An iTunes Alternative

    While Apple would like you to think that if you own an iPod you are confined to iTunes this is not exactly true. There are alternatives. The choice depends on what you are wanting to do. For an all in one multi-media manager that can sync to devices, including iOS 7 then Media Monkey is probably the best iTunes alternative. However, it is a very powerful tool, offering numerous options to manage and edit large music collections. If your main need is mainly a player then Songbird or MusicBee may be what you are looking for. Certainly in my view MusicBee is a player that hides powerful editing functions with a beautiful UI that lets you get on with enjoying the music. However, out of the box it does not support iPod Touch/iPhone later than iOS3 – problem. There is a solution (iPod & iPhone Driver) that offers iPod Sync using iTunes, but it didn’t work very well for me. Note that Media Monkey also needs iTunes to be installed to sync to iPod Touch and iPhone, it just hides it away.

     My problem was that I loved MusicBee for sheer usability, but needed to sync to my beloved iPod Touch 4G. I also needed a tool to sync video to my Samsung tablet. My less than elegant solution, but not too troublesome, was to sync MusicBee and Media Monkey and work them off a common folderthat is backed up using Dropbox.

    I use Dropbox to sync files between PC’s. My desktop when working from home and my laptop when away from base. First problem is that Media Monkey is not good with Dropbox and syncing the library using Dropbox between 2 installations. The reason is that Media Monkey stores paths to media files using the drive serial number. So my Dropbox setup is that the file structure is identical on all machines. So I have P:Media on both machines.

    However, to Media Monkey these are two different drives as they have different serial numbers. So a database file on machine 1 opened on machine 2 will show all media as missing even though the path is identical. The option for portable installation of Media Monkey also seems to be based on the library being on a single drive (a removable drive in this case).

    As on machine 2 I really just wanted a player, then MusicBee for me is much better than Media Monkey and unlike

    Media Monkey I can sync the MusicBee database via Dropbox. So new music added on my desktop can be played later in the day on my laptop.

    This still left me with being unable to sync my iPod 4G. How do I get play counts/last played from MusicBee to Media Monkey in order to driveauto playlists that recirculate music not listened to in a while?

    My solution was to use a script ** to sync data between the two. MusicBee can be set to automatically save an iTunes formatted xml file. The script picks up this file and updates Media Monkey with play data (play count, last played date not picked up by the folder monitor) from MusicBee. Media Monkey can be set to monitor folders so on start up it scans the media folder and picks up new tracks and changes in tags (eg ratings). So Media Monkey now has the same data in it that MusicBee has. Almost perfect.

    ** based on the idateadded script by trixmotoadapted by me for my personal use only and hence not mine to distribute.