So, unless you live under a rock, I’m sure you heard that Apple Music was released recently and it has been accompanied with a lot of talk from technology enthusiasts, music enthusiasts and just general iOS device owners too. Apple Music means a whole new market for Apple. Yes they’ve had iTunes for over a decade now and it’s worked absolutely brilliantly and is by far the most used placed to download digital songs. However, streaming music, radio stations, connecting with music artists, these are all new things for Apple and are sure to have required a new mindset from a lot of the creative minds behind that big bitten apple.
After having played around with the application, or should we call it service – for a few days, I thought I’d give my first impressions on it and what it brings to the already quite packed music streaming industry. Spotify, Pandora, Google Play Music All Access, Tidal and more have all tried to take over the music streaming market. Spotify wins by numbers, Pandora is the people’s app, Google Play Music All Access is a mouthful but genuinely solid contender from Google and Tidal seems to have been a bit of a flop from Jay-Z. So can Apple Music stand up to these behemoths of the music industry and what exactly is Beats1?
You Have To Download An Update?
My initial problem with getting Apple Music was having to update my iPad to iOS 8.4. This isn’t going to be a problem for people with rapid internet who constantly check for any updates on their phone or tablet. However, I have a few friends who won’t know any good reason to update other than Apple Music which may not be worth the potential hour (that’s honestly how long my download took) to download the software update. There are others out there whose phones didn’t have the storage space for even iOS7 and so didn’t bother with that and have since not updated as they see no real reason to.
What I’m getting at is that by not simply making the Apple Music app either a separate application or some form of update to the original Music application, Apple have potentially lost out on a few customers already. Admittedly, when iOS9 comes around, those that lagged behind will surely catch up as the OS number jumps a whole 1.
The Set Up
To set up Apple Music, there’s a simple few steps in which it introduces you to the service, asks you to agree to a bunch of terms and conditions and then agree to the plan you want. This initial process could easily confuse people. Despite the fact you get 3 months free trial when you start your account, it does request to take $9.99 (or $14.99 if you choose the family option of 6 people on the same account) from your balance which can feel disconcerting.
After this, you’re asked to select from a limited number of genres and then artists. Oddly, the artists you choose are then the artist you’re following… but what if the artists you actually care about aren’t on the list? Well, you have to keep hitting the “more artists” button until you find them, or you don’t bother. Same thing with the genres tbh. I consider myself to have a fairly wide range of music taste, not the most, Mainly Pop, Dance, Electric, Rn’b, some Country and some other stuff. However, if anyone else wanted to be more specific about what type of music they preferred, they’d be hard set to do.
So the big thing about Apple Music is the ability to stream everything iTunes has ever owned straight to your phone or iPad without download or purchases. This is something we’ve seen from many other services and we’ve seen done well. When it comes to Apple Music, their list of music can easily rival the likes of Spotify and Google Play music All Access having had over ten years to gather an incredible collection of music on iTunes.
The quality you get from the streaming is very impressive too. Personally, I have a poor internet connection and yet I found myself listening to music that could easily be something I’d bought from iTunes itself. This is something Apple will surely push with the service: the great audio quality and the enormous library they already have built up.
Finally, I want to talk about Beats 1. Why? Because Beats 1 is the most interesting thing to happen to radio stations since their introduction nearly a century ago. Beats 1 is a 24/7 service, hosted by multiple DJs from different places in the UK and the US, played in over 100 countries in the world. It’s the first radio station of its kind, offering up unparalleled levels of additional culture to its service and unparalleled reach. Apple Music can be accessed on a desktop, an iPad, an iPhone… but most importantly Android phones (in the Fall.) This is not only important because it’s Apple’s first foray into Android but it’s also important for another big reason. Android has a HUGE audience in places that Apple may not yet have reached. If Apple can get Apple Music and advertise Apple products and services enough via their Beats 1 station, then those listening may like the idea of the sound of Apple.
My first impressions on Beats 1 are that it is definitely different from any other radio station I’ve listened to before. You will hear a British accent talking then a New York Accent and then a New Zealand accent. You’ll also go from listening to the latest Dance track to a Pop track from the 80s to some unheard Hip Hop track, to Eminem’s latest single for a movie. It’s very mixed and feels less controlled than other stations. Beats 1 also pride themselves on taking requests via Twitter (obviously to get the branding seen by others) and then they’ll play as many as they can. This makes it feel more interactive than some other radio stations, something Apple is pushing. The feeling if being able to control your own station and connect with the musicians more. In addition, Beats 1 has no problem with swearing in the middle of the day… But then, that’s the problem with international stations. In New York night, somewhere else in the world it’s the middle of the day.
Apple Music is different, that’s for sure. To me, it feels like the next generation of radio stations. You can’t find it by scrolling through on your car’s stereo, you can only find it on your mobile device or desktop. This is great for the generation of us who have an interest in their phones or want to check out the service. But it is not great for those that want to just listen to the radio. Get what I mean?
Apple Music will undoubtedly be a success. It’s replaced the Music app on the most popular phone on the planet and will surely be advertised with millions of dollars worth of advertisements. Apple Music feels new, it feels controversial, it feels like something a little different from what others are offering. Plus it’s Apple, it’s sure to be a success.