Apple Music launch goes much smoother than could be expected
Apple avoids a ‘Mobile Me’ moment with its highly publicized launch of Apple News, and the early reviews are mostly positive, though the app itself is a bloated monster
The big news yesterday on tech sites was the release of iOS 8.4 and with it the launch of Apple News, Apple’s news music streaming service. All things considered, the launch went pretty smoothly – one can tell because I would have bet even money that the big story yesterday afternoon was going to be something along the lines of the service crashing, or users unable to download the updates.
Apple has to be thrilled with the roll-out, probably one of the least messy in a long time. They are probably even more thrilled – rolling around laughing, actually – that the media is buying that whole Taylor Swift is mad story. Come on, is the media that gullible? (Don’t answer that.)
One of the reasons the rollout of Apple Music was smooth is that the service is pretty much an extension of Beats Music. One can tell because the catalog is identical. The Beats service was (is) pretty good, in my opinion. I subscribed to it months ago after testing it out, impressed that it contained a pretty deep catalog of music, including many more obscure bands.
These music streaming services, it seems to me, serve two audiences: those that want a better radio experience, with curators choosing the music you hear; and those who want the convenience of being able to access music at any time, anywhere, without having to go downstairs and rummage through their own CD/LP collections. I’m in the latter category.
Streaming services appear here to stay, and I know few in the music industry that is enthusiastic about this, most are simply resigned to it. With the launch of Apple Music, I think we have reached a point where it will be harder for new services to be launched and succeed. Like the mobile phone market, there is room for only so many platforms, especially when the features are so similar.
For music streaming services, the big feature was the catalog. But this is probably no longer true. I see only minor differences between what Spotify is offering, and what is inside Apple Music (and Beats). For most listeners, the catalog is big enough that few will notice what is missing.
But Apple Music, it is said, offers 30 million songs, what could possibly be missing. A lot, it turns out. The jazz label ECM, for instance, allows only a trickle of content in any of the streaming services. Bands that control their own music, like Robert Fripp (King Crimson) has nothing available through a streaming service.
Then there is all that music that always falls through the cracks. I did a little digging around and tried to find a few things and discovered plenty of music that not only isn’t available though Apple Music or Spotify, but isn’t available in any form – CD, LP (except used) or MP3.
None of this is Apple’s fault, there have been so much music released since Edison’s tin foil recorder was invented that it is a daunting task to gather it all in one place. But for me, this is actually one of the beautiful things about music – but I know I am in the minority. (I also have to say that, unlike some reviewers, I find the ‘For You” feature hilariously bad. No, they don’t know me, and they likely never will.)
But Tim Cook has to be thrilled this morning. All hell did not break loose yesterday, and no one seemed to be yelling “Mobile Me” at Apple. So, should Spotify tremble? Maybe. But there is always room for a #2 or #3 service. But for others, the smooth launch of Apple Music certainly can’t be good news.
My only real criticism of Apple Music is that it looks and feels like what Microsoft would have come up with a few years ago. It’s crowded, iTunes (the app) is still a bloated monster, and everything including the kitchen sink seems to have been thrown in. All that was missing, mercifully, was the paper clip.
What’s next? In September Apple will unveil its next line-up of iPhones (and in October, the iPad). It will also release iOS 9. That will be mean the end of the Newsstand (at least, that is the word, because has yet to confirm this).
iOS 9 also will mean the launch of Apple News. Unlike Apple Music, News will not be a big money maker for Apple. In fact, it will mean another test of iAd, and few are optimistic that Apple will ever really get the ad game (except from the side of the brand, where it is expert).
TNM has been approved by Apple to be included in Apple News, but to better test the platform it probably would be smart to launch a second media brand that is more consumer oriented. That will be the challenge for us this summer. Anybody want to partner on a music, or film, or politics, or wine & food website launch?