Beats Music review: So good I may finally ditch Rdio!

Aside from it playing me MMMBOP, I'm loving it!

Now that Beats Music is finally available, it has a lot of folks wondering how it stacks up to the likes of existing services and whether it's worth making the switch. I've been taking a look at what Beats Music has to offer for the exact same reason. I've completely set aside my main streaming services, Rdio and Songza, in order to give it a fair chance. And after a few days, my decision has become harder than ever.

I've been using Beats Music in replacement of Rdio and Songza since it launched. iMore is my full time job and working from home means I've always got music playing in the background. When I'm on the go, my iPhone is also my main source of music whether in the coffee shop, in the car, or what have you. I'll start off by saying that I've only experienced about two to three hiccups with streaming issues. All of those times I was on the cellular network so I'm not quick to pass blame on the service itself. Either way, I know many people have had legitimate issues, but I'm glad to see Beats Music is attempting to make them right by extending trials.

Beats Music for iPhone review

Moving on the the actual experience of using Beats Music, we'll start with initial setup. Upon first launching the app you're asked to pick from random artists you like, don't like, and really like. The same thing goes for genres. Beats Music then loads curated content based on what you've selected. Just like any other streaming service, you can like and dislike songs from here on out. The service should then get smarter and start to cherry pick content based on your listening habits. On almost every artist page and now playing page you can also scroll down and see a list of recommended artists and songs based on your tastes, which in my experience have been awesome suggestions.

As far as curation goes, I'm extremely impressed with what Beats Music has served up in the few short days that I've been using the service. I've been using Rdio for a long time now and while it also does an excellent job, it took several weeks for the service to finally pick up on my tastes and preferences. Beats Music managed to be on par with Rdio in a matter of days, which leaves me excited to discover even more music even faster than before.

Beats Music for iPhone review

When it comes to actually using Beats Music and navigating around the app in order to find things to listen to, the layout is one of the best I've used in terms of simplicity. The tabs that run along the top make it easy for you to choose how you want to find music. From there you can drill down further. The sentence method of selecting a playlist is not only entertaining but curates some pretty damned good playlists. This is the method I'd recommend using for parties and beach days. It reminds me of Songza to a certain extent, but with less boundaries.

Over the last several months we've seen multiple streaming services such as Rdio, Spotify, and Pandora switching up their offerings and making them more accessible. For many of them, that means free web streaming and limited access to their mobile apps without having to pony up any cash. Beats Music doesn't offer any of this and doesn't pretend that it isn't a premium service. Even though other streaming services also let you vote music up and down in order to learn your preferences, they aren't creating their entire service around it. For the most part, you're on your own. Songza initially broke this barrier but Beats Music appears to have completely shattered it.

Beats Music for iPhone review

Similar to Rdio and Spotify, Beats Music also gives you the option to physically download music for offline listening. One thing I've never cared for with Spotify is that they limit the amount of music you can do this with. Rdio and Beats Music both allow you to store as much music as you like, as long as you have the space available.

Pricing for Beats Music is $9.99 a month which puts it directly in line with other competitors such as Spotify and Rdio. AT&T subscribers can get an even better deal as a family plan for $15 a month. In my opinion, other services such as iTunes Radio and Pandora aren't on demand so pricing comparisons between them probably don't have much value since they cater to different audiences.

Beats Music for iPhone review

The good

  • Well thought out design that makes discovering music not only easy, but fun
  • Lots of ways to browse and sort your music which should suit almost anyone's preferences
  • There's already over 20 million songs available in the Beats Music library
  • Offline mode doesn't limit the amount of songs you can store on your iPhone
  • As far as curation goes, Beats Music is dead on accurate 99.9% of the time

The bad

  • No Mac app currently available
  • Somehow MMMBop was played, and that's never okay

The bottom line

When it comes to music curation, Beats Music doesn't disappoint. The care and attention that went into balancing usability and feature set shows. Music is meant to be a personal experience and in that aspect, Beats Music has succeeded.

