A Week with Apple Music: It’s not great but Spotify may have a problem [First Impressions]

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The streaming music game is not an easy one to get into and succeed at, especially when you consider the reigning and current champ Spotify has no intention on giving up that title anytime soon. Could there be a service willing to take on the task of at least being a competitor to Spotify? Well, there’s been Tidal which is somewhat decent but it’s not a service that I think will threaten Spotify, What about if Apple got in the mix?

Apple shook up the music world last year when it purchased Beats for a huge amount of money. Those who are in the know were aware that Apple didn’t buy Beats for the headphones but in fact for their music connections and Beats Music service. We waited a bit for Apple to spend some time with all that info and music and now a year later, here we are. Apple named this new service “Apple Music” and with it they brought along some different things and some things we can expect from a streaming music service. But can they defeat the champ? Not yet but Spotify may have a problem in the future. I’ve used it for a week, I love it and I can see what would make people switch.

What’s Different about Apple Music?

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Apple Music isn’t revolutionary. It’s just Apple’s way of doing music streaming. So before you fanboys think Apple reinvented the wheel, they didn’t. They did however do a really good job of making it a one-stop shop for all of your music needs. Yup, all of them.

It started for me with the “For You” selection process of customizing the types of music you listen to by artist and genre. I had a lot of fun finding my favorite artists and genres and then waiting for the end result playlists and suggestions which was for the most part spot on. Going to the “For Now” list in iTunes is for the quick music fix and like I said the songs that it plays are almost always the bangers that you love so there’s no disappointments.

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 10.11.19 PMBeats 1 Radio is a slightly nuanced change from what Spotify is doing. Apple was able to throw it’s weight around and get some of the best DJ’s, VJ’s and radio personalities behind Beats 1 to bring some high quality content to Beats 1…LIVE. While listening to it I heard music that I hear often as well as some newer music from some my favorite artists, some upcoming indie artists and it was a good mix. Just when you thought live radio was beginning to fizzle out, here comes Apple to give it some new life.

The other elements were “mixtape” style radio stations which are similar to Pandora, Rdio and Slacker. You choose an artist and then you get a constant stream of songs from said artist and artists like them either style wise or genre wise. Same ol’ thing. The weird thing is Spotify, Pandora and the others do this. It just seems cooler when Apple does it.

The best part of Apple Music for me so far was being able to find every song I was looking for. No matter the song. This is what I was initially worried about with Apple Music. Spotify has a huge collection of music and I didn’t think that Apple could match them. How wrong I was. Both services boast a collection of 30 million plus songs. I’ve been going download crazy ever since. I’ve already got about 7 playlists each with about 125 songs and I have more to go and I’ve been having fun like a little kid. All of my streamed music mixes together with my iTunes catalog seamlessly and its like I bought every album. The beautiful iTunes music UI really makes you appreciate your collection.

Should you switch?

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The big question. “Should I switch?”. The jury is still out on Apple Music. While I did like the experience very much it wasn’t without things I didn’t like. For example, the UI gets a little messy, convoluted at times, and trying to keep all of your music organized and find it, isn’t easy.

The OS X version is way easier to use than the iOS version (at least to me). Use Apple Music on a desktop.

Siri? Use her if you want but I still find her pretty useless for everything and it wasn’t different with Apple Music.

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 11.19.49 AMLastly and most important. There is NO free service. Sure, you have a 3-month trial now but after that it’s $10 bucks a month. It’s a really a small amount of money to ask for to listen to all of the music you want but the economy isn’t great and $10 is a lot of money to some people for music they don’t own like they would a CD. What’s going to happen if you don’t cough up that $10 after your trial is over? Since there is no free service it’s not like you can listen to your playlists in shuffle mode with ads like Spotify. You’re just f—ed and that’s it. NO GOOD Apple.

So, the moral of the story is, if you’re currently using Spotify as your primary music streaming source. Keep it. No need to jump out the window and switch. If you’re an Apple fanboy or girl then disregard my prior statement and enjoy. Objectively speaking however, give the trial a run and compare the two services as best you can. I personally tend to judge things in this case by the music I can find. Some people will judge it based on sound quality, which I never even bothered to mention because it’s so subjective. Everybody hears things differently and it’s basically a Coke and Pepsi argument after that. Some people will base it on ease of use or aesthetic. Whatever brings you to a decision. Either choice is not a bad one. Spotify is still king but as time goes on Apple Music WILL improve and that’s where Spotify may have a problem. We can only wait and see.

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Mike Bitter is a born gadget head and true lover of technology. It all started with computer classes at age 10 and his first PC the Tandy 1000. From then on he found his love and he became a gamer and a PC builder and has not stopped since. He specializes in hardware, troubleshooting and custom PC building. He’s known as the “fixer” amongst his friends whenever there is a problem with a PC or a Mac. He’s also fully immersed in all things that pertain to the world of computers and gaming. He's an 80's baby and he grew up watching technology evolve from the NES to PS4 and from the Commodore 64 to the iMac. He has a unique and minimalist perspective on technology and is here to help the average person to understand technology today.