I guess I'm old-school, because I find an old version of WinAmp perfectly good for all my mp3 playback needs
For moving files to/from an iPod, if you're on Windows, I can wholeheartedly recommend Anapod Explorer from Red Chair Software: http://www.redchairsoftware.com/anapod/
It's inexpensive (under $25 for a generic iPod edition, $29.95 gets you a version that supports all iPod models), and with a Windows Explorer integration, it is really slick for copying and managing files on an iPod. Unlike iTunes, it will also download mp3s from an iPod to the computer. I have never bought any DRM-ed mp3s, so I can't say how Anapod fares there (I only play my own CDs, converted with CDEx). It can auto-run in the tray, or can be launched manually as needed, so no annoying services when you don't use them.
If you use Total Commander, you can drag and drop from it to the Anapod folder in Windows Explorer, back and forth. DOpus and other file managers will probably work just as well. No iTunes!
By the way, here's a fun bit of Apple stupidity: I bought my iPod in the US, but they're also sold here in Poland (more expensively, though). You get iTunes on CD with the iPod, but if you want to download a new version of iTunes, it first asks you where you come from (or they figure it out themselves via geolocation, I forget). Well, once they find out the connection is coming from Poland, they give me a page that basically says "iTunes store is not available in your country", and the adventure ends there. That is, just because you can't buy stuff through iTunes if your address is in Poland, they won't even let you download a new version of iTunes to manage the iPod they just sold to you!
The last time I needed iTunes, I had to do a web search for the installer and grab it from a third-party site. Plain stupidity I can ignore, but aggravated stupidity is something else entirely