iTunes Home Sharing
The benefit of the solution described in that support article is that both accounts can access the same shared music files but save the library data to separate files. So, for example, she can rate our music according to her tastes and I to mine.
The huge drawback is that if you make a change that affects the shared music files from one account, the other account won’t know about the change until you update its library data. Which works fine most of the time unless you make a change that moves a music file to a new location within the shared music filesystem.
So, simply put, it worked but it didn’t work well and toward the end it was clear that it wasn’t going to work long-term. We were going to need a better solution.
Enter iTunes Home Sharing.
iTunes 9 has a feature called Home Sharing which doesn’t do what I’d like, but I’ll take it. Basically, they’ve taken the old Sharing feature which let you stream songs from one account to the other and made it possible to copy songs as well. This means that I can have my library, Tabitha can have hers, and we can copy whatever we like between them. It duplicates the media, but oh well.
It works particularly well for us because you have to use the same iTunes account which we already do.
Someday I really hope that we’ll get to the point where iTunes will be smart enough to actually share an iTunes library between accounts. So that certain library data (like where the file lives in the filesystem) will be saved to a shared data file and other personal data (like the rating) will be shared to a personal data file. But since that doesn’t seem to be in Apple’s best interests, I’m glad to see this Home Sharing feature in iTunes 9.