I'm going to give Beats Music some more time before I make a final decision, but I think I'm leaning towards finally letting go of Rdio, Mac app or not. Songza I'm still undecided about since it's only a few bucks a month and is super convenient for parties and random genres. If you've given Beats Music a trial run, let us know what you think so far. Are you thinking about ditching your current streaming service or are you sticking with it? Let me know in the comments!

Allyson Kazmucha

iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.

  • Dude I have to admit, before actually beginning my trial I thought you might just be fanboy-ing it out... However I'm only the first few hours into my trial and I'm already contemplating ditching Spotify. It's awesome! I'm bed impressed at how it curates my taste very quickly and how accurate it is at getting exactly what I want to hear. Again, I'm impressed! Awesome review dude. Sent from the iMore App
  • Duuuude. Sent from the iMore App
  • It's not what i expected at all. I hate beats headphones (I'm a Bose girl through and through) - and I was skeptical given how late to the game they were. In this case, maybe slow and steady wins the race?
  • Same here with the Bose and I usually don't like streaming music (more of a local user) but this has definitely changed my attitude! Sent from the iMore App
  • I actually have both the QC15 and the new Beats Studios and actually prefer the Beats most of the time for most modern music. But when listening to Jazz and Classical, I prefer my QC15s much more. I will admit that the Bose do kill the Beats when it comes to actual noise cancellation. As for the music app, I actually do kind of like it as well. I am not one for streaming music as I like to keep it resident on my device, however, the way it curates the music and factors in my likes and dislikes, it seems to do a pretty good job so far.
  • I'm looking at upgrading to the new QCs to replace my MIE2i's Sent from the iMore App
  • Well, you will definitely enjoy them more than the MIE2i. I had the original in-ear and they sound good, I never liked the lack of seal for an in-ear earphone. Plus the QCs are just oh so comfortable to wear.
  • I personally want to give the Bluetooth ones a spin (AE2w I think). I loved my AE2's though! Sent from the iMore App
  • Ha, I'm just here disliking Beats and Bose ha ha, I say to each their own, everyone hears differently. Sent from the iMore App
  • I normally would have in the past as I was a huge Sony MDR-V6 and MDR-V600 fan, two great studio cans for a good price nowadays. However, I love noise canceling sets and these two fit the bill for me, especially, as you say what I hear for music.
  • I ditched Xbox Music for this app. I don't think I'll ever find anything better, the ease of saving albums/playlists to my device is simply wonderful. I can change my morning commute playlist every morning in just minutes if I'd like to. Enjoying my (2) week free trial as we speak. Sent from the iMore App
  • Just got it, not sure about it yet. didn't really find many artists that I like in it's curation bubbles. Listening to Thelonious Monk now tho. So there's that.
  • Start liking things and purposely search. After about 5 minutes of doing that, it got my music style.
  • Did you see the button at the bottom of the screen that refreshed the artists in the curation bubbles?
  • yeah, spent about 20 minutes clicking it to find about 7 artists. Overall I love the design of the app, but I almost immediately missed my Spotify playlists.
  • What's up with MMMBOP??? Lol. I went for this service just cos Trent Reznor is behind it. Is that enough? Time will tell..... Sent from the iMore App
  • The company was founded on stabbing others in the back (father and son at Monster), so, no matter how good the service is, I would never do business with them. Plus, it's amazing how many young people buy their crappy headphones for outrageous prices....and somehow think it's cool to wear big over-the-ear headphones in public or at the gym! WTF?!
  • Well being one of these "young people" I have to first say that over-the-ear headphones just provide a better quality of music that earbuds just can't supply. Ever. (Although I will agree with wearing them to the gym) Also I agree that Beats suck. Bose (or at the very least, Sennheiser) only. Not all us young people follow trends :-p
  • Agreed. Sent from the iMore App
  • See above such as Westone 4s or their custom models. (Edit: Oops--this was supposed to be below the other one...argh!)
  • I don't agree. Try some high end earbuds--you'll be amazed....and still look me! ;-)
  • I use in-ear. Never over the air. I think we were talking about different versions of the QCs by Bose above. I want the in-ear versions. Sent from the iMore App
  • Aren't Apple products overpriced??
  • Apple headphones sure are.
