So it’s finally happened, Apple has thrown its hat into the ring alongside Spotify, Google Play and the (in my opinion) doomed Tidal. Announced by its beautiful TBWA produced ad the company has rolled out its music streaming service allowing those of us dependant on both Apple products and music streaming to sync up with the mothership. Emphasizing music discovery and curation the new service allows you to browse artists to whom you can ‘connect’ and receive periodic updates and follow popular cultural platforms such as Vice and Pitchfork who are dispersing playlists alongside those created by Apple.
As one of the world’s strongest brands, one that’s built on innovation, premium design aesthetics and most importantly being used-friendly, Apple has done a pretty solid job with its streaming service. What sets Apple Music aside from both previous Apple products and its competitors is its emphasis on curation. As well as opting to follow media brands such as Noisey and Pitchfork you can also tap in to the vast amount of playlists that Apple have curated for you based on what you told them you’re into. I’ve been suggested everything from ‘Introduction to Four Tet’ to ‘SoCal Punk’ to ‘The Fall:The 90s’ to ‘Hipster’s Guide to R&B’ and ‘Lounge Rap,’ it’s all highly specific and new suggestions seem to present themselves to me every time I hit the ‘For You’ tab. Beneath all of this is the acknowledgement of the profound truth that we are in an age of personal and public curation. The user gets the opportunity to work alongside the existing algorithm to control how they get to access and explore music and then curate a library of tracks which compliment, or perhaps exacerbate the individuals sense of who they are- it is a prime example of branding and the innovation lies in the way in which the (forgive me Mr Hegarty) consumer is involved. This will reach even further once the planned social media integration is rolled out.
It does, of course, have its flaws. Multiple music and tech commentators have pointed to the overload of features and content and the awkwardness of certain aspects of the interface. I do not doubt that this will be worked out in subsequent versions, Apple has released some pretty clunky incarnations of iTunes in the past- nobody’s perfect! From a PR perspective Apple could have done without its run-in with industry power-broker Taylor Swift who initially held out on releasing her hugely popular 1989 album to the service due to the initial policy of not paying royalties during the trial period.
Despite a few predictable bumps in the road Apple Music has gotten off to a good start. It’s a prime example of marketing led innovation at its best, leveraging both its existing cultural credit and influence and launching itself in line with the current truths of the market. A couple of personal peeves that I have with the service are firstly, where the hell is all of the UK Garage? All I could find was a really weird cover of ‘Blinded by the Lights’ by The Streets and Daniel Bedingfiled’s ‘Gotta Get Through This.’ Also I don’t really understand how Beats 1 Radio works, do I just check the schedule for the shows that I wanna hear?