A good friend of mine owns a dance studio. I like to mix music, so I create custom mixes for many of the numbers the studio does for recitals, competitions, and public exhibitions. Over the years, the studio owner has amassed a huge collection of music both off the shelf and custom mixes. Managing that music has become a problem, and as the studio has grown, making sure teachers and helpers have access to the music they need to run classes has become difficult. Since I know a little something about managing and sharing data I decided I would help him out.
The studio almost exclusively uses Apple products: iPhones, iPods, and iPads. So the solution we came up with had to be iOS device friendly. Some other requirements were:
- The solution had to be able to store a large amount of audio
- The solution needed to allow audio files to be shared with multiple devices
- The solution needed to allow us to be able to update the music remotely
- The solution had to make the music available remotely for review and performance use
- The solution needed to make available on all studio devices music and playlists from iTunes
Here is the solution so far. A low cost mini desktop computer with iTunes is at the heart of the solution. We added an external hard drive to store all the music on. Home Sharing lets us share all the music that is cataloged in the iTunes software. Playlists can also be created on the machine and shared so that helpers can find a playlist for the class and have all the music organized and together for a specific class. After you turn on Home Sharing in iTunes you have to add the Apple ID used for Home Sharing to the music settings on the iOS device. This allows the device to access the content stored on the computer’s iTunes library. A Netgear wireless router provides the wireless network connection for all of the devices so they can access the iTunes Home sharing service on the PC. The router also connects the PC and the mobile devices to the Internet. This is the bulk of the set up and is fairly straight forward. We also need to be able to update the songs on the PC when custom mixes are completed. We have been using Microsoft OneDrive for a long time for basically all of our remote requirements so it was an easy decision to continue using it. We store all the current dance season’s music on OneDrive. This allows me to sync all the custom mixes between my computer and the cloud as well as back to the studio computer. Once a song is synced back to the studio computer we can add it to iTunes, making it instantly available to the teachers on their iOS devices. Because the song is still in its original location it remains synced with the cloud, allowing us to also access all of the current year’s music from any mobile device using the OneDrive app or a web browser.
The solution is almost completely wireless. The only wires required are stereo aux cables that are used to connect the iOS devices to the speakers. In the future though adding airplay capabilities to the speaker system or adding Bluetooth receivers will allow the audio to be sent to the speakers wirelessly. This isn’t a requirement for the solution but might be useful in the future. This solution with the airplay or Bluetooth speakers could be duplicated at home in multiple rooms or outside on a patio, allowing you to control and play music wirelessly anywhere in your home.