7 Minute Miles

First week with Apple Music

Posted Friday, January 1st, 2021 11:23 pm GMT -6 in Business, Longform, Music, Shopping, Technology

For most of my life, I’ve been a music hoarder. Visiting record stores all over the world, I’ve collected rare (and not so rare) records, tapes and CDs from a core group of artists that I like. I did vinyl the first time around, made mix tapes on cassette, fell in love with the “pure” sound of CDs and have spent countless hours ripping CDs to MP3/AAC files to be synched with laptops, iMacs, iPods and iPhones. Things I’ve never done: Napster, the resurgence of vinyl and streaming services. A week ago, I decided to do something about that last one.

My daughters are probably thinking “about damn time, old guy.” They are both big fans of Spotify and each gave me a few tutorials on how they use that service and what they like about it. It seems to me that the real competition in this space right now is between Spotify and Apple Music, so I decided to look at that option too. They both have family plans available for about $15 per month, so I signed up to try Apple Music first. They are different in some ways, but similar in most of the important areas. Apple Music probably gets the initial nod from me, just because I am so invested in the Apple ecosystem.

What do I like so far? I finally understand how the integration works with my current library, so it’s cool to have my existing files available in the cloud to be played across all devices automatically. I like the curated artist stations and themed playlists (even if they seem to be somewhat repetitive) and it’s nice to have real radio station feeds integrated again (hello, KROQ). I love that you can download up to 100,000 files locally, as I don’t always have a reliable network connection. It’s great to be able to just listen to things by anybody instantly, without having to risk money buying something you end up not liking (or only need to listen to once).

What are the bad things? The $180 I’ll pay annually to Apple is money I probably would’ve spent at places like the Electric Fetus. According to Jimmy Page, questions abound regarding the fairness of streaming royalty payments to artists and writers. I don’t like the general concept that I’m renting access to these songs and don’t really own them. I don’t have to worry about Apple going out of business any time soon (cough, cough, Zune), but once you start down this road, you are locked in to pay or your stuff goes away. And you can also have the Netflix issue of artists deciding to pull their stuff at any time.

Right now, though, Apple Music seems to be a nice middle road for me. I get the benefits of streaming services, but can still buy things the old way whenever I want. The price isn’t unreasonable and there is still a lot of functionality for me to learn (profiles, interacting with friends and family, music discovery, MusicKit, Apple Music APIs). Strangely, scrobbling via Last.fm only seems to work with the old files in my library, so it would nice to figure out how to integrate between this site and my Apple Music profile.

Originally published by DK on January 1, 2021 at 11:23 pm