Time to ditch iTunes - but how to manage a large music library?

OK I think my patience has finally run out. Apple’s new Music app in Catalina has eliminated it’s most useful management feature, the Column Browser. Clearly Apple feels only casual pop listeners matter and that there’s no more room for collectors who’ve built large libraries on their software for almost 20 years.

I’m looking for your solutions for managing my library. In iTunes, the most powerful tools were:

  • Column Browser for easy navigation of a large library
  • Grouping - which was useful for sub-genres
  • Star Ratings - for separating wheat from chaff on a useful scale
  • Smart Playlists - to collect groups of songs in a large library

As great as it is as a player, Roon is not yet ready to be a serious management platform. it just can’t ‘slice and dice’ a large library in a useful way. I realize many people are moving to NUCs and Nucleus’ and the like, but I still need to be able to manage my library in a fast and flexible way. None of the streaming services offers a robust music management platform.

How do you manage your library to gain control of a large library?


I use foobar2000 (and can even customize to make it look mostly like the old style column browser itunes look). But I’m using windows. Not sure if foobar2000 available for Mac.

I am one of those collectors and I am as pissed as you are.

But I’ve seen this coming for a long time. The fact is, the kids don’t collect music and Apple has never had a good eco-system for sharing music across devices, other than MusicMatch and Apple Music. The world belongs to Spotify (I know Apple claims big subscriber numbers, but they are giving it away - I have a free Apple Music subscription from Verizon).

I am learning to live without iTunes and replacing it with Roon. I use XLD for ripping/transcoding and Metadactics (macOS app) for tagging. Then I drop the music into Roon.

It first, I was missing iTunes features for “slicing and dicing”, but I’ve learned to replacing everything I used to do in iTunes with Roon’s tag, focus and bookmark features. It takes some getting used to, but I’ve managed to build collections that mimic (and improve upon) what I did in iTunes.

With the macOS Catalina “dumpster fire”, I am moving on and saying goodbye to Apple for managing my music library.

I am a little worried how I am going to export music for playback in my car and with my Walkman (both of which are now done using DougScripts and iTunes), but I’ve been using Soundiiz to create matching playlists from my iTunes collection on Spotify.

I’m afraid being a digital music “collector” is a dead hobby.


Have a look at media monkey

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If you really feel the need to dominate your music, get JRiver. So many columns, so much control. Also, learn their expression language.
Seriously, I use it for that, but only when I absolutely have to. It is a completely loveless experience. It is the mirror opposite of Roon.


HI, I need some help also. I want to end my iTunes connection to Roon. So, right now, I have my iTunes library on a Synology NAS with Roon getting the music from the file. What are the best steps to take to have Roon see a new music folder with just the music on my NAS? The iTunes playlists, about 50, I would export to Tidal and Spotify via Soundiiz.

Can’t fathom how column browser could go away … but here we are. Haven’t seen any other good way to manage a library of several thousand ripped CDs. Workflow was: (1) rip into iTunes, (2) correct/manage metadata in iTunes, (3) allow Carbon Copy to move iTunes library changes to Synology at night, (4) enjoy music collection via Synology-based Roon core. Have tried to fiddle with the new Apple Music app … somehow using smart playlists to emulate the genre column of Column Browser, but it just doesn’t work well. Have been testing Swinsian, and its Column Browser, and it seems promising for “Step 2” above, but there’s another loose end looming large; namely, that there’s no Apple Lossless encoder in Swinsian … or anywhere else other than iTunes/Music. Ugh. As someone who has 3000 CDs ripped into Apple Lossless, am concerned about Apple’s long-term commitment to the format. Initially chose Apple Lossless over FLAC on the assumption there would be long-term commitment to quality/consistency and decoder support, but was that right? Roon could definitely be my main metadata management tool if it only had a column browser option.


DBPoweramp will allow you to easily and quickly (batch mode processing) convert your Apple Lossless to FLAC.


Have a look at Swinsian. Designed how Apple’s iTunes once was as a music player and organizer. But with extra’s like FLAC support.


^ Looks really interesting.

I can’t tell from the web site if Swinsian will let you export an M3U playlist, but if it does, I am all in.

dbpoweramp can also encode to Apple Lossless.

p.s. Unless a real need for apple lossless format, FLAC is better based on the fact that FLAC files contain an embedded CRC, which allows automated testing of your music library for any corrupt files. Very useful after moving/backing up files to a different drive. Apple Lossless and WAV files do not contain an embedded CRC.


Why not download it and try?
I use it mainly for organising my library, but using it as a player is very fine too. But I prefer Roon for playing…

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I’m checking the software as I write, and yes, it has a playlist export option (with m3u8, which is something I’ve been missing).

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Ah great! You can play with it for 30 days without any cost and than decide.

For syncing to a USB stick I use in my car, and to Foobar mobile on my iPhone, I have been using TuneFusion - worth a look in my opinion


Good luck

You can always use the “Export”-function in Roon for transferring your current favorite musik to a USB stick. It will not convert them to something less big though.

To rip and pre-tag I use XLD or dBpoweramp.
To tag and organize afterwards I use Swinsian or Metadatics.
I play with Roon of course, my library is stored on a Nucleus.
Both Swinsian and Roon point to the same library folder just like iTunes and Roon did before.
I did reorganize the library folder structure after ditching iTunes.

For in my car I keep an AAC compressed copy of the library, I compress new music with dBpoweramp into that folder. (256kbps VBR AAC)
I sync that folder with Carbon Copy Cloner to a 256GB USB stick that can be used from the car’s console just like the iPod Classic I had before, the car can read both the folder structure and metadata.
Now I think of it I could point “Music” to that compressed library so I have it on my iPhone and iPad as well via iTunes Match or stored on the devices.

Some advice needed on a Swinsian-like amp for Windows though: I narrowed it down to two: MusicBee and JRiver. Why would I take one over the other?

One is free (MusicBee) and one is not (JRiver).

Nice! Did not know that function was in Roon.

I played around with this; exports an Artist/Album/Tracks structure, with a Playlists folder containing an m3u matching the playlist I exported, with tracks referenced with “…/Artist/Album/Track”.

This is most of what I need. I can use XLD to transcode and Emacs (a text editor - yes, I am that old) to edit playlists to match (e.g. change .aiff to .m4a).

The missing piece of the puzzle: exporting a folder.jpg … not sure I need this for my car’s player or not.

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