WWDC 15: Apple Music Arrives, But Should It Have?

Apple’s WWDC is meant for developers, and they introduced a lot of new tools for iOS 9, OS X El Capitan, and watchOS 2. The final portion of the event wasn’t aimed at developers, and instead is aimed at consumers with a lot of time and money in the making. Apple Music was unveiled, and it is the result of Apple’s $3 billion acquisition of Beats. The service is $9.99/month, and gives you access to every song in the iTunes library to listen to on demand. The idea is that you no longer need to own specific songs, and instead pay to simply access what you want, when you want.
Apple spent a lot of time on stage talking about Apple Music, and yet failed to give one reason for its existence. There are tons of monthly music subscriptions out there, and the new Apple Music does the exact same thing. There’s nothing new that Apple is bringing to the table beyond the stock music app tie-in, and the iTunes catalog and name recognition. Apple is claiming an emphasis on human driven music recognition, which is the same idea that the Beats music subscription service was built-on. The Beats music recommendations didn’t seem to be unique or different, and now all Apple has done is rebranded it.

Apple has joined the long list of options for music subscriptions, and similar to iTunes Radio last year, is simply hoping the ubiquity of the offering is enough to sell users. iTunes Radio is free with nothing unique, and hasn’t gained the most traction, and now there’s a $10/month plan without any unique features. In addition to the music recommendations, you do get access to the all new Beats1 24/7 live radio. Apple acted like the one radio station was somehow the first of its kind, and different than a single Sirius XM station, or many online radio stations. If that wasn’t enough, Apple added in @Connect, which is essentially a rebranding of the failed Ping. Apple launched Ping with the idea of creating a social music network allowing artists to connect with fans. That’s exactly what @Connect is, but just a few years removed from the Ping failure. Apple did give the chance for undiscovered artists to potentially gain recognition, but they didn’t detail how anything other than popular artists will be found. ?

After years of speculation, Apple Music has arrived, but there’s no apparent reason to use Apple’s redundant music subscription offering.


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One Comment on "WWDC 15: Apple Music Arrives, But Should It Have?"

  1. Zepfhyr June 10, 2015 at 9:34 AM -

    I disagree that Apple Music has no unique features. For starters, Apple Music subscribers appear to get iTunes Match for free (based on what I can gather from the official page and the keynote). Granted, Google and Amazon both offer similar options with their music services, but they are not Apple’s competition here. Spotify and Rdio are the real services in Apple’s crosshairs.

    As for Apple Music recommendations (and Beats Music recommendations before it), I used Beats for three months with its free trial and very rarely built my own playlist of songs. Unless I was looking for something specific I wanted to hear or that my kids wanted to hear, there was no need. Every time I opened up the app, there was a new playlist of songs based on my interests. These weren’t songs picked by an algorithm based on my listening history, but songs that fell into key genres I had shown that I liked through my usage. As a result, the most recent curated playlists that matched my interests were presented to me, twice daily. And while there were some stinkers, there were always more to scroll through (including those to which I’d already listened and saved as favorites).

    This is, in my opinion, where Beats was a cut above the rest. At least during its initial launch. Will Apple Music be better than Spotify or Rdio? That’s a very personal question and one that depends on the user. Will it be more successful? Probably. The three month free trial for everyone will be a compelling reason to try it out, and having it integrated into iOS 9 means it will reach a LOT of users that wouldn’t have gone looking for it otherwise. I fully expect some Rdio and Spotify users to give it a shot simply because it’s pre-installed. And after using it for those three free months, they’re going to either cancel Apple Music or cancel Spotify/Rdio. And really, why cancel the service that’s also letting you put all your music you downloaded through Bandcamp or ripped from some mixtape you picked up from a DJ that hasn’t published his stuff in any stores, yet?

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