I'm a playlist guy, you know this. Found the mother lode of playlists offered on Apple Music and spent most of yesterday and a few hours this morning exploring them and despite all the great music and sometimes witty playlist titles, here's what I don't like about most of the Apple Music playlists: they are barely an hour long. The length probably works for the vast majority of potential listeners but I rarely listen to music in hour chunks - more like 2-5 hour chunks. That being said, there are some new and old tunes waiting to be discovered among the hundreds (thousands?) of Apple Music playlists which are somewhat hidden on the New page - see which image to look for to find playlists in my previous post. One last thing about the New page before we move on... if you want genre specific suggestions, there is a drop down genre selection box near top center of page and the default setting is All Genres. When you select one of the 21 music genres, the page reloads to offer your genre specific suggestions including targeted Top 5 songs, albums and videos.
The next tab over in Apple Music, at least in iTunes on a Windows PC, is Radio. Formerly known as iTunes Radio, this feature doesn't appear to be updated much - maybe a fresh coat of pixel paint on station logos - but I could be wrong as I used it for all of six hours over a couple of days when it was first launched. The big deal is all about Beats1, a worldwide 24/7 radio station hosted by real live disc jockeys and the occasional superstar. Beats1 offers scheduled programming so you can just tune in to hear your favorite jock or show or special feature. As someone who rarely listens to radio stations of any kind, this feature is lost on me but it may be a huge incentive for others to join Apple Music but here's the thing: if you choose not to partake in Apple Music, the Radio feature is still there to be enjoyed. In fact that is the only way to hear The Beatles in Apple Music as they have chosen not to stream their catalog. Like Prince just did.
I'm not even gonna waste my time with the Connect feature. Sorry, but it holds less than zero interest for this guy. Which brings us to Apple Music's Spotify killer feature. Type a song, artist or album in the iTunes Search bar. Select something, anything from the results. Click on play button (black arrow in white circle) that appears on song icons, album covers and playlist artwork when you hover or get near them to play. It's that simple. Apple streaming. No limits. Click until you're finger falls off. But that's not the killer feature. See the three dots ∙∙∙? Click on them and in most cases you'll see a list of options. Look for Add to My Music. In theory, selecting that option would add the song, album or playlist to your Music Library but in practice you have to enable iCloud Music Library in order for it to work.
What is iCloud Music Library? Basically it is a lot like iTunes Music Match, the formerly $25 per year program that matched your digital music library to Apple's servers and then uploaded songs that it couldn't match. It enables you keep your music library in constant sync across all of your Apple devices by storing it all in the Cloud. But do the math: $25/year is less than $10/mo - so you can see Apple's reasoning. iCloud Music Library is an integral part of Apple Music but can be switched off - however if you do choose to switch it off, you cannot add anything to My Music. So because I do not trust my music collection to be stored on any other hard drives than those that I maintain, I am shut out of this potential Spotify killing feature. Make no mistake you can do exactly the same thing within Spotify, seamlessly integrating your own digital music collection with their 35 million tracks but there are just a few more steps involved and one of them is not sending your music off to the Cloud.
So that concludes my two days of futzing about with Apple Music on my PC. It tries to be everything to everyone and in the process is not really that great at anything. You like Pandora? Apple Music has Radio, both presets and highly customizable stations that can be seeded from just one artist, one album or one song. You like playlists? Apple Music inherited all of Beats playlists and added many more of its own. But many of the playlists were too short for me. You like streaming? Apple Music does that too though I encountered several delays across the past two days but that just might be opening week snafus. I'm not positive but it sounds like the streaming bitrate might be a bit lower than Spotify Premium based on my headphone listening - everything seemed a little dull, a little muted. For the rest of my three month trial, I'm going to test Apple Music on my iPhone for use in the Blueberry and on my iPad for personal listening or broadcasting to my ungrateful neighborhood from out by the pool. But for the foreseeable future, Spotify Premium maintains its position as my music provider of choice, ugly new color green icon and all. Be sure to hit me up if you had any corrections, tips or comments. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna finally read what everyone else has been saying about Apple Music. This three day Internet news blackout has been a test for sure.