Five minutes with Apple Music

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An artist’s impression of what it might look like to see the Ashley Monroe album on the iTunes country landing page

Well, after spending a few minutes with the new Apple Music I am prepared to issue my definitive, irrevocable opinion of it*.

*Not really, but I was actually surprised at how quickly I grew irritated by it. I mean, I’ve already said I didn’t think it would be for me, but my attitude had mellowed somewhat since, as I thought about how much my daughters might like access to unlimited music on the family plan, and how that might end up being cheaper for me than my current music buying habit.

But then, a mere five minutes in, I went off the whole idea. Ten minutes later, I disabled the Autorenew on the subscription option. So why?

*ahem*

  1. The getting to know you screen, with its friendly bouncing circles of artists. That’s just another algorithm, of course. But, well, it’s sexist for a start. Tell it you like Country, and it offers you around 10 male artists for one or two female artists. I was able to double tap on favourites like Brad Paisley, Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, and the Dixie Chicks showed up (last album released in 2006). But no Martina McBride, Sara Evans, Ashley Monroe, Gretchen Wilson, Brandy Clark, Little Big Town etc. So we’re broad-brushing at this stage, but I hate broad brushes when it comes to musical tastes. X does not follow Y. To offer me Cliff Fucking Richard and not Tom Petty was just gross and disgusting. (Maybe these are signs that Mr Petty is not playing, who knows?)
  2. Once in, it offers you ‘curated’ playlists which are, frankly, rubbish. For some Apple ‘curator’ (or algorithm) to offer me a Bruce Springsteen ‘Deep Cuts’ playlist was just an insult. Don’t you know who I am? Yeah, I need some maths equation or corporate drone to tell me all about Springsteen. As to the artists it suggests, please. Toby Keith? Like, if you tapped Dixie Chicks and they offer you Toby Keith? That’s just trolling.
  3. The Country home page is as shite as the usual iTunes store home page. Yes, Kacey Musgraves is front and centre, but where the fuck is Ashley Monroe? Where, Apple? What the hell is wrong with you people?
  4. Radio? Radi-no. See notes above under curators.
  5. Oh, and £9.99/£14.99 – rip-off Britain. A fair price, even allowing for currency fluctuations by adding 10% to the € price, would be more like £7.69 and £11.69. Call it £7.99 and £11.99 to be generous to Apple, and we’re looking at being ripped off to the tune of £3 per month on the family plan, £36 per year. Paying, in other words, for more than two phantom months that other European countries don’t have. That would be Greedy, coming between June and July, and Bastards, coming between August and September.

So I still don’t know how my kids will take to it, but my visceral reaction has honestly surprised me. Turns out, I’ve still got really strong opinions about music and music discovery, even at my age.

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