Six Apps and Services That Want to Make You Quit Using iTunes

This post is part of a series that revisits some of our readers’ favorite articles from the past that still contain awesome and relevant information that you might find useful. This post was originally published on September 20th, 2011.

While I’ve used iTunes for the longest time, and it works pretty much as my media center; I have to come to terms with the fact that it isn’t as great as it could be. It’s heavy, slow, glitchy and at times I find it very annoying.

Ditching iTunes is especially enticing when you now have all these new options available: apps that go from streaming free music, to playing you a personalised radio with music that suit your musical tastes. iTunes is still my main music app, but it’s being quickly overtaken by some of these other options.

Radio Services

Smart radio services that use information from your library, have become the best way to find new music as you are guaranteed to find something that you like. and Pandora are the most popular, although there are also some options for your regular internet radio listening. is a web app that lets you do a lot of things: store a history of everything you listen to, friend people and compare music tastes, comment on new music, join groups, check info on events, and many more things. It makes music a social experience, but one of the things that makes it so great is the radio service, which lets you listen to “stations” that are related to your music library. You can’t really choose one song and play it, you just pick a station and listen or skip whatever comes on.

The Mac app for isn’t that complete, but it does a good job at keeping up with your “scrobbles” and it also lets you listen to the radio service of the web app. It won’t sustitute your music player, but it’s a good companion to it.

Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later



I like to think of Pandora as a more serious version of, without many of the community pieces that make so great. I’ve never been a user of Pandora, since it is only supported in a few countries, but I’ve always felt that it is a more professional version of its main competitor. Pandora gives you access to a bigger library, and easier accessibility to it. For example, unlike, you can play the station of an artist and hear music from the artist as well as related music to him; while will play you anything but music from the selected artist.

Obviously, Pandora is a web service but with apps like Pandoras Box, you can listen right from your Mac menu bar. To use third party apps, Pandora requires you to be a paid subscriber.

Price: Free/$36 per year
Requires: Mac OS X 10.5 or later

Other Radio Apps

A few months back I did a roundup on radio apps, which includes a number of apps that let you listen to regular internet radio stations, and not just recommendations. Apps like Radium for example, that sit in your menu bar and let you choose a genre of music or a specific radio station as fast as you can think about it.

Streaming Services


This newcomer in the U.S. had made quite a good impression for our UK fellows since it came out there a couple of years ago. Spotify U.S. lets you stream almost any kind of music that you could imagine, and it’s free (well, “freemium”). Unless you buy a subscription you’ll get a few short ads every now and then, but the amount of music available in the app is unbelievable and unrivaled by any other streaming service.

The Spotify app for Mac is surprisingly great. It has support for scrobbling, playlists, queues, and it can even play music from your iTunes library, so you can altogether stop using iTunes (which is what I have been doing since Spotify US came out).

Price: Free, $4.99/mo, or $9.99/mo
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6 or later


Spotify’s most capable competitor promises you can “listen to anything, anytime, without ads”. I have not used it myself as it’s only available in the US and Canada, but from what I’ve heard the library is great and the service is even better than Spotify. The downside here is that there is no “free” plan like the one Spotify has. There are two kinds of subscription, but they are priced at $5 and $10 per month.

While Rdio is mostly web-based, you can download a Mac or Windows app that lets you stream music directly to your desktop, and it even gives you mobile streaming access (and offline storage) at its most expensive subscription, much like Spotify does.

Price: $5/mo or $10/mo
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6 or later

iTunes Alternatives

iTunes is a tool that you almost can’t avoid these days. You have to use it to sync your iOS devices, buy apps or other kinds of media, store books, etc. But as iTunes’ functionality has grown, it has become a heavy and slow app, filled with stuff everywhere. Sometimes you just want to play a few tunes from your library without having to deal with iTunes, and that’s what these apps are for. They may not sync with your iPod or let you buy and rent movies, but they will play your music just fine!.


Vox is a lightweight iTunes alternative. It can access your whole library, but without slowing down your computer or the app itself. Unlike iTunes, it has support for a bunch of formats other than the usual MP4 and AAC; and also unlike iTunes, Vox lets you tweak sound and mess around with a number of settings.

Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X 10.5 or later
Developer: AleNofx


Miro is perhaps the most complete competitor for iTunes. Not only can it play your music: it also has built-in support for Amazon’s MP3 store, video support (with way more formats than iTunes), support for Hulu and YouTube and many, many other things. Although the music part of it isn’t that great, it is certainly worth it to check it out just because of all the features that it has to offer.

Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X 10.5 or later
Developer: Participatory Culture Foundation


The music industry is, probably more than any other industry, in constant evolution. Personalized radio services (like Pandora) used to be seen as the newest and coolest way of listening to music, but with new streaming services like Spotify and Rdio, this is now debatable. These services make the concept of buying music a thing from the past, and they offer such accessible prices that you just can’t help but feel attracted to what they offer.

However, there’s also the need of keeping up with music libraries not only on your desktop, but also in your mobile devices. In my opinion, that’s what’s keeping music stores like the iTunes one afloat. Streaming services may be the future, but they still have some shortcomings to resolve.

Which service or app do you use? Are you still buying music from the iTunes or some other store? My music listening process is really divided nowadays: I keep up with everything I listen to on, I listen to a lot of new music on Spotify and I keep the music that I really like on iTunes or by buying the vinyls. I should say though, I barely even open the iTunes app anymore, since Spotify lets me access my library from the app. What about you?