Why I Moved to Apple Music: 4 Reasons
Apple was a little late to get to the streaming music market, but they made a great splash when they introduced Apple Music earlier this year. As 2015 draws to a close, it's done amazingly well in such a competitive marketplace, with over 15 million users and around half of those subscribing to the service. That's pretty good for a service that has been on the market for less than a year.
I've tossed around using many, MANY streaming services since Pandora was first launched back in the day, and I think I might have finally found my ultimate music service after a very, very long search.
These are the reasons why I've stopped my musical streaming search journey, and stuck with Apple Music.
Probably the most surprising aspect of Apple Music is Beats Radio, something I thought I honestly would hate. Headed up by Zane Lowe, it's literally a radio station, streaming live 24/7 on Apple Music. The best part? You don't have to be a Apple Music "subscriber" to use the feature. If you dig new music of any genre, and want some help in getting introduced to some of that new music (for free), look no further. It's something that has never been done in this type of format before, and kudos for Apple for trying it. While it doesn't always suit me depending on what I'm looking to experience, I can say that I'm usually a person who doesn't care what genre of music I'm listening to...I just want to listen to good music in general. For the most part, Beats One delivers on that aspect. It certainly isn't perfect....the celebrity DJ aspects, I could care less about. I don't want to listen to Elton John's hour, or the HAIM girls talking about their favorite Los Angeles bands. I think we all know that those artists are getting a little help in "picking" their songs, so I'd rather have that time filled with interviews or something a little more pertinent. Still....Beats One is something that makes Apple definitely unique in the streaming music marketplace, and that's an accomplishment given the crowded marketplace.
Before I landed with Apple Music, my favorite streaming service was Mog Music. That service was bought out by Dr. Dre's Beats brand, but was just relabeled as Beats Music...nothing really changed except the branding. That was good....because one of the things that Mog Music did REALLY well was curate music for you. Now, lots of other streaming services curate music. At the time, Mog went about in a slightly different way: it was through editor playlists, not automatic computer generated analytic playlists. It also did it in high quality music, while I'll get to later.
In any case, it was refreshing. I noticed that it was a great mix of playlists (which are this generation's mixtape equivalent) of both old and new music. I had an absolute blast with it, as it fit my consumption model just fine. I play music as well as ingest it, and when you're playing with either original bands or cover bands for some money on the weekend, learning songs/riffs/patterns is done through a myriad of playlists. It fit wonderfully well with the selection.
Fast forward to Apple Music, and this has largely remained unchanged. Apple has pulled bigger resources, yes, and reskinned Beats Music.....but at the end of the day, it's still the great Mog Music I had enjoyed years earlier. That's not a bad thing. Also, while I don't usually consume albums whole anymore (sorry Taylor Swift), the choice of albums I get in my "For You" section is absolutely fantastic. It augments my choices that I had set on the first load up of Apple Music wonderfully well, and I'll even load up a couple of albums just for the hell of it. It's one of the things that, again, helps set Apple Music as unique.
iTunes Library Integration
If you're in the iOS ecosystem, it's almost a no-brainer option to go with Apple Music. While I can't say I've bought a ton of music through iTunes over the years, what I did buy was iTunes Match.....Apple's service that takes your existing iTunes library (locally on your Mac or PC) and uploads that information into the iTunes cloud nether sphere: what you get is your entire library available for streaming on any Apple device. As someone who curated tons of music via CD (I'm 32, shut it...I'm not old), my library was pretty vast already. So, I decided to try it. Not unlike Google Music and other services of the same sort that will let you upload your music collection, having the ability to take your library with you was a great thing. While that changed a bit when good music streaming services came along, it's like my own private streaming collection was with me all the time.
Now, with Apple Music, it's all centrally located in one place. While some people view it as a negative, I view it as a positive: the fact that I don't know where my own personal library from CDs ends and the digital streaming service begins. It's a completely seamless integration that, honestly, only Apple could really pull off. Again...this isn't perfect as far as the interfaces go....that leaves a lot to be improved on. But, the fact that I don't have to switch between multiple libraries is a great thing.
A feature that, honestly, I could have cared less about when it was first introduced with Apple Music, Siri will act as your musical assistant as well as the assistant on your iDevices. After trying out Siri with Apple Music, you just won't go back. How convenient is it to just say...."play that song from Ferris Bueller", or to play some music from your favorite artist of choice. I can't tell you how many times that I got in my vehicle to head home after a long day of work, and just wanted to listen to something electronica and chill. I asked Siri, "play some chill music". That's exactly what happened. You just can't do that with anything else on the market today, and it's another unique feature that, at the end of the day, is pulled off with such aplomb that you can't help but marvel at the fact that you're actually doing this.
That's what Apple tends to do pretty well...give you the power to do something that seems like it should just work, and you ask yourself why the hell someone didn't come up with this before. Siri doesn't really help me out with a lot of stuff besides setting timers when I cook, but the assistant sure helps in getting me hooked up with the type of music I want to listen to pretty quickly....or artist....or movie tunes....or even the number one song on my birthday. It's fun just to try to stump Siri.
While these are my top 4 reasons, there are also unique aspects of Apple Music that make it worth a look, including its own social network (although I don't use that feature at all, and I personally feel like it's a little too much), and family sharing, which is probably another huge reason to hook up to the service if you have a family member(s) with iOS devices in the house. Me and my wife are doing that currently, and for $15 a month, we've got our own individual libraries, playlists, etc, but also able to share in any of our iTunes music and video purchases. Good stuff indeed.
If you haven't given Apple Music a spin, I'd say try it out. The interface isn't for everybody, and nothing will ever be as good as Rdio's interface was back in the day....but it's worth looking at. It was good enough to drag me away from Spotify and other services, as the value was certainly greater in my eyes.