  • My Rdio account was due to be renewed on the 18th. I cancelled it in anticipation of Beats coming out the following tuesday. I'm glad I did. So far I have had very few issues and am extremely happy with the service.
  • So far so good, Purple Haze followed by Ain't Talkin Bout Love, then something I don't now, didn't care for it. Sent from the iMore App
  • Hmm...after some time, I'll give it a little longer but it's starting to look like iTunes Radio still wins. I'm picky about my music and iTunes gets that. I'm trying to help beats the best I can though. Sent from the iMore App
  • i'll do the trial but i don't stream music much. One problem i've always had is the curation. Their idea of how songs fit together often makes no sense. Like Pandora would play NWA then like Vanilla Ice cause it's all rap in their mind. Or other songs combos that you wouldn't play together. From what i heard the big thing about beats is they took care to design how curation is done and have humans doing some of it rather than always a computer going, NWA is rap, Vanilla Ice is rap thus he wants to hear this. Or like it would play something like Mc Eiht and then Heiroglyphics. Now i love both but as a former dj let me say it's a hard mix to go from Eiht to Heiro. Maybe Eiht to Kurupt to alkaholiks to Heiro.
  • I dunno. Feels weird to use a service who's founders got famous for selling over price terrible headphones. Service just seems like a money grab to me
  • really think he got famous off headphones? Smh
  • you honestly think Dre was not famous before he made headphones? You think nobody knew Jimmy Lovine was before Beats by Dre? Yeah ok. They had several multi-platinum records, Grammy nominations, acting roles, The Chronic, NWA, and a bonifide megaproducer and another a producer of the likes of Springsteen, U2, tv, film, and founder of Interscope records. Buddy, you're a bit lacking in music knowledge.
  • Agreed LOL
  • I meant beats, the company. Sorry, shouldn't have said founders. What I meant was the company that created it, beats. I don't know how I feel about that company making a service like this where all they did was sucker people into buying their terrible headphones.
  • Thanks for the review. I guess it won't hurt to give it a try for the free trial. Sent from the iMore App
  • Does anybody know how to share the account with the 5 people? Do you need to just give them your log ins? Or do they have their own?
  • click the at&t family plan link on the home page and have them enter their phone number. for me, it automatically associated that number with the family plan, texted a code to the phone, etc. i have read there have been some difficulties with this, but i was fortunate to have no hiccups...
  • Looks decent. I've never paid for a music subscription service and I'm not sure I ever would. I only had a few minutes to look at it last night but the scenarios it gave me for determing what music I wanted to listen to seemed kind of stupid. I ended up with I'm at the mall (no option for home?), cooking (wasn't cooking, no good option) with cats (again, no good option) listening to new age (it didn't give me an option for classic rock even though that's what I had clearly selected as my favorite during the initial "pick the bubbles" phase). If it's not going to give fairly accurate options to try and match your mood and/or what you're doing then it comes off as a worthless gimmick to me. I'll give it more time this weekend and next week and see how it adjusts.
  • Its not hit the UK apps store yet. Boo!
  • long term i'm not paying to stream music. period. But if i did i'd eventually use it. the suggestions are on point. that said one detterant is they need more artists material. They don't have enough of some of my favorite artists probably cause they aren't mainstream and and that's the essence of my issue with all these services. if i listened to mainstream radio music i'd probably love it
  • I have been using Rhapsody since roughly 2006 and I have tried so many over the years and none has felt quite right. I have a rather different taste in music, and Rhapsody has found 99% of all songs I want. I'm giving Beats a fair shot for the next 14 days by making it my only source of music. Let's see what happens...
  • I have never been into the subscription services. Maybe I'm old skool but I like to own whatever I pay for. Sent from the iMore App
  • Says not available in your country :-( Sent from the iMore App
  • I'm trying out beats music and I really do want to get it but its just starting my play list all over again Sent from the iMore App
  • Have to say I really am addicted to Beats Music love the UI and music curation is getting better for me I was a early adopter so had to deal with some of the bugs that plagued the app when first launched, will say with the updates rolled out its much better and will only get better over time.