I see in the original post you mention that you prefer free software, but I'd also like to mention two non-free applications that are indispensable for me.
Like many other Swing dance DJs, I use one application to organize-and-preview songs, and another application for playing songs. I'm on a Mac, and the two applications I use are:
<strong>Swinsian</strong> for previewing. Swinsian has a similar layout as iTunes and iTunes-like apps. It's been very fast and flexible for me. Over the last decade or so, it's been the one application I've used the longest. The developer has been responsive to feature requests and bug fixes. In addition, Swinsian has supported FLAC for a long time, which is a requirement for me.
<strong>Embrace</strong> for playing. Embrace was created by a social dancer for DJing social dances. I've been using it for a few months now, and I really love it. It has a very simple interface, and many built-in features that are specifically created for DJing a social dance. My favorite feature is the ability to set the duration of silence in between each track. With Embrace I can have it auto-stop after every song, so that I manually start each track—this is my preferred way to DJ.
I hope this helps!
I don’t know how you came to the conclusion Apple broke something though… Kind of wondering what tipped you off?
As to a silver bullet, wouldn’t my rsync/fswatch suggestion work? It’s similar in principle to your old script is what I understand, and would allow you to keep local copies. Or maybe I missed that it’s your script in conjunction with Apple’s Music app that broke…
> and I kind of hate "Music" anyhow - I just need a different/better way to manage playlists, etc.. ;-)
Been using Swinsian for a while now and it’s fine. It’s a one-time purchase and sadly cruelly lacks a dark mode, but it’s an option, and quite capable at that. The Music app is just for my Apple Music subscription; my big, fat lossless collection goes on an external drive for now, and Swinsian’s what I use to manage it.
I’d look at Swinsian. It does everything you need - album art fetching, metadata updates, powerful search, reliably connects to NAS, and broad audio format support.
The other option which the audiophile community really likes is Roon. It’s a big jump up in functionality and also price... but if audio is your thing, it’s pretty much the go-to right now.
I’d stay far away from iTunes/Music.
swinsian is an older, more matured library-based music player that is inspired by older itunes releases. it has a number of power user features, though it has no dark mode yet. works very well, if it isn't native for m1 (i haven't checked) it still performs like it is.
doppler is a much more recent release, bit more modern design but still fairly light on features. i hear the dev is very responsive to requests or at least communicative on what plans are and what's being worked on.
both have gracious free trials to test and see if they will meet your needs!
The most iTunes like big music library app is Swinsian, works with big libraries, does play FLAC. https://swinsian.com/
There's a project called "Retroactive" that makes old versions run on newer MacOS, so u can get the classic iTunes back, but it's experimental.
site is down at the moment, but i've been using swinsian for years and can't find anything else that compares
it doesn't have dark mode yet but is still being developed. i wish we had more powerful, feature rich and beautifully designed (native design, at that) library-oriented music players but it feels like options have completely dried up in the past 5 years
I use beets for tagging/organizing and Swinsian for playback and love it. Also have a remote server that mirrors my library to Plex for streaming FLAC on my home theater setup.
If beets is too complex, check out MusicBrainz Picard which basically does the exact same stuff but with a graphical interface.
If you're on a Mac, Swinsian is pretty good. (swinsian.com) And, it can be a pretty text-heavy interface if that's preferred. I hate all the garbage like album cover-art that's just used for tracking purposes in music apps. If you're still ripping CD's XLD does a nice job of ripping FLAC files. (my preferred format) On, Linux, Rhythmbox is pretty decent.
A bunch of candidates are described in a dozen or more listacles if you google “Mac music app”. I’ll assume you’ve already done that.
Of the apps I’ve actually tried, Swinsian seems the best direct replacement for iTunes as a music library manager and player. But it’s been a while since it got any major updates, so...
Free trial, $25 to buy it. Given the polish, it’s worth it.
I’d recommend Swinsian and put all your songs on your NAS. Apple Music/iTunes works terribly with a NAS, especially with a large number of songs. I have 30,000+ songs in this setup and works perfectly.
I’ve a substantial library (approaching a terabyte I think?) and have been using Swinsian for years as my music player and library manager on the Mac. It offers an iTunes-like experience with (necessary for me) native FLAC support. I’ve used it both with the library located locally and on a network share. The developer has been friendly and responsive the couple or few times I’ve had a question. There is no iOS version however, so I don’t know if playlist synchronization between your i-devices is possible.
The iTunes to Music transition was terrible. Apple blew it. Music app is 100% garbage. I’d recommend looking at Swinsian. It’s a better iTunes and has library importing.
As far as the other things you mentioned, sounds like a Synology NAS would be helpful for you. You can offload your large media library to it.
I had the WORST time trying to get iTunes to work with NAS. iTunes server is apparently buggy and not really being developed anymore. The MacOS Catalina switch to the Music app was buggy as hell.
I moved to Swinsian and have had zero problems.
https://swinsian.com/ is a nice player. Not as fancy as iTunes was, but I like it best so far. If you want something simple, I very much recommend https://kode54.net/cog - that gives you also a folder view and more of a winamp-like experience. I use that to play stuff directly and Swinsian for a full AAC encoded copy of my library.
I own Roon and Plex, and love Roon for music, though Plex has come a long way in recent versions. I run both concurrently so I can use Plex’s Plexamp mobile app for quickly downloading albums to my phone for offline playback.
If you’re looking for a direct iTunes replacement, I would check out Swinsian. It’s gorgeous and lean.
Having similar, frustrating issues with Apple Music. They broke so many things going from iTunes to Music it’s insane. Basically unusable for anyone who has a large music library now.
I’ve been looking around and not terribly impressed. The best I’ve found so far are Swinsian and VLC. Never used Swinsian, but looks like iTunes on steroids. VLC is the old standby, solid, but basic is some features.
The loss of Column Browser in Music is the #1 reason for me holding out on Catalina. Why destroy an essential power user feature that has been around since iTunes version 1, to be replaced by an uglier version of the iOS app???!!!
In the meantime, there is the Swinsian app: https://swinsian.com
On a Mac, my favorite iTunes alternative is the Swinsian application, it does not sync ipods at all however. But it's otherwise a very iTunes-like (circa 2006) application and has a free trial, then a one time $25 fee for the full version. It's regularly updated and Catalina ready.
I gave up on ipods when my third or fourth ipod hard-drive died of the "click of death", glad to be done with them. I've gotten used to using drag-n-drop mp3 players like Sansa Clip, an off brand Chinese player (Dodocool HiFi player), and Android devices primarily. My work phone is an iphone however, and that brought me back to using an Apple device to listen to music sometimes.
Besides iTunes, I like to use the music player Swinsian , which works well with the mac. I've had it for a year or two. It's like a modernized version of iTunes from 2007 or so, when all iTunes primarily did was organize your music (but without the store). It also does podcasts and a lot of features I never use. It has a trial version available to try out.
I personally use Swinsian. It's pretty stable, with few updates. It's customizable enough for me, it works perfectly with beets and has a really cool Touch Bar integration.
After my Windows laptop died I picked up a insanely cheap MBP ,only to find out that OSX won’t play .flac flies.
Came across [Swinsian]](https://swinsian.com/) which works beautifully, consistently updated and it isn’t iTunes.
I use Swinsian and while it's not free, it was worth it for me. The player is simple, stable, fast, and flexible. It reminds me of foobar2000, which is my player of choice in Windows.
I use Swinsian, which is a stripped-down version of iTunes. Very smooth, responsive, able to read iTunes Library file (.xml), has Last.fm connectivity, and more. I only use iTunes to add files to the library, but I use Swinsian to listen to my music.