Synching (and backing up) your iTunes music using MP3Tunes

An article I wrote on Sharing iTunes and iPhoto libraries between users is consistently one of my most popular pages here. iPhoto's most recent versions has photo sharing on the same machine using the network capabilities, but the iTunes "solution" has always had major problems: you end up sharing the same ratings, play count, etc. etc.

Additionally, since I recently had some hard drive corruption (this has happened more than once...) we lost a big chunk of music: backing up 80GB of legitimate music is *hard* (never mind consistently keeping an offsite backup up to date).

Lastly, I've long kept a "subset" of music on my laptop (e.g. no country, no opera, no Ani DiFranco). I haven't been great about keeping this up to date, but using rsync basically works

I recently rediscovered MP3Tunes and the concept of a music locker. It's only $40US/year for an unlimited size locker and syncing between unlimited computers (there is a free 1GB account that you can experiment with). This was a Flickr-size investment, so I decided to just go for it. On paper, it seems pretty perfect. Here's what MP3Tunes does:

  • It keeps your playlists and music in sync with a desktop sync client
  • You can selectively sync subsections (solution for my laptop!)
  • Sync can be bi-directional or uni-directional 
  • You can access/stream your music from the web
  • There is talk of a mobile client for Symbian Series 60 

Sounds pretty much perfect. The *only* downside is that protected/DRM'd music can only be played on authenticated devices -- i.e. no streaming of DRM music. That's fine, I'm mainly interested in the sync/backup functions anyway...I'm not sure if I'll use the streaming function (although it will mean that I likely put a lot less music on my laptop).

I suspect that this is actually a "Part I" type of post. It took the Oboe Sync client something like 24 hours to just scan my music directory, and the actual sync has been running for 1.5 hrs. The projected total is ~340hrs (!! -- seems to run at about 60KB/s).

In closing, let me link to Streampad. I was checking this service out and it integrated with MP3Tunes lockers. Doing a little more investigating, it might going somewhere interesting. Here's what Fred Wilson had to say about it:

The primary objective of Streampad is to build an iTunes like service in the browser. Not as a browser (like Songbird is doing which is also a neat idea), but in a browser.

You can go to Streampad at any time and listen to services like hypemachine, internet radio, etc. But if you install the Streampad server on the computer where your music library is, you can listen to your entire music collection anywhere, from inside a browser.

Music anywhere is definitely an idea whose time has come. More interesting things to come, I'm sure (Last.FM integration to show what music I actually own?).