Reviewers Sing Apple Music’s Praises

Apple rolled out its new subscription music streaming service Tuesday, and it has been getting mostly raves from reviewers.

“Apple has built a handsome, robust app and service that goes well beyond just offering a huge catalog of music by providing many ways to discover and group music for a very wide range of tastes and moods,” wrote Walt Mossberg for Re/code.

The ability to discover new music in Apple’s offering also received praise from Christina Warren at Mashable. “Much of the Apple Music experience really is Beats Music. And this is a good thing,” she wrote.

“I always thought Beats had the best discovery mechanism of the streaming services,” Warren continued. “With live radio, human curated playlists and access to your iTunes purchase history, I’m really liking Apple Music.”

The mix of discovery methods also won kudos from Jim Dalrymple, who reviewed Apple Music for The Loop.

“I’m damned impressed,” he wrote, “Apple Music is a quality service, with the right mix of human curation and algorithms to help users figure out exactly what they want to hear.”

Dueling Interface Opinions

Although it has taken awhile for Apple to catch the streaming music wave, existing market players had better take notice of the newcomer to their realm, Dalrymple warned. “While other streaming services didn’t worry much about Apple in the past, Apple Music will get their attention. In fact, it’s going to grab everyone’s attention.”

Apple Music is worth the subscription fee, according to Mossberg, but its interface is “uncharacteristically complicated by Apple standards, with everything from a global terrestrial radio station to numerous suggested playlists for different purposes in different places.

“And the company offers very little guidance on how to navigate its many features,” he continued. “It will take time to learn it. And that’s not something you’re going to want to do if all you’re looking for is to lean back and listen.”That view is in sharp contrast to the opinion offered by Kory Grow for Rolling Stone.

“On the surface, the service offers Apple-fied takes on its competitors’ best features — Spotify-inspired personalized recommendations and playlists, Songza-like situational playlists, easy-to-curate Pandora-esque radio stations,” he wrote.

“But digging deeper reveals a platform designed, for the most part, to present these elements in as user-friendly a way as possible,” Grow continued. “It’s like a Venn diagram of streaming music’s best offerings.”

Five Easy Pieces

Apple on Tuesday pushed Apple Music to the company’s faithful in iOS 8.4, an upgrade of its mobile operating system. When the new version of iOS boots up, a new Music icon will appear on the quick access bar at the bottom of the screen.

There are five elements in the app. My Music displays songs you’ve purchased or added to your iTunes library, as well as songs from Apple’s cloud library.

For You is where you’ll see recommendations for your listening pleasure based on your iTunes purchase history and a survey of your tastes, performed when you first launch the section.

New is not merely a collection of the latest music, videos and charts. Apple is selective, choosing the up-and-coming artists that are about to become hits.

Radio lets you listen to stations you create based on artists or songs, or to curated stations.

Connect allows artists and Apple editors to communicate with their audiences.

Hefty Revenue Stream

Users interested in trying out Apple Music can do so for three months for free. After that, it will cost $9.99 a month for a single user or $14.99 for up to six users.

“The three-month extended trial is exceptionally long and provides more time to get hooked on the service,” observed Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research.

“In some cases, consumers will likely stay on via inertia,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

The music service is a natural expansion of Apple’s music franchise, Rubin noted. “There aren’t a lot a features that we haven’t seen in some form before. The subscription offering isn’t unique, but some of the integration things on the device side done by Apple are interesting.”

Once subscriptions start rolling in, Apple Music could make the company a tidy sum, predicted Trip Chowdhry, managing director for equity research at Global Equities Research.

“They could have as many as 10 million users of the service. That’s a $1.2 billion revenue opportunity,” he told the E-Commerce Times. “I think that could be significant, because it’s a very high margin business — 20 to 30 percent going directly to the bottom line.”

Survival Move

Apple’s move into streaming music is a necessary one, maintained Wayne Rosso, former chairman of MashBoxX and former president of Grokster.

“They had to make this move because the future of music is streaming,” he told the E-Commerce Times. “People who knew what they were doing saw this years ago,” he said. “The download business is going the way of the CD.”

Will Apple be able to dominate streaming the way it has dominated music downloads?

“The reason Apple dominated downloads is because they were the first ones in the market. They’re not the first one in the market now,” Rosso pointed out.

“Do they have as good a chance as anybody to jump out there and be as big in streaming as they are in downloads?” he asked. “Sure, but it’s not a slam dunk that they will.”

John Mello is a freelance technology writer and contributor to Chief Security Officer magazine. You can connect with him on Google+.

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