iTunes 9, which was released by Apple yesterday, has some great new features. The Column Browser has already replaced some of my genre-specific playlists. Having the Column Browser open with both Genre and Artist columns works well. For example, if you just want to listen to hip hop or classical, you can select that genre and instantly have access to everything within. Also, artist playlists are no longer necessary. If you’ve got a U2 playlist, for example, you can now easily just click on the artist name. iTunes has had browsing features in the past, but the new Column Browser is a much more useful and usable format.
In other new features, the Artwork Column makes a nice balance between having the full cover flow and having detailed track listings. Of course, Artwork Column is something that has already existed in Windows Media Player for a while and is the default library view. When Mac users say that Microsoft steals ideas from Apple, it’s quite clear that they’re only looking at one half of the problem, because over the years, Apple has poached many good ideas from Windows. Artwork Column is simply the most recent example. (I’m looking at you, David Huntsman.)
When it comes to good, local music on iTunes, there are a couple of examples that if you hurry, you can partake for free. If you go to the iTunes Store homepage this week, you’ll notice the Free Music Video promo. iTunes runs several free promos each week – with a free song and free video from various artists. The free video this week is the song “Born Again” from Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons. Cory Chisel just released his major label debut on Tuesday, and it’s available right now for $5.99 on iTunes. Cory hails from the Fox Valley, and it’s nice to see a native son get his due. The physical release of Death Won’t Send a Letter is coming on 29 September.
If you’re looking for the vibe on the street in Madison, then you’ll definitely want to check out WSUM 91.7 FM, the student-run radio station at the University of Wisconsin. In iTunes, simply click on Radio in the left-hand menu, then select the College/University category. Scroll down and you’ll see WSUM. If that’s too complicated, simply go to their website at WSUM.org and click the Listen Now 128KBPS link at the upper-right. Now that the academic year has kicked off, WSUM is back in full form.