TechCrunch: “Spotify and Apple Music get unofficial mixes, the best part of SoundCloud”

TechCrunch via MacRumors:

SoundCloud’s big differentiator is its offering of unofficial, user-uploaded content that the major labels don’t release and that isn’t on Spotify or Apple Music. Or at least they weren’t. The first unofficial single-track remixes just went live on Spotify and Apple Music thanks to their partnerships with music rights management service Dubset.

Despite not liking the song particularly, this is very cool. I enjoy listening to mixes of songs created by DJs, where one song is transitioned into the next, in order to not lose the “flow” of what I’m doing when a song ends or having to think particularly about what to play next. At the moment, I search SoundCloud and YouTube for them, but it’s at a much lower quality than Apple Music and not as reliable (I’m sure some people find this hard to believe). If this is a first step towards legitimizing and monetizing long-form mixes on popular music distribution services, I’d be very happy about it.


Apple Music in iOS 9.3

Apple are publicizing their new APIs for Apple Music in iOS 9.3:

Provide controls for Apple Music within your app. iOS 9.3 now supports playback of any song for Apple Music members.

This is a good move, because controlling and managing music is so personal to people. For instance, listeners of classical music (I’m told) don’t necessarily prefer “artist” to be the top level entity, instead preferring the performer. This is an opportunity for 3rd party app developers to get in on the success of Apple’s music streaming service by filling niches that Apple are struggling to cater to with the one-size-fits-all Music app.

“Apple Stole My Music. No, Seriously.”

As I’ve said, I use Apple Music because it’s convenient, it’s baked into my iPhone, and it’s a good value considering how much I use it (the conjunction of these points amounts to, essentially, laziness). The reason I bring it up is this via Marco Arment:

This Apple Music horror story is making the rounds today. It sounds like either a severe user error or a severe bug, and there’s no way to know which it is, but regardless, this aside is good advice:

For about ten years, I’ve been warning people, “Hang onto your media. One day, you won’t buy a movie. You’ll buy the right to watch a movie, and that movie will be served to you. If the companies serving the movie don’t want you to see it, or they want to change something, they will have the power to do so. They can alter history, and they can make you keep paying for things that you formerly could have bought. Information will be a utility rather than a possession. Even information that you yourself have created will require unending, recurring payments just to access.”

Own your data.

I keep my personal media, like rare MP3s I found of my favorite bands, demos my friends have given me, and songs I’ve made, completely separate from iTunes, and you should too. This is closely related the point that Apple is your biggest dependency (and that’s usually fine). It didn’t used to be this way, when I could trust iTunes and it’s simple filesystem storage, but when I signed up for iTunes Match, that got really complicated and so I moved those files.

For related reading, here’s Richard Stallman’s “The Right to Read”, which will make you either paranoid or scoff.

Apple Music rumored for a big reboot

I’ve had two experiences recently with Apple Music that are worth sharing:

  1. I’ve been cutting costs and minding the pennies, just out of good practice, and of my discretionary spending, a small portion goes to Apple. Specifically, iCloud Backup and Apple Music. It’s not quite enough money that I’m considering cutting the services, but it’s just enough money to make me consider if I can do without;
  2. I recently borrowed a friends’ phone to find a song, instinctively opened Apple Music, only to find they didn’t pay for the service, and so I couldn’t play any music. I felt silly and deflated, I’ve just grown so accustomed to having all of the worlds’ music all of the time that it was a minor shock to suddenly not have that available.

Considering this, I was interested to learn from the Verge that:

Apple is planning to overhaul its Apple Music service to make it “more intuitive to use,” according to Bloomberg News. Citing sources, Bloomberg News claims Apple will also better integrate its streaming and download options, and expand its radio service. Apple is rumored to unveil its updated Apple Music service at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June.

I don’t have a lot to complain about with Apple Music other than “the small things.” It’s confusing to not know which song is local and which song is “in the cloud”, sometimes songs won’t play, sometimes things are duplicated. What I do have a lot to say about is the broader UX of music on Apple’s platforms, specifically the monolith that iTunes has become.