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Apple Music continues to grow and evolve, with a catalog of 40 million songs. This article explains why Apple Music still needs to improve.
Apple music debuted in the summer of 2015, with much fanfare. Apple was going to save the music industry from “invaders from the North” — Spotify. While they promised to offer musicians better compensation, Apple was quickly shamed by Taylor Swift for not paying artists during the free trial period. The Cupertino tech giant quickly changed course and agreed to compensate rights holders, even during the free trial. Their promise to compensate artists better than competitors remains murky. As it stands, only Spotify offers transparency about the economics of artist compensation.
Apple Music is Buggy
I eagerly awaited Apple Music and started using it the day it launched. The app was plagued with problems. Most notably, Apple Music had 30 second dropouts when playing music, even with downloaded music. After an update, it was unusably slow on my 2011 iPad 2. Although it was an older device, Apple Music shouldn’t be doing anything processor intensive. I have no problems using Spotify or even playing video games on the device. Spotify even works on my old iPhone 4! It was just sloppy coding. Audio dropouts were also a problem on my iPhone 6. No matter what device I used, Apple Music was frustrating.
The big bugs were devastating, but the small defects were numerous. Quite famously, adding a track to a playlist would often result in two additional duplicates. Users also complained that Apple Music destroyed their music library by deleting music. After much silence, Apple eventually admitted to the bug and fixed it. I stayed away from integrating Apple Music with my iTunes library.
Beyond offering a defective app, Apple Music was missing a lot of albums. With only 30 million songs, people with diverse musical tastes had to fill in the blanks with album purchases. This undermines the savings one expects from a music subscription service. On top of the $10 monthly fee, users still must purchase albums.
To some extent, this will always be the case. People who subscribe to Netflix still need to buy or rent movies elsewhere. Similarly, music subscription services will always have holdouts. Rare and lesser known albums may slip through the cracks. There’s an awful lot of music in the world. I don’t think any music subscription service will ever have all of it.
Switched to Spotify
I switched to Spotify immediately after my free Apple Music trial elapsed. Spotify’s app is perfect — flawless and feature-rich. With its graphic EQ, crossfader and excellent music discovery, it’s still the best app I have used. It also offers a higher quality audio format, with its 320 kbps bit rate. Apple Music uses a 256 kbps format for all of their music. The difference is noticeable, especially on high-end audio equipment.
Unfortunately, Spotify suffered from the same lack of music. They also only had 30 million songs, but their selection was different. Some albums I enjoyed on Apple Music were not on Spotify, and vice-versa. It’s hard to justify spending $10 a month when one still needs to buy albums. I noticed that Spotify even lost the rights to some albums. One day, Eric Dolphy’s seminal album Iron Man just disappeared. This really made me question the value of music subscription services.
Switched to Google Play Music
I was browsing the web one day, when I came across the Google Play Music website. I really didn’t know a lot about Google Play Music. The media have given it the cold shoulder, focusing instead on Apple Music and Spotify. I was blown away to learn that Google Play Music offered a library of 35 million songs — 5 million more than Spotify or Apple Music. (UPDATE: Google Play Music now has 40 million songs.) They also offered a 320 kbps audio format, which actually sounds a little better than Spotify. As others have noticed, stereo separation is more defined. next page →
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