Apple Music: it has everything.. Maybe even too much?

It shouldn’t come up as a surprise that a new paid streaming music service by Apple has arrived recently. In the end of June the tech giant presented its highly anticipated Apple Music subscription service. Like many other already existing streaming services, Apple offers its customers an access to millions of tracks for a monthly fee. After using this service for about 3 weeks I decided to come up with my own feelings about it. Sorry in advance devoted fans of Apple corporation, it’s not going to be a praise or prediction that Apple Music will conquer the music world.

Looking back in 2003, the company launched the world’s most successful digital download service, the iTunes Store. Can it do the same for streaming and win a battle between such successful and already established streaming service as Spotify?

Apple Music has received lots of praise, and it might be deserved. The subscription service is great for music discovery, and it is even trying to make a radio cool again. I believe, Apple has already converted a number of Spotify’s subscribers into believers, and generally speaking it has received significant number of positive feedbacks.

However, this brave new music streaming doesn’t look as a game-changer for me despite all attempts Apple made to make me believe. So far, it looks like Apple has started to forget how to say “No” by making latest products overloaded.

The worst part of Apple Music for me is navigation. There’s just too much going on! Apple, in its attempt to give users everything right here right now, is just loosing what the company is famous for – simplicity and usability. There are so many different ways to get what user is looking for, and eventually it converts user experience into struggle to find it. I want music to listen to, not a maze to find it. Too much good stuff is apparently too much. Making things simple has been one of Apple’s strongest and greatest insignias for decades, but now it feels like a lot of media apps have been tried to be shoehorned into iTunes.

Another problem I see as a serious one here is interface. There are endless number of ways to get into playlists, library, and songs saved for offline listening, and that default white-and-pink interface changes colors with an attempt to match album covers… This is nothing wrong with something being black and white (you can read it properly at least), but when it’s chartreuse and orange, it might be too colourful and reading the screen is become a nightmare. There are also transparency effects which seem to me a bit out of place. Thus, while some features on a menu are clear, others are just a headache.

Another section I’m sceptical about is “Connect” which is included in the five main tabs at the bottom of the main interface. The idea behind it is to connect fans with artists, providing latest news about a band, latest releases or even selfies with fans. Hm.. is one of the purposes of Apple Music to become a new social media channel? If yes, what is it for? Even if placing Connect on a front-and-center isn’t a huge negative factor itself; it might be a bit distracting and useless. So far, I’m following around 80 artists, and I don’t see them being active on Apple Music. I do believe for interaction with artists nothing can be better than Facebook and Twitter so far. Dear Apple Music, please stay focused!

Beats 1 though might be a great attempt to bring radio back to life. Apple Music’s radio station, is probably the most hyped part of the service. Represented by DJs from Los Angeles, New York, and London, it has a respected and brave goal to put a 24/7 global music experience live across the globe. Guest shows include some hosted by musicians, and the overall music selection is good enough. Have been listening it for a while I can conclude there is definitely a chance to hear songs you would love to sing with or to find new artists you would like to hear again and again. By this moment, I’ve realised I’m enjoying the station and might come back to it from time to time.

To sum up my experience I would use a word uneven. It’s unlikely I will stay with Apple Music after free 3-months trial, but I might enjoy a radio station sometimes which is supposed to be free for non-subscribers. Apple Music is a perfect example that to have more can’t always mean being better.

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Author: Elena Tsarkova

MSc Digital Marketing at The University of Southampton. Fascinated by influence of digital media on human beings.

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