We have multiple iPods in my house (like Dave) and have registered those iPods to multiple computers over time. So when I got my iPod Shuffle last year, I thought I’d make life easy by setting up a folder in iTunes on our one desktop computer acting as a home media server. I can add and remove songs from that one folder, sync my Shuffle, and voila! I have a brand new workout mix.
Unfortunately yesterday I couldn’t find my Shuffle before my run on the treadmill, so I grabbed my old iPod Mini. The Mini still works great, but it had none of my new favorite workout tunes. I knew I could sync the Mini to the folder I’d dedicated to the Shuffle to grab my newer stuff, but that would mean erasing all of the existing music on the Mini. Worse, the computer that was originally registered to the Mini – holding all of my purchased iTunes music and uploaded CDs – is long gone. Essentially my Mini has been carrying music with no back-up.
In the end, I decided most of my purchased iTunes music had likely been added to our household music library on the dedicated media server computer. There was a decent chance that some of my uploaded CDs weren’t in the library, but if necessary, I still had those CDs packed away somewhere and could find and re-upload them. (Not that that will ever happen…)
Bottom line: I gave up worrying about losing the music on my Mini and synced it to the music I had set aside for my Shuffle.
The situation was irritating at best and infuriating at worst, and I’m betting many, many people have gone through something similar. In fact I’ve heard stories about people losing an entire music collection by unwittingly connecting and syncing an iPod to a new computer. The fault lies in the rigidity of DRM, but I’ve always been surprised that there hasn’t been a backlash against Apple iPods specifically because of their market dominance. Many people have now had iPods for years, which means they’ve likely upgraded computer, iPod or both at least once. I’d have thought by now that there would have been some kind of uproar against iPods as people realized how difficult it can be to maintain a music library with one.
On a positive note, the situation is of course rapidly changing as more and more digital music goes DRM-free. Just this week I bought a bunch more tunes from Amazon MP3 and have moved them around to multiple devices already. (Still waiting on my Slacker player) However, what about the people who built up iTunes music collections and now carry around hundreds or thousands of DRM-protected tunes around? Impressively, it doesn’t seem Apple has alienated many of those folks. For one reason or another, despite being a frontrunner in digital music, the iPod has remained pretty successfully above the DRM fray. Some people might argue differently, but in the population at large, the iPod is still the music player of choice.