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My Apple Music bliss

I know Apple Music has been painful for a lot of people, including some friends of mine. I realize that if you came to Apple Music with a large existing collection of music, ripped or downloaded over many year, and you were used to managing it in a specific way, then you likely experienced a ton of frustration. For me, though, subscribing to Apple Music (opens in new tab) has been complete and utter bliss — the future of music I've always dreamed about.

No music no cry

I've never had a huge music collection. I've bought maybe a few dozen CDs over the years, and maybe a few hundred songs on iTunes. I enjoy almost every type of music, but I grew up listening to the radio and listening to songs serendipitously.

So, the minute Apple enabled re-downloads and, eventually, iTunes Match, I stopped even worrying about it. I just signed in and streamed whatever I had, and once in a while added something new. If I wanted to hear something else, but not enough to buy it, I launched Slacker or looked for it on YouTube and, if it wasn't available, I moved on to something else.

Then came Apple Music.

I liked Beats 1 immediately and for the same reason I liked radio as a child. For You was cool, but I was never really into playlists — I like wondrous diversity. My Music seemed pretty close to what I already had with iTunes Match.

But Siri changed everything.

All around the listen tower

The moment I saw what Siri could do with Apple Music, I was hooked. Almost any song I wanted to listen to, at almost any time or any place I wanted to listen to it.

I say "almost" because there are still some holdouts: While most popular music is available, a lot of regional content might not be. Other than that, though, any time a song pops into my head and I want to hear it out loud, I can simply call up Siri and ask for it to be played.

AND IT PLAYS.

I can be talking to my mom and call up ABBA. I can be joking around with Leo Laporte on TWiT, and a minute later Roger Whittaker is playing. I can be with a friend and ask for the Alien Ant Farm version of Smooth Criminal. I can leave the theater after seeing Straight Outta Compton, and a minute later Ice Cube's When Will They Shoot or Public Enemy's Rebirth will be blaring. I can come off the highway and, few minutes later, switch to I've Got a Feeling from Buffy: The Musical or to Pavarotti's rendition of Nessun dorma! And Adele can drop by and say Hello any time I want her to.

Everything from ancient instrumentals to modern movie scores to the best or most obscure of the last few decades of music, all almost instantly available. And all I have to do is ask. "Play hits from the 80s!" "What was the song from Rocky III?" The world has opened up.

I've been listening to music from my childhood, my teens, and from Beats 1. Music I haven't heard in years and just discovered for the first time.

The confluence of technologies that had to come together to make Siri and Apple Music possible is stupefying. The only thing more unbelievable is that it has happened. It's actually here and it really, truly works.

Hey Siri

Because I was never deeply invested in physical or digital music before, I'm perhaps the ideal customer for Apple Music. But because of all that, I also find Apple Music is ideal for me.

Granted the service needs to get better, Music.app needs to become more opinionated and coherent, and problems involving local content have to be solved or separated. And there's a lot of indications Apple is already working on all of that.

Either way, for me, for now, Apple Music is total bliss. And all it takes to get it is $9 a month and two magic-seeming words.

"Hey Siri!"

