When Apple unveiled their plans for Apple Music at the WWDC in June, many felt the presentation was awkward, poorly practiced, and half-baked. Watching Eddie Cue and Jimmy Iovine stumble their way through the presentation was an embarrassing display that deflated the power of the newly improved music service they were unveiling. Several weeks later, Apple finally released Apple Music with plenty of corporate ballyhoo. Although fanboys are already cheering the new service, so far the more serious reviews have been positive. With the perfect marriage of iTunes, the inventive features of Beats Music, and the timeless joy of broadcast radio, Apple has once again established itself as a leader of the music industry.
Companies like Spotify, Pandora, and Songza have taken some of the wind out of Apple’s sales. With similar albeit mediocre offerings, Apple’s music streaming competitors have enjoyed undeniable success among younger listeners, and have been chipping away at Apple’s bottom line. With plenty of available music streaming alternatives, the music consuming trends of paying consumers has shifted through the years and Apple knew that it was time to pivot and reposition themselves to combat the competition.
Apple Music is an evolution, not a revolution
Apple has not reinvented the music listening/streaming experience, but it has constructively built upon the existing iTunes format with features gained from the acquisition of Beats by Dre and its innovative Beats Music app, like curated music playlists and personalized recommendations. The end result is a vastly improved iTunes and a big step forward toward solidifying Apple’s dominance in the music industry. Apple’s decision to make their new service available to alternative mobile platforms like Android will establish their dominance even further when it becomes available this Fall.
When iTunes was first released, it revealed a future for musical consumption that we did not know we even needed. It was a forward thinking format that in many ways promised to be ahead of the curve, but Apple got lazy and companies like Spotify showed the consumer a different way. In many ways, with Apple Music, the folks in Cupertino are playing catch-up. The additional features to Apple Music are familiar and not particularly innovative, but their exclusion from the iTunes format of old left music lovers wanting for years now. Apple has finally delivered a modern music streaming service with the entire iTunes catalog at your fingertips. And with the key features of Beats Music integrated with Apple Music, discovery is now front and center.
And there is more. iTunes Radio has been a sub-par experience since its inclusion in the iTunes app. There was something missing from the curated music lists. iTunes Radio had a boring mixed tape feel and Apple desperately needed to elevate the experience to a more personal level. The Beats 1 radio channel, with its live radio host Zane Lowe and his crew of DJs and artists, now provides a fresh energy and excitement that truly satisfies in a way that a curated playlist cannot. A good DJ is like a close friend. They can make suggestions, tell you stories, provide exclusive content and interviews and create exposure for independent artists. In a world where the youth are quick to tune out with a pair of Beats headphones, having a live DJ available to them may not be such a bad idea. Beats 1 does not reinvent radio, but it can potentially expose millions of youth to a timeless experience that the older generations took for granted and still do. Radio can be fun.
Is Apple Music worth it?
In a word, yes. For ten dollars a month, you can experience Apple Music with its unlimited iTunes catalog, Beats 1 radio channel, and limitless tools to aid you in discovering new material, new artists and new musical genres. Gone are the days when we spent half a paycheck on a stack of compact disks only to find a handful of worthwhile songs. With Apple Music, you can really ask yourself, how far down the rabbit hole can I go? Naturally, you keep all of your existing music files, whether in the cloud or downloaded to your device, but it almost seems unnecessary now. With Apple Music you have access to all your desired music on command. Apple Music is inspiration, discovery and exposure, but most of all, Apple Music is fun.