By: Chris Giordano
As someone who never understood the idea of streaming music, I was incredibly skeptical to start my Apple Music free trial. After downloading the new iOS 8.4 update, I immediately disabled the feature. But after sitting on it for a little while longer, I decided that I should give it a shot. I mean it's free for 3 months, right? So why not?
It’s colorful and inviting. It’s distinctly Apple.
Fast-forward a few weeks later and I'm finding myself lying in bed at outrageous hours of the night searching up artists and songs to listen to. I feel as if I have the entire music industry at the tips of my fingers. Apple Music, similarly to Spotify and Pandora - two streaming services I never used, - allows you to stream music to your device. They have a ton of music available to you, whether it be Mary J Blige's breakout album, What's the 411?, Beyonce's self-titled, Senses Fail's newest Pull the Thorns from Your Heart, and everything in between. There is a plethora of playlists to choose from, too, aptly titled "The Rise Of.." or "An Intro To.." to hear the most popular songs from whatever artist the service believes you'll enjoy. They even have playlists dedicated for specific activities or moods, similarly to Songza, such as working out, cooking, or relaxing.
Because of these aforementioned features, Apple Music seems to be designed and tweaked uniquely for you. Their website boasts, "with so much great music to hear, it's nice to have someone in the know helping you find exactly the right tracks. Our experts handpick songs, artists, and albums based on what you listen to and like," and this couldn't be more true. Upon opening it for the first time, you're greeted with a page that asks you to tell Apple Music what you like. It's starts broadly by asking what genres you're into, then it gets specific by asking what artists you like. To be honest, this process was actually quite annoying. You tap the red bubble once if you like them, then tap twice if you love them. The problem is that they don't vanish after that. They stay there until you're done. It's pretty finicky and annoying to scroll back and forth looking for smaller bubbles, but I also spent about 20 minutes refreshing. I easily could have just picked my favorites and stopped there.
A little cumbersome, wouldn’t you say?
Regardless, I completely love the service. If you're on a Wi-Fi network, you can search up almost any artist or song, then you have the option to download it to directly into your iPhone's Music Library. It's my absolute favorite feature of Apple Music, and personally, I've been listening and discovering artists I never thought I would listen to - such as Lana Del Rey, Major Lazer, and Chris Brown. It truly is a liberating feeling to be able to listen to new music so easily. I'm not sure exactly how many artists are available, though. For example, and for the purpose of writing this, I searched up Prince, only to find 3 of his hottest tracks on there. There were no albums. There was "Prince Radio," which, as the name suggests, is a radio station dedicated only to Prince tracks, but I feel like that's just a cheap way of Apple not being able to support certain artists.
I think I’m in love with my radio, cause it never lets me down. (Radio - Beyonce)
Speaking of radio, one of the big features that Apple is pushing is the Radio service, which allows you to stream live and not-live radio straight to your phone. Their flagship, and arguably most popular station, Beats 1, is highly respected and receiving great praise. Lauretta Charlton of Vulture.com claims that "there is an endless amount of material being churned out at a remarkable pace." She states how it allows people who may seem out of touch with today's hottest songs to be able to catch up with what's new. I used it once, as @Crissles, a podcast host of "The Read", was on it for an hour over the weekend. To me, it feels like Sirius XM -- on your phone. It's remarkable, really.
The Connect feature is completely underwhelming, and at least for me, doesn't work as it should. I'm "following" (oh, yeah, you get the ability to follow artists as you please) about 30 artists, yet the only posts on I see on the Connect tab are from Linkin Park. Connect, from what I understand, allows you to catch up with your favorite artists' Twitter or Instagram page, or see newest music videos or albums that they released. Meh.
I love Apple Music. The interface is - simply put - okay. It takes some getting used to, and can be quite cumbersome at times, but that doesn't take away from the endless amount of options you're granted. Sign up for Apple Music's free three month trial and test it out for yourself. At $9.99/month after your trial ends (or $14.99/month for a family plan), I believe it all comes down to personal preference, especially since Spotify Unlimited costs the same. And from my understand, everything Apple Music does, Spotify does as well. But for someone who's not familiar to streaming music, and doesn't know a thing about using Spotify or Pandora in the slightest, it's a great Apple-ized service, and doesn’t require a second app. The music you’ve synced from iTunes is there, too. So, If you have an iPhone, or an iPad, iPod Touch, or Apple Watch, I definitely recommend it. Give it a try, and hopefully, you'll fall in love with it as much as I did.
And in case you forgot, which I doubt you did, bless Taylor Swift.