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Streaming Into The Future

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Twitter user @jonathanlally described my initial feelings towards Apple Music perfectly when he tweeted, ‘Seriously cannot even remember a time where I’ve actually been *waiting* for an iTunes software update.’

I’ll admit, I’m an Apple fangirl. I waited for the launch of the iPhone 6 at Highpoint to interview people for a journalism assignment, I would happily buy that perfume someone made of the Apple packaging smell, and I would most definitely subscribe to a three-month trial of Apple Music without blinking an eye.

 

I’m not saying that I’m not critical of what Apple does, but when the company brings out a new addition to their product line I’m more often than not, intrigued and excited.

 

Streaming music was entirely foreign to me until last year. I was studying and I wanted to listen to Lily Allen’s new album, but I couldn’t download it over the university network. My friend suggested that I listened to it on Spotify. I signed up for the free service and I’ve been using it ever since. My use of Spotify extends to listening to their various mood playlists. I haven’t imported any of my own music to the service and I would never pay to listen to music on Spotify. 

My logic here is, why would I pay to use something that required me to move and curate all of my current music, which is obviously organised in iTunes, to a new service?  

When Apple Music was announced, I had some expectations. I wanted Apple Music and my existing iTunes library to synonymous with each other. I wanted the albums I didn’t own to appear right beside those that I had purchased or downloaded in the past. I envisioned the blurred lines between my own music and what I was streaming to be seamless. 

 I wanted a page where music was curated for my tastes. I wanted suggestions on what to add to my library next and I wanted playlist suggestions. I wanted playlists for every occasion; a playlist for singing in the shower, songs to play whilst cooking dinner, monotonous electronic tones to listen to when I’m working. 

More importantly, I wanted offline access. I wanted to be able to pin down songs, albums and playlists to my phone, iPod and iPad so that I didn’t have to chew up my data listening to my library when I wasn’t in a wi-fi zone. 

 

 

When you first set up your Apple Music profile, you can select genres and artists that you like or love

 

I got to spend five minutes with the new iTunes app on my iPhone before I had to jet off to work on Wednesday morning. To my surprise, in that time, I was able to sign up for the free trial, select genres and artists that I like and started streaming Florence + The Machine’s new album. I pinned the album to my phone and walked to work. It was quick and relatively easy.

I couldn’t get over just how much content was stored in that tiny little app in my dock. There were so many new tabs and facets to explore, albeit it was difficult finding my way around the application at first. I found myself getting annoyed at the fact that I couldn’t add an album from the artist  homepage by clicking the three dots (you have to physically click on an album and click the little plus sign on the right-hand side). However, after a solid three hours of adding new albums and songs to my existing library, the application felt native to me. 

 

The number one most irritating aspect of Apple Music demonstrated by my beautiful web 1.0 graphics 

 

I think it is also important to mention how nice the mobile app; the colours, the improved symbols for shuffle and repeat, the transparency. It’s satisfying and feels almost (dare I say it)…tangible. I particularly enjoyed the coloured overlay of the playing now section that changed colour depending on the cover artwork. These minute touches made the mobile experience far more satisfying than other streaming applications like Spotify. 

 

 

Spotify's user interface compared to Apple Music

 

Beats 1 is, of course, also worth mentioning. The idea of a worldwide, unifying radio station is pretty damn awesome. I’ve only spent a few minutes listening to Beats 1 but so far, it seems like a fantastic way to discover new music. As it is hosted by live radio DJs, the experience of tuning into Beats 1 is akin to listening to your favourite radio station in the car. However, the music choices are ten times better and you’re less likely to hear the same songs over and over again. During my work hours, I can listen to Beats 1 streaming out of LA, and when I get home, the London team take over. Listening to live radio is much more engaging than streaming and the added bonus of it being worldwide means that there’s a greater online community you feel a part of that you don’t experience with regular, local radio.

 

10/10 would recommend Beats 1 

 

The one aspect of Apple Music that I’ve seriously neglected is Connect. At the moment, it kind of just feels like I’m following the Instagram accounts of the musicians that I like. I’m sure the feature will become more useful over time, however. 

Apple music connect, or Instagram?

 

Apple has the edge over other streaming services purely based upon the sheer amount of iTunes users on an everyday basis. Many people will sign up for the three-month free trial and will continue to pay for the service without much thought. However, it is safe to say that Apple Music is everything that I was hoping it to be. The only feature that I really would like to see on the platform is the incorporation of playlists by mood/activity like what Spotify and Google Play offer subscribers. Even playlists curated by artists or people of note would be a really cool addition. 

 

Will I continue subscribing after the free trial period? Probably. Partly out of laziness but also because after two days, I can’t imagine not having access to this.