The pros and cons of Apple Music

I’ve been a lover of music my whole life, and a lover of music subscription services since Spotify landed in the U.S.

Spotify is a great music streaming service, and if it weren’t for my deep fanboy addiction to Apple products, I probably wouldn’t even take a second look at Apple Music. But the first time I tried saying, “Siri play [insert artist]” and it worked, I was floored. Such a simple thing that Apple will never let Spotify do, which is kind of unfair. Let’s mark that as a pro for Apple Music. This also works great in the car when I want to listen to something specific and don’t want to look away from the road (point Apple).

Another pro is that I can set any song I want as my alarm. While I don’t change this very often, it’s nice that I could put something super peppy on when I need to get my butt out of bed, or something mellow for a Saturday morning (if I even set an alarm). Again, this is unfair because this is something that Apple will probably never let Spotify do.

I’m mixed about Beats One Radio, which is supposed to be Apple Music’s killer feature. Most of the time it’s like any other radio station; playing music I’ve heard a million times with bumpers and promo sound effects that I could do without. I do enjoy turning it on while I work. Often I just want some background noise, and I’ve already found several new artist that I love.

Three saving graces for the station so far:

Julie Adenuga — Apple Music’s London DJ. Maybe I’m biased because she’s on the longest during my work day, but I love her combination of good music I’ve heard before and great new stuff. Her personality is also infectionious. She’s upbeat, but not in an annoying way. It’s also interesting to see how a DJ in London does things differently than DJs here in the states. Zane Lowe does a good job too, but it’s still a little too full of music I’ve heard before.

St. Vincent’s Mixtape Delievery Service — I love St. Vincent’s quirky music, and the playlists she creates are great. I love how she tries to personalize her “mixtape” to someone’s situation, talking with them on-air. Little side shows like this are what’s going to keep me around, Apple. I caught Fred Armisen talking about his favorite music one day, but I haven’t heard anything like that again.

Elton John’s Rocket Hour — come on! It’s Elton John picking music! What’s better than this?

So, let’s get to the cons:

If you play a cool song on Beats 1, I should be able to click on it for more info on that song very easily. Right now, that’s not even an option. I can see the album artwork, who the artist is, and even the song title, but how the heck do I add this song to playlist for later? How do I heart this song?

Pausing the radio is also troublesome. When I resume, it picks up where it left off… for awhile. Then there’s an error. What? At least take me back to the live broadcast when I push play. This would be more expected than listening to everything delayed.

Apple, your social features are lacking. Connect is confusing. Julie Adenuga talked about following her on Connect and I had a really hard time finding out how. Shouldn’t this be easy?

I also want to see what my friends are listening to and follow them. I had several music mavens on Spotify that I used to find new music. Now I have to trust you. Sorry, Apple, I trust my friends more (despite being a huge fanboy).

And another thing, what’s with all the … menus? I feel like these cluttered menus are everywhere! Were you that desperate for your design to be clean that you had to hide everything in … menus? It’s weird.

While I appreciate your playlists, they need to be longer. More often than not, I’m jamming to a great playlist and then it’s just over. Why? Most Spotify playlists I enjoyed were 100+ tracks. Do that!

Also, Drake and A$AP Rocky don’t belong on a playlist called “Hipster’s Paradise”

When I heart a track, I expect to be able to find it again easily. That’s how it worked in Spotify, and I’ve gotten used to it. I understand that heart’ed music helps you create better playlists for me, but mostly I just want to find that song again. I understand that I can add it to “my music,” but I’d like the heart to do that functionality. Just a smart playlist called “heart’ed music” would be great.

So, you have until my free trial period is up to convince me that it’s worth keeping Apple Music. My wife loves Spotify and has had it for years, so she’ll be impossible to convince without addressing some of these issues.

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