Tantrums as a service: Ruining an otherwise worthwhile rant


What if they threw an Apple problem and nobody showed up with their feelings? The Macalope wants to live in that world.

Writing for Slate, Leon Neyfakh says “Apple Destroyed My Will to Collect Music.” (Tip o’ the antlers to Michael Valkenberg.)

It wouldn’t be Slate if we weren’t dragged through some dark rollercoaster ride of the soul.

Just like every recipe ever posted to a foodie blog has to be preceded by the author’s personal Eat, Pray, Love of what this Wednesday night mac-n-cheese with frankfurters means to them — “I finally feel… home again.” — we have to suffer through the writer’s personal journey to discovery before we get actual answers.

Last week, an astonishing blog post

Blog posts… to astonish!

…by a man named James Pinkstone circulated on social media.

As Neyfakh wrote the words “circulated on social media”, somewhere the chapter of a journalism book on how to write a compelling lede spontaneous caught on fire. Local authorities were at a loss to explain the case of seemingly causeless combustion.

But we know why it happened.

In it, Pinkstone claimed that he had lost 20 years’ worth of music files as a result of signing up for Apple Music…

Not exactly. Here’s Pinkstone:

I recovered my original music files only by using a backup I made weeks earlier.

But back to “Freaking The Heck Out”, already in progress.

None of it made sense to me, and when I thought for too long about the impact iTunes was having on the texture and structure of my music consumption, I was overcome with a bitter sense of loss.

Not that iTunes isn’t a hippo dressed in a hummingbird outfit and desperately fluttering in front of a lily, but the touchy-feely part of Neyfakh’s complaint is more about the digitization of music and the move to subscription plans. Apple may have popularized the former but it’s famously late to the game in the latter.

These days when I want to listen to music, I consistently just put on either a streaming playlist that’s been curated for me by somebody else, or whichever big album happened to come out most recently…

How did this happen to me?

[Brando voice] The horror of curated music collections. The horror.

There are, obviously, choices here that Neyfakh doesn’t mention. If you prefer to curate your own music, maybe don’t use a subscription service. The benefit of a subscription service for people who listen to a lot of music is price.

Free will is clearly dead, however, and we are all mere lambs to the slaughter of reasonably priced, easy to find music. Just as Orwell predicted in his seminal book about a dystopian future of the music industry, 1989. (When he woke up today the Macalope didn’t think he’d be writing a George Orwell/Taylor Swift mashup joke but… here we are.)

At the root of the problem is that the iTunes interface is now designed first and foremost to seamlessly integrate with other Apple products.

Now you’re complaining about the stuff that actually works. The one thing the Macalope truly loves about Apple Music is being able to update a playlist from any device and instantly having that change reflected on his iPhone, his iPad, his Mac, his Apple TV, his Sonos and, some day soon, his Apple Car (disclaimer: not any day soon at all).

The truth is I am a helplessly unreliable narrator in this story, because whenever I use iTunes, I find that I have absolutely no idea what’s going on, or what the consequences of my actions will be.

The Macalope is not here to absolve Apple. iTunes is frustrating and when something gets deleted, either through user error or a bug, it makes sense that it elicits a pretty strong reaction because you’re already kind of upset. And some of this is spot on:

It doesn’t make sense that everyone I know who still uses iTunes despises it, and that many people, including me, have abandoned it in favor of streaming because managing their libraries became too much of a chore.

But, once again, we get a perfectly fine rant about an Apple problem — iTunes and Apple Music being a confusing mess — buried in about 10,000 metric tons of blazzlefrozzle, including (and the horny one is not making this up) how this situation gave Neyfakh actual hives. There are not two, not three, but twenty-three paragraphs of table flipping set off by Apple deliberately deleting someone’s files before we learn that’s not what happened, Pinkstone was misinformed by an Apple representative. (Pinkstone, by the way, has since been contacted by Apple which is trying to track down how his music was actually deleted.)

Ultimately I did achieve some clarity, thanks almost entirely to an Apple Music expert named, appropriately enough, Serenity Caldwell.

So, you Googled it. Finally.

The Macalope doesn’t know that Neyfakh started keying this rant before reading some other more staid analysis and then decided not to reorganize it to make it more informative, but it sure reads that way. And, ultimately, putting what really happened up at the top was an option, right?

No, dear reader. For that is not how the world of Apple coverage goes around.

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