I’m too old for new music services. All the music I really love, I already own. I’ve never been smitten with the streaming music model. I understand that it has radically upset the music business, but I don’t much care about it either. If no new music was ever produced, I would be fine. Still, when Apple gets in the mix it becomes big enough to pay attention and when the upgrade to iOS 8.4 became available this week, I installed it on all my mobile devices and signed up for a free 90 day trial of Apple Music.
The service includes multiple components, one of which is Beats 1 Radio. A live, 24/7 streaming music “station” that originates from multiple points on the globe — London, New York, LA. You get the idea. Lots of fanfare, lots of noise and at least so far, I’ve not recognized a single tune that has emanated from this bit of Apple magic. Like I said, I’m too old. It all sounds like “freaking voodoo music” to me but then, I’ve always hoped I would become Sid Fields by the time I reach 75, and I seem well on my way.
Streaming music is a strange notion for those of us birthed in the 20th century. It works like this, you pay a monthly fee and stream online or download all the songs you could ever want to your phone, tablet, or computer. Enjoy them. Revel in them. Dance to them. Let them take you back in time. But stop paying the monthly fee, and they all disappear. You don’t “own” them like you owned vinyl records and cassette tapes. You’re paying for a license to listen to them and that license is revoked the moment you decide to drop out.
Having ready access to any of 30 million songs is interesting, for about 30 minutes. Then it becomes a chore to find something likable enough and adding it to a playlist so I can easily recall it. It’s weird to have so much music at my fingertips only to suddenly discover a gaping hole in that library. No Beatles, no Prince, no Garth Brooks, among other notable artists and a long list of indies. That’s not Apple’s fault of course, but it can be disappointing to think of some old song from the Land of Ago only to discover it missing from the world’s largest music vault.
It’s not clear to me if Apple Music covers the annual iTunes Match fee or if it is in addition to it. I suspect if it doesn’t cover it, a lot of Match subscribers will head for the hills when their renewals come due. The $9.99/month cost for Apple Music is similar to Spotify and Google Music, but the $14.99/month for a “family” plan option is unique, at least for the moment. Spotify says they plan to match that.
The 90 day free trial is certainly long enough to discover if Apple Music is your cup of tea. I plan to keep it until day 89 before making a final decision — maybe it will grow on me?