DJs, what we know about Mac Music (so far)

The rumor mill is true. iTunes will be no more with Apple breaking up the app into separate components which may sound like some welcome news. Gone will be the bloat of having iTunes manage your mobile apps, movies, and the like. But there may be some dark clouds ahead for some time, and everyone should be aware of what is coming this fall.

Now I am basing this information as of June 5th 2019, just two days after WWDC. Things are bound to change so keep that in mind. This is also from a general understanding from WWDC itself, Ars Technica, and a couple of other sources. I have not verified this information on my personal systems because I am not testing out macOS Catilina yet.

Windows Users Don’t Fret, Yet

First things first. It’s safe to say that a significant amount of DJs use iTunes on Windows. The good news is that for the moment Apple seems to not be making changes to the Windows platform. That being said the crystal ball on this is murky. Apple could simply let things fester for a long time on Windows with no clear path, they could announce the breakup of the app in the future, or worse they could sunset it without a proper replacement. While I highly doubt the third option it’s hard to know what is in the minds of top executives over at Apple.

Changing In More Than Name

ArsTechnica reported that there will be a migration tool for iTunes users over to Mac Music. This seems to be confirmed by a user on Facebook who shows that Apple has seemingly changed over from a .xml file over to a .musiclibrary file. Now the real question is if the library structure itself is changed wholesale or if this is just a structure change. From the user that discovered this change in the image below (thanks Ahmed Agbibika) iTunes relies on a .musiclibrary file.

There is a way to generate the typical .xml file that 3rd parties would use, but as of this writing this is a purely manual process.

The new Mac Music library file.

Serato, VDJ, Traktor, Third Parties…

So this is a bit of a structural change for the way 3rd party applications like Serato, Virtual DJ, Traktor, and others may have their work cut out for them. We already know that some simple changes in the past have broken connections with Serato and iTunes in the past, and while this manual generation file works for the moment no one knows what the final product will end up being. This could be a mere annoyance of manually generating the file each time, or it could be worse as we get to the launch date. And as history has shown with applications like Serato they tend to be fairly slow on keeping up with changes in the Apple ecosystem. So what can you do? In reality, there are two options to consider:

Manage Music Inside Your DJ Application

While each 3rd party addresses file management differently, it is certainly possible to manage your music solely in that application than relying on iTunes itself. I’ve written an extensive article on how I migrated from iTunes to Serato (and later VDJ) some years ago that is still relevant today that you may want to check out.

Don’t Upgrade For Some Time

Serato is notoriously reliable for sending out “don’t upgrade” responses, sometimes lasting many months or more. VDJ has seemingly caught up more quickly. But if these are serious changes to contend with it could be some time before these applications are ready to play nice with Mac Music. While I am not an advocate for staying behind the curve in operating systems, the reality is for some people older OSs work just fine. There are still plenty of people running Yosemite or older and still running Scratch Live. Just be sure if you go this path that you realize the older the OS the more prone it is to security issues and the potential of failure without a simple fix increases over time.

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