Apple Music First Impressions

Apple Music launched worldwide yesterday evening and since then everyone has been flocking to grab the 3 month free trial as well as tuning into the service’s worldwide radio station, Beats One. But how does Apple Music compare to other streaming services around 12-hours in? Here are my first impressions.

I was a little dubious about Apple Music at first, I’m a sucker for a free trial, but I was worried that if we loved it, we’d be forced to fork out £14.99 per month for myself and my wife to use the service, as unlike Spotify there’s no free tier. You either pay, or get nothing. Well, sort of.

With Apple Music there is one feature which can be called “free” and that’s Beats One, the worldwide, always live, radio station. I’ll get to my thoughts on this later, however.

So, Apple Music. It’s ultimately a streaming service much like Spotify or Rdio, or even Google Play All Access. You pay a set fee per month to get access to all the music you could possibly think of, as well as personalised playlists. Something that on paper isn’t really unique compared to other services.

Where Apple Music differs however is its ability to offer human curated playlists based on the things that you like. It determines this by letting you choose from a series of genres and artists when you sign up. This is actually one of the best parts of Apple Music as it doesn’t just throw bland playlists based on one artist your way, they’re brilliantly themed and very well put together.

Apple Music First Impressions - n3rdabl3
The angry emo playlist was one of the first I was recommended. Oh Apple, that was so 2005!

They also recommend albums from artists it thinks you may like, not just the artist like other services. This allows you to dive into not only new albums, but classic albums from these bands and musicians. Also, probably one of the best playlists which pop up are the “Intro to *bandname*” which brings a playlists of popular and iconic tracks from artists you might like.

It’s actually a perfect way to get into bands you may have wanted to check out before, but had no idea where to start. What’s more, these aren’t just random recommendations either as you can search for an artist yourself and check out the “intro to” playlist which is a bonus.

In addition to the playlists and music recommendations, Apple Music also offers a series of automated radio stations as well as Beats One. The automated stations are placed in genres from Hip Hop, to Electro, to Metal, to World. These are pretty much the same as Spotify’s radio offerings with the option to skip tracks, save tracks offline, and more. You can also start radios based on artists, just like other streaming services.

Apple Music First Impressions - n3rdabl3
My music tastes consist mostly of angry people with guitars.

Beats One on the other hand is the most unique part to Apple Music and it surprised me that it was free for everyone to listen to. If you haven’t listened to the radio in some time, then you’ll remember why you stopped: annoying Radio DJ’s. At least that’s why I rarely listen to the radio.

Beats One’s main aim was to create a station that didn’t just play the same old hits, but played music for music lovers. Now, I love music, but the four or five times I’ve tuned in, I’ve been subjected to either House / Electro, Hip Hop, UK Garage, or R&B or a DJ that’s way too over enthusiastic for 9am in the morning.

Now, I’m not saying Beats One is terrible, on the contrary as many people like the aforementioned genres, right now however, it’s not for me. Sure there’ll be a part of the show that’ll have music I’d listen to, but I don’t have the patience to sit through music I’m not enjoying to perhaps hear something I might. Thus reminding us of the problems with traditional radio.

So with a reluctance to play Beats One, I’m left with something that, other than the hand curated playlists, feels a hell of a lot like Spotify, Google Play, Rdio, and probably Tidal. Not to mention that I can only use Apple Music on our iPad or via our PC as so far there’s no Android app, something the other services do offer right now.

Am I going to stick with Apple Music? Right now, it’s too soon to say for sure, but as it’s currently offering nothing unique compared to other services, at least for me, I think after the three months are up, I may just shoot back to Spotify’s free tier, or my entire music library stored in Google Play Music.

Apple Music does have a few good things going for it right now. I was very impressed with the hand-curated playlists, the ability to “connect” with artists is pretty cool, though not unique, but a great way to see some behind the scenes stuff from your favourite artists. The genre focussed radio stations contain some pretty questionable playlists, but they’re not the worst, and if you’re a radio listener, Beats One does offer something pretty unique.

Right now though, the night is still young.

As this is a first impressions post, my opinion overall could change, please don’t shoot me if it does. I’m a fickle person.

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Oliver Whysall

I’m a massive fan of all things apple but I’m not convinced yet. It’s a bit late coming. I’ve already got an extensive playlist collection on Spotify as well as following my favourite artists and getting updates from them as well as friends and moving away from this to Apple music just isn’t going to happen. Unless they allow you to import Spotify playlists in these first three months then I’m going to keep with Spotify!