First Thoughts on Apple Music

Last week I wrote about the headache that I had signing up for the Apple Music trial, but I didn’t actually talk much about the service itself.  This is partly because I was at church camp that week, and I hadn’t had much time to play around with Apple Music.  That’s changed now.  After a little over a week with the service, I think I can safely say that I think Apple Music will be a success; it’s definitely a success in my book.

Apple Music is, at heart, a streaming service.  This means that you have access to the entire catalog of music for one flat subscription rate.  However, Apple Music does something that Spotify didn’t do.  Apple Music jumpstarts your streaming library with the songs you already have on your device, both from ripped CDs and the iTunes Store.  However, after that Apple Music wants you to explore.  This brings me to the Music app’s new layout.  There are five tabs at the bottom, For You, New, Radio, Connect, and My Music.

For You
When you first sign up for Apple Music, it asks you what genres of music you like the most.  After that, it asks you what artists you like (from a list based on the genres you picked).  Apple Music uses this information to start the For You section.  Over time, as you “like” songs (with a heart button), these suggestions become more refined.  I’ve found the For You tab to be pretty cool, especially when it lists an artist I’ve heard on the radio once or twice but don’t really know.  However, I don’t know how much I’ll be using this tab.

New
This tab I’m more excited for.  I mostly listen to Christian music, and I like that you can filter this tab by genre (although I wish it’d remember what genre I’ve picked).  Right off the bat I’m seeing new songs from Hillsong, MercyMe, and for KING & COUNTRY.  This is a sign of good things to come.

Radio
The spotlight of the Radio tab is Apple’s new, worldwide, 24/7 radio station called Beats 1.  This isn’t set up like Pandora, with a computer algorithm picking songs for you.  This is more like a traditional radio station, with DJs and interviews as well as music.  I haven’t really listened to it (like I said, I’m mostly interested in Christian music), but I definitely like the idea of a hosted station.  I used to listen to the radio a lot, and it’s fun getting to know DJs and hearing their stories and news.  The radio tab also has more traditional internet radio stations, based off genres, artists, and the like.  From the little bit I’ve used it, the Christian genre station is really good.

Connect
Connect is an interesting tab.  It’s almost like a social network for artists, a place for them to post songs, lyrics, videos, and other (sometimes exclusive) content.  It’s also a place for them to make announcements about upcoming albums.  This is a cool idea; the problem is that it gets crowded quickly.  On Spotify, I followed all my favorite artists mostly just to get notified of new releases, but then I just got a bunch of stuff about new playlists they’d made.  A little disappointing.

My Music
Up until this point, it seems I’ve been rationalizing why each tab isn’t for me (except for New I guess).  However, My Music where the rubber meets the road for Apple Music.  Apple Music lets me listen to just about whatever I want, whenever I want.  That’s fantastic.  The My Music tab is split into two sections.  The first shows all music by artist, album, etc.  This view is pretty self-explanatory.  The second view focuses on playlists.  Unlike most of the other discovery tools on Apple Music, I am excited about playlists.  All the playlists on Apple Music were created by real people – not computer algorithms.  This seems really cool to me.  There’s nothing worse than listening to a great Pandora station when all of a sudden the mood is killed by an out of place song.  So far my favorite playlists have been the “Intro to *Artist*” playlists.  These are a cool way to get into someone’s music.  I just wish they were available for more artists.

So as you can see, I’m pretty bullish on Apple Music.  It’s not perfect, and the app is actually kind of buggy right now, but that will get better with subsequent updates.  As of now, I’m pretty sure my family’s going to pay for it in a few months (once we get this whole trial mess sorted out), and I can definitely see myself using it.  A lot.  I just need to figure out if Apple Music is included in T-Mobile’s unlimited music streaming deal…  ••

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