3 months with Apple Music: Great for music discovery, but otherwise stick with …

1 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

3 months with Apple Music: Great for music discovery, but otherwise stick with Spotify.

Today marks three months since the launch of Apple Music. Apple products mainly the iPhones fetched about USD 17 billion revenue in the first quarter in China making it the second biggest market for the company after the US. The monthly subscription fee is 10 yuan (about USD 1.5) and the family plan provides the service for 15 yuan for up to six members with individual accounts. “We think the price of 10 RMB is hard to beat for all the music and all the sensational products like radio, movies and books,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, in a tele-briefing yesterday. The company announced Wednesday that Apple Music will cost 10 RMB per month, or only $1.50 US, but not before users exhaust a three-month trial membership.

Tomorrow Apple will begin charging a monthly fee of $10 to get access to its unlimited music streaming service (unless of course you turn off the automatic renewal function). He said Apple’s service is unique for its cloud music library and ability to sync and save a user’s spot in a book or song when switching between devices, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. In July, China’s top copyright regulator announced stricter rules for music streaming, demanding online streaming services stop providing unlicensed music to users. Other music competitors in China include Netease and Baidu, and all are faced with trying to get listeners to pay for the stuff after years of downloading pirated music for free.

The volume of China’s digital music market was estimated at 12.6 billion yuan for 2015, an increase of 30 per cent year on year, according to a report by Analysys, a leading information product and service provider in China’s Internet sector. As the country’s mobile music copyright environment improves, music service platforms will supplement existing content to meet the demands of users, said the report. Without going into specifics, Apple said there are “millions” of songs in Apple Music’s catalog for China, including local artists like Eason Chan, Li Ronghao, JJ Lin and G.E.M. In those three months, I had to take an hour and half ride upstate, during which I tried to listen to music I had uploaded to my phone through iTunes.

Every Monday, I wake up wishing it was Saturday but also totally looking forward to what new songs Spotify has curated just for me in my Discover Weekly playlist. I could only play the album from the beginning and listen straight through (I also couldn’t always play the album all the way through, though I’ve had trouble replicating this predicament). That applies only if you signed up on launch day, however, as the trial period extends 90 days no matter when you began using it. (Forget when you signed up? It constantly suggests a solid selection of playlists and albums that I like and even surfaces albums I had forgotten I liked. (Man, did I love REM’s “Automatic for the People” in 1995!) But I’m also repeatedly seeing the same artists and playlists.

Perhaps most of the time a person listening to a streaming service will be able to connect to Wi-Fi, but I know for myself, I spend a good amount of my listening hours while I’m traveling. Also, one major pet peeve: Apple, if you know I love Taylor Swift, and own three of her albums, why are you presenting me the “Intro to Taylor Swift” playlist? Over time, I ripped every CD I ever owned, and when the time came, I uploaded them to Apple’s cloud. iTunes Match has done wonders for my ability to channel the Beatles or that one Dire Straits bootleg from any device. So when I went over to Spotify—which I spent several years using, and mostly loved—I still had to dip back over to Apple’s iTunes to hear stuff that was in my collection, but not Spotify’s.

The security of knowing my CD collection is available from right within my go-to music app is nice, but that’s actually not what made Apple Music so sticky for me. There are two sections that I didn’t use all that much: “New” and “Connect.” New is as it sounds: a section for new music that gives listeners access to recent releases as well as fresh content. Apple’s music-preference test figured me out quickly—that I’m equally a fan of classic rock and classic rap, but can’t live without my Vampire Weekend, either. I was less interested in what was new on Apple Music and more interested in what the app could tell me I’d like, so this section isn’t particularly compelling to me, though I understand its necessity. I find myself grabbing stuff from artists I know and artists I want to know, either by recommendation or search, from Mos Def and Big Boi to Wilco and Joni Mitchell.

Right now, I’ve got “Old School BBQ,” a hip-hop set, another collection called “The New Wave Revival,” and one more called “Indie Songs for the Whole Family.” Apple Music’s family friendliness matters to me, too. Meanwhile, Miley Cyrus has posted six times in three months and half of her posts are advertisements (one for MTV’s Video Music Awards, which she hosted, and another for lipstick that she launched through MAC). Though not a super fan myself, I’m sure that those who follow a musician want to do so on a platform that delivers news and fresh content frequently — not a place musicians drop an update once a month. The two have roughly comparable music libraries (Apple may have a few exclusive albums, but truly a few), and they both offer the ability to create playlists and play music offline.

That said, if you’re just interested in having streaming access to all albums ever, and you already have Spotify tailored to your specific likes, and you have a ton of playlists there, then obviously stay put with Spotify.

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