Months before WWDC, we heard the rumours. Apple’s music streaming service was in its works. We had seen iTunes, Ping and Radio, and this was a step up to all the three.
Welcome Apple Music.
Okay, its not surprising. iTunes is probably the largest collection of online music. It is (and was always) supported whole-heartedly by artists and was an outstanding invention by Jobs’ Apple. And the radically different yet similar Apple announced that all this music from iTunes will be streamed. Thats really good news, isn’t it?
Yes it is. Apple Music had to happen: although the number of apps bought per minute increased tremendously, the number of songs bought per minute decreased constantly. The reason was simple: fast, accessible internet everywhere made people ditch buying songs and instead preferred buying monthly subscription to listen to all their favourite music. Thus formed a whole new industry of apps and services that took to streaming music rather than creating stores for music.
Spotify is todays top music streaming service. It has 75 Million people on it. 75 Million. And although it catalogue doesn’t even come close to the number of songs iTunes has, people prefer paying the $10 monthly fee to listen to all the top songs in prearranged playlists. Spotify has boomed, so have other streaming services; and now most music that is played in the world is streamed via the godfather internet.
Apple Music, according to me, is a wise move. Not because I like it so much already, but because its inevitably iTunes and trusty Apple. Apple Music is the company’s music streaming service. It has three major parts to it: Music, Radio and Connect. Music is the normal stuff - streaming songs of your choice or from curated playlists. Radio is an update to the iTunes Radio that came two years back. Apple, having bought Beats Music, has created the Beats One radio that plays 24/7 in over a hundred countries. It is a remarkable feat in the sogginess of internet radio. Beats One will be streamed from 3 cities: LA, NYC and London and will be headed by world renowned jockeys. Connect, the third part, is ‘a social network for artists’. Artists can upload pictures or movies of their upcoming songs, write to their fans and of course, grow their audience. Connect aims to close the gap between artists and their listeners.
That is basically Apple Music, in its simplest terms. Music is arriving on 30 June, with a free 3 month trial after which users need to pay $10/month per person of $15/month for 6 family members. The Radio and Connect features will continue to remain free. Also, Music will come to Windows and Android in the via iTunes and an all new Music app respectively.
However, not everything about Music is rosy. Even before trying it, I have complaints.
Paying $10/month of both Music and Spotify, Spotify streams at a bitrate of 320 kbps while Music, 256. Its not a huge difference, but I feel Apple could have done better. They have the high quality music right there on iTunes, but they don’t want to stream it at the higher bitrate. I wonder why?
My second complain is about keynote itself. Apple put Drake (a great artist but a bad public speaker) on stage to emphasise that the playlists on Music are human curated. True, we are better than computers, but is this a feature to brag about? I doubt all those amazing playlists on Spotify are machine made (except the global charts, of course). I feel Apple could have invested more time of the keynote to explain how artists will benefit from Music, for they are the soul of the service.
Whatever the problems, I’m looking forward to the service. Its the first time Apple has ventured into this billion dollar industry, and It’ll take some time to prove its expertise.
Apple Music will either be a hit or a miss. I’m expecting a hit, but the insane competition from other services like Spotify might derail Apple’s efforts. Let the numbers speak of themselves!
Beats One, I’ll love it.
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