi it just stuck another nail in the desktop version of iTunes’ coffin.
Even if you’re an Apple lover, ditching iTunes opens up a new world of digital music in the form of discovery and additional features to enhance your listening experience.
Here’s how you can do it.
Vox is a lightweight music player for Mac OS X that supports a bunch of file types including, MP3, AAC, AIFF, and WAV.
When it comes to playing music, Vox has many more features than the iTunes app. You can select tracks from your library via the built-in browser, there's a progress bar in the dock icon, and you can customise the player to look however you like.
The great thing about Tomahawk is that you're not limited to one music source. Users can pull in music from all kinds of sources including, Spotify, SoundCloud, iTunes, last.fm, and a host of other services.
The player is designed excellently, is lightweight, and easy to navigate.
Fidelia is a beautifully designed audio player made specifically for 'audiophiles'.
Fidelia supports all of the modern file types including FLAC, a high-quality audio format that iTunes does not support.
Besides offering features that iTunes doesn't, Fidelia looks like a classic audio receiver in digital form.
The app is a free, but there are add-ons you can purchase that further enhance your audio experience.
Spotify is one of our favourite music services. For $9.99 per month users can experience the company's dynamic music collection commercial-free and offline.
Spotify's desktop player let's you import music from iTunes, but it's built-in app market also allows users to enhance the player.
Spotify is currently working on a refreshed interface that's expected to debut this year and will let you follow your favourite artists and easily manage your playlists.
Price: Free ($9.99 subscription highly recommended, it's worth it)
Google Music is a great way to back up your iTunes music collection. You can upload up to 20,000 tracks to an online storage locker and listen to songs anywhere on your Apple or Android devices.
Google Music is very similar to Apple's iTunes Match service, but it won't cost you a penny.
Besides just storing music, Google has been quietly beefing up paid music selection. There are many tracks available for purchase too.
Price: Free (if you need more storage you can easily purchase it)
The accompanying app comes standard on all Android devices and there are many app options to listen on your iOS devices including via the web browser at http://play.google.com/music.
Amazon's Cloud Player is robust on the web.
Like Google Music, you can upload your tracks to an online storage locker and then stream it back to your mobile device or computer.
The Cloud Player comes with 5 GB of free online storage, but there are plenty of options to get more storage. If music is your primary concern, the Cloud Player Premium allows users to import up to 250,000 songs for $24.99 per year. Plus any music purchased from Amazon's online MP3 store won't count against your storage limit.
Price: Free (but there are paid options to upgrade)
If you're not nailed to your desktop, Pandora is an excellent way to listen to old favourites and discover new music.
The rating system is very robust and ensures you'll only discover new music you care about.
Pandora has a premium subscription called Pandora One which has higher quality audio, a desktop application, and no ads for $3.99 per month.
MOG is a streaming service that's very similar to Spotify. The paid subscription service is known for providing high-quality streams of the latest music and old favourites too.
MOG's catalogue has over 15 million songs and is popular in the U.S. and Australia.
Besides just tracks, MOG has a radio service and an awesome discovery system.
Price: Free for 14 days after that $4.99 per month for unlimited web browser streaming and $9.99 per month for computer and unlimited downloads to iPhone, iPad, and Android.
Rdio has a library packed with 18 million songs and counting. There are no ads, and it's simple to download tracks for offline listening.
There are three plans to fit any budget. The Web-only subscription is $4.99 per month and gives unlimited web streaming. An unlimited subscription for $9.99 per month gives unlimited web streaming and unlimited mobile streaming. Finally, the unlimited family plan is $17.99 per month and gives you two unlimited subscriptions.
Besides simply listening Rdio has a few advantages over other players for the feature-greedy: heavy rotation lets you see the music people in your social networks are listening to, top charts gives you a glimpse into what's popular, and best of all you can listen to new releases the day they come out.
Rhapsody is a very social platform that encourages users to follow friends and view their playlists.
For $10 per month you can connect to the service's catalogue of over 16 million songs.
And of course it's simple to download tracks to your device to listen later.
Price: $10 per month (with a free 14-day trial)