Just a few days ago, Apple released it’s streaming music service dubbed Apple Music (or MUSIC). Apple music is the result of Apple’s acquisition of Beats and is meant to compete with current music streaming services such as Pandora or Spotify. Apple Music is available for $9.99 a month, which is fairly standard pricing for music streaming services. The real value comes in the form of Apple Music’s family plan. For only $14.99 a month, up to 6 people in your iCloud “Family” can get the full Apple Music experience. Even without a subscription, however, one can still access iTunes radio which has been available for sometime now, as well as Apple’s 24/7 radio station called Beats 1.
Beats 1 is the first worldwide 24-hour radio station. Apple has hired top DJ’s in London, L.A. and New York to man the helm and offer a variety a music ‘round the clock. My experience with Beats 1 has been somewhat limited as they play fairly popular music, which currently consists of EDM style music along with a mix of popular hip-hop and rock. Not my favorite genres. That being said, even though the music hasn’t been my style, I’ve quite enjoyed what I have heard. Being that the station is worldwide, they don’t play just the American hits. I’ve discovered several international artists that I have enjoyed and would probably have never heard if it wasn’t for Beats 1. On top of it all, there’s something enticing about a worldwide radio station. The idea that people from China, Kuwait, Morocco and myself are all listening to the same tune together… it just screams unity.
Beats’ Recommendation Engine
Apple has also repurposed the recommendation engine that Beats used. This was personally one of my favorite features of Beats. You selected several genres you liked, removed some you didn’t, and then repeated the process with a list of artists. After this process Beats would recommend music and playlists based on your selections. In my experience, these curated playlists were awesome. I discovered so much music that I love thanks to the discovery engine. Now, this entire process has been migrated from Beats to Apple Music and it still works just as beautifully.
“Add to My Music”
The best part of Apple Music has got to be the ability to add anything from Apple’s library to your own personal library. I have had a wish list of albums and songs in iTunes that I have just never got around to purchasing. With Apple Music I was not only able to add every song from that list to my library, I was able to download them to my iPhone/Mac/iPad/WATCH for offline listening. The satisfaction I get from being able to stream anything available within iTunes is immeasurable. And stream it does. The download speeds are zippy and the songs begin to play almost instantaneously once you select them. There is no lag and no hiccups during playback. I’ve been an iTunes Match subscriber for sometime, and on the whole, it’s been somewhat disappointing. Downloading music from my library is painful, laggy, and anything but fluid. Apple Music changed all of that for the better.
Lastly, Apple has revived iTune’s failed social network “Ping” in the form of Apple Music’s “Connect.” With Connect, you can follow your favorite artists and get notified of new songs or records, or even just updates where the artists reach out to fans in some way. Maybe announcing a show, or sharing a photo/video. It’s an interesting idea, but thus far the content itself has been somewhat uninteresting. This may be due to the fact that the bands I choose to follow are somewhat eclectic and probably do not participate in Connect as much as some of the more popular groups would. Nonetheless, I’m probably not alone in this boat, which makes Connect somewhat pointless for myself and others.
All in all Apple Music is a great value. Having the iTunes library at one’s fingertips is amazing. Admittedly iTunes doesn’t carry everything I personally listen to, maybe 75% or so. But the convenience and ease of use make it worth every penny. I highly recommend Apple Music.