Like many of you, I’m sure, I’ve signed up for my 3 month free trial of Apple Music and Mr Ian Tunes will be banking on me, and millions of others forgetting to cancel so he gets his £9.99 a month. So far, I have to say I’m a bit underwhelmed. The catalogue seems comparable to Spotify, and works well enough, sounds fine..once you’ve found it. The interface is confusing – took some time before I figured out where you go to stream music (Radio? For You? New?). However I was interested to see the additional whistles and bells that might give it the edge over Spotify, Deezer or just good old YouTube.
The ‘Connect’ feature seems like a complete white elephant. I presumed it would find bands I’ve already got in my library and give me access to the latest news and exclusives – but of the 1,300 artists it seems only Animal Collective, Underworld and..er..The Lancashire Hotpots wish to ‘connect’ with any content. For the time being this doesn’t look like it’s going to squash Facebook or Twitter as the way for bands to ‘reach’ you.
There is a recommendation engine which attempts to analyse your music taste via a series of floating bubbles which you click according to your likes and dislikes. Why it doesn’t just scan your library and hazard a guess as to what you like I’ve no idea. Instead you’re asked to wade through a seemingly endless process while Apple figure out whether you like folk, electronica, hip hop, classical etc. This is pointless, I’m not a huge Hip Hop fan for example but that doesn’t mean I will scoff at a recommendation I might like. I’m not sure I want to dismiss entire musical genres at the click of a mouse. I found this process frustrating and soon got bored clicking and dismissing increasingly old suggestions – No I don’t like The Eagles. yes I do like The Kinks and so on… ad infinitum.
The Radio I haven’t been sampled to be honest but it all looks a bit universal and generic. Choose from such tantalisiing options as ‘Classic Alternative- from Arcade Fire to The Zutons’ or ‘Chill – electronic sounds and ambient textures’ – I’ll see what’s on 6 Music thanks (and at least Zane Lowe won’t be on)
Clicking ‘New’ again just suggests I stream Florence and The Machine or whatever is in the charts and ‘For You’ is uselss – based on my reductive bubble clicking (see above) to recommend I listen to The Orb (er…been listening to them for 25 years thanks).
So all in all, it’s a decent enough streaming service but the promised ‘added value’ and recommendation engine just doesn’t cut it for me. I’m interested to know what others think. Am I missing something?