Apple Music: Gone and Forgotten

October 7th, 2015

Within 30 days after Apple Music debuted, Apple touted 11 million signups. But since they were for 90-day free trials, it meant, obviously, that had actually paid for the service. With contradictory surveys showing how many planned to actually keep their subscriptions active when it came due, the potential for success remained a huge question mark.

It didn’t help that there were loads of complaints about the messy user interface. Did Apple screw up, or were people just expecting too much? Or somewhere in between? The other day, I read an article suggesting Apple made a major mistake in designing Apple Music, which seems peculiar. After all, Apple has done well enough with iTunes, although it doesn’t always get the love.

In an interview after the first 90-day signup period elapsed, Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, declined to reveal how many paid members Apple Music ended up with. He talked more about playing a long game, which implies that signups were nothing to shout about. Or maybe they are waiting to see how long it’ll take to beat Spotify, which had over 20 million paid subscribers as of June of this year.

Well, on September 29th, I had to make a decision. Some of you simply turned off the auto-renew option so your Apple Music account wouldn’t renew. I realized I hadn’t done so. Not that $9.99 is that much money, although I can think of other purposes for it.

Decisions, decisions!

Now those of you who have followed my posts about Apple Music know that it worked all right for me, more or less. It took a while for the service to get a solid handle on my preferences that include classical, country rock, jazz, pop, classic and other musical genres. But not urban or hip hop or anything related to rap. Well, except perhaps for a 1980 tune, “Rapture,” from Blondie.

It took a while for the system to realize I was no fan of Tom Jones, Barry Manilow, or Eddy Arnold for that matter, though I suppose there was something in my original settings that led to the stubborn inclusion of these and similar artists for the first few weeks.

Let me assure you that I did spend that time assiduously catching up on music for a change. In recent years, I’ve been lost in talk radio, and only switch to music stations in the car when Barbara is with me. She keeps cable news on in the background at home, but is only too happy to ditch it when she’s on the road But probably because my cable news tastes differ from hers, and it avoids an argument. But when it comes to music, we are in simpatico.

However, I have rarely used the iPhone as an audio interface for music in the car. In the past, I’d use the CD player, but gradually moved the tracks over to iTunes. Yes, there’s enough free space on my iPhone to carry a decent library, but the interface of the typical auto infotainment system isn’t terribly kind to such setups. So I seldom bother.

That takes us back to Apple Music and the decision I made on September 29th.

It turns out that I hadn’t touched any tracks from Apple Music in six weeks. Not a one. This doesn’t mean I didn’t launch iTunes, but every song I played, when I played anything, was something that I had already purchased. So why did I need to spend an extra $9.99 each month?

Why indeed!

So the decision was inevitable. I decided to go without. Now maybe I will decide I must listen to something that I do not already own and isn’t being played in rotation on a classic rock or oldies music station. At that point, I may decide to subscribe. But since I am not committed to any particular timeframe, I suppose I could cancel the following month and try it again when the mood returns.

I’ve long taken this approach with Netflix, largely because I can binge the few shows I don’t want to miss in a few days, or at most a week or two. So why pay for something year-round when I’m not using the service all that often? Perhaps I’m coming across as a cheapskate, but I don’t see the need to pay for things when they go unused, although I realize the convenience of not having to restore my membership. I suspect Netflix — and perhaps Apple — will earn huge profits stemming from the fact that most customers aren’t so picky. But if you’re on a tight budget, it hardly makes sense to pay for service when it’s not being used.

Obviously, I’m far from the typical would-be Apple Music customer. I grew up buying music, and started visiting record stores when I was an overweight teen who enjoyed spending a precious dollar or two on a new 45 from one of my favorite artists. My weight normalized at 18, and perhaps I’m just too old to change my ways, but there is something about owning music and not having to worry about whether the credit card can handle another charge, or whether a service will outlive me. Of course, at my age, I fully expect Apple will be around long after I’m gone. Even then, I’d rather own a physical object than something that lives on a drive as a digital file.

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3 Responses to “Apple Music: Gone and Forgotten”

  1. Roguedog says:

    I don’t understand the reluctance to Apple Music, I intend to continue with my subscription because I can still PURCHASE the content I like, while at the same time entertain other tracks that I am not willing to buy but still enjoy. I really enjoy classical/baroque period music from the masters like Vivaldi, C.P.E Bach, J.S. Bach, Teleman, G.F.Handel and others, however each of these masters created prodigious amounts of music… I will never be able to purchase them all particularly since very few exist as singles, but on albums, or collections sometimes costing hundreds of dollars…, so with apple music I still enjoy all of them and then purchase either the single track, or multiple tracks, or whole collections as I desire, It’s the perfect solution, plus I don’t have to store them on my device unless I choose to, but they are always in my collection as long as I subscribe, so I’m not just paying for access to millions of songs, I am also paying for storage media to hold them until I decide to download them onto my device. So, What’s not to like?

  2. tech-52 says:

    I have a cabinet with over 600 CDs in it. Can’t remember the last time I opened it and played a CD. Now when I purchase a CD, which is rare, I immediately rip it into my iTunes library, which now has over 10,000 tracks. Seems like a lot of music, but it does begin to feel stale now and again. I’ve decided to keep Apple Music for now, as I’m always discovering new music on it. One of the features I use often is to play a song I own or a new song I’ve discovered, then select the radio station icon based on that song. Apple Music plays back a continuous stream of both new and familiar music as I’m working out, walking, or otherwise listening. When a new song comes on that I like, I select the Heart icon. Rinse and repeat. At the cost of about one CD a month, Apple Music offers a lot of value for me.

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