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

34 Comments
  • I think we all know by now that the Alien Ant Farm version of Smooth Criminal is your favorite song Rene :) Sent from the iMore App
  • Rene, can i use apple music without it playing with my music collection ? Sent from the iMore App
  • If you are using the same iTunes account to use Apple Music, your iTunes music collection will be automatically included. Just be aware of many of the problems that many people including myself have had with Apple Music as long time iTunes users. I downloaded all of my music and other purchases from iTunes and stored them on external hard drives for safe keeping. I'm not saying everyone will experience the same problems I have, but you should know that many people have had these problems. That said, there are some huge benefits to moving to Apple Music as your source for listening. Siri works extremely well. It's one of the best uses for Siri yet.
  • I love Apple Music. Such a nice way to end the week, on Friday morning, to browse all the new release albums and add the one you like in MyMusic. It's so easy... Fun to discover many new artists this way too :) I used to like Beats1 but stopped listen to it. Why ? Nothing was catching my attention anymore. I felt it's always the same type of music over and over and dont feel like part of the gang with some hosts (too inclusive)... but still open to rediscovering it....Also, Apple needs to improve the offering with more diversity and more exclusive stuffs like they will do with the streaming of concert etc. My only real downside with Apple Music is really Connect... or Ping 2... I see no interest so far with Connect since it's often the same video / photo from Facebook, twitter that the artists are posting there (if they post it since even the artists seems already bored with it). I would have love to see Connect open to amateur artist / band to help them to connect with the artists or more people.... ;)
  • I tried Apple Music for the free trial, but ended up back with Google Music. I like being able to play music using the web from any computer that I'm at without installing software. For example, I can stream music on my work laptop without the need for iTunes. Also, the final nail for me was when I was listening to some of the stations and wasn't able to hit the back button to either listen to the song again or listen to any previous songs. For me, Google Music offers the best features.
  • Rene would rather suffer with no music than try another platform its eems. The rest of us have been doing this for years.
  • Seems like Rene is exercising his right to use whatever service he wants.
  • I eventually switched from Google Music to Apple Music mainly because, at the end of the day, experiencing Google Music to its fullest potential requires the use of Google Chrome. I figured that, if I was going to rely on a resource hog to playback music on my PCs (one being a MacBook Pro, the other being a Surface 3), I might as well have it be iTunes. In the end, for me at least, it means having a sluggish experience on one system instead of two. Plus there are actually quite a bit of albums I have that are in the iTunes Store and/or Apple Music but not offered up by Google Music All Access. That and the Google Music app seemed to chew through my iPhone 6s Plus's battery faster than the Music app (when playing back content that had been downloaded).
  • For me there is another disadvantage to using Google Music. The IOS app does not have an EQ.
  • Some like Music and some don't. Some find it confusing. I don't Subscribe.
  • Rene has hit upon the thing that makes Apple Music more compelling to me than anything else: tight, OS-level integration, especially with Siri. This is also a hidden strength of the Apple Watch, when it works as a remote for the iPhone. It's great in the car or when I've docked my phone on our giant Zeppelin speaker. I don't have to touch my phone, just speak into my wrist. Magical. I heard a rumor that Spotify putting its infrastructure into the Google cloud is a step on the way to getting acquired by them. I haven't touched Spotify since Apple Music came along, but I do miss their social playlists. I have full access to Google Music because of my YouTube Red subscription (because ads are gross), and it would be neat to have that as a solid alternative. Two subscriptions is bad enough, I'm not carrying 3! :-)
  • I agree with Rene. I like the tight Siri integration of Apple Music, and being able to listen to anything, new or old, at any time. Some people balk at $9.99 a month, but its actually a great value, if you listen to music or comedy regularly. I am not a fan of Beats 1. They seem to play a lot of the same genre of music (Hip-Hop mostly). Nothing wrong with that type of music, but its not my preference. It would be nice if Apple had some other music types, like Rock, or Pop. Maybe have a Beats station for each.
  • Even better is paying only $15 a month for 6 people in my family to have  Music and access to just about any tune! But, Rene, NEVER, EVER ask Siri to play anything by That-Band-From-Sweden-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named!! It could break the internet, Siri, and your iPhone!!
  • I was one of the unlucky people whose iTunes library was completely destroyed by Apple Music. Fortunately, I had a backup so I was able to get everything back and cancel my trial membership. Does anyone know if this problem has been fixed so that it's safe to try again??
  • Mine was never hosed like I read about. About 20K songs. I do think that bug was resolved though. Can't confirm, just that all my music is still my music, and not Apple Music
  • I'm finding the same thing to be true of both Rhapsody and Google Music. Thought Apple Music on my iPhone 6s Plus was a disaster. Cancelled.
  • I can't agree with you more Rene. And I'll add this, it all flows so seamlessly into my car, which is where I mostly listen to music. So these artists I used to be fans of putting their music exclusively on Tidal ain't phasing me none, I'd rather not hear their music than give up the one thing I'd been waiting for since I got my first iPhone.
  • Apple Music destroyed my iTunes library. I'll forever remain a customer of Spotify
  • That's the boat I'm in, until today when Spotify announced they have moved to Google Cloud platform for their infrastructure. If that's the first sign of acquisition, I may give Apple Music another look. Hopefully with a new iTunes soon down the road.
  • How is Spotify moving to Google cloud a sign of acquisition? If they were to move to AWS, will that be a sign of them being acquired by Amazon? I don't think this train of though is correct.
  • This is a tweet from a pretty solid tech industry guy, Om Malik: "First step towards acquisition by Google. Also, how much do you want to bet that Google gave it for almost FREE. https://t.co/1U6vPKYkzy". That's why I asked the question.
  • Actually the same thing happened to me. I returned to Spotify but still hope Apple will fix Music.
  • I tried Apple Music, not for me. I have a huge library and while I can keep things separate, I don't like the stock player of iOS so I use Ecoute. Having a ton of songs means that I didn't see a compelling reason to use any streaming service that costs money. I used Apple Music probably 3 times during the trial, and they were songs I had but I didn't have it in my device. As soon as Google upped the limit to their music uploads, that's my solution for music I don't have one my phone. But again, though I rarely use it, it's there when I need it, And it's free. I'll stick with my music and save the $10 for something I'll use more. I don't hate Apple Music, but it doesn't fit into my musical "schedule."
  • I have a large collection that got destroyed by Apple Music. I am back to Spotify unit they split iTunes and Apple Music into two separate apps. I don't want it messing up my metadata again....
  • Rene, what do you think of my suggestions to improve Apple Music? https://medium.com/@colinjrobertson/two-things-apple-music-could-do-to-d...
  • If I had a $100 bill for every time Rene mentioned Alien Ant Farm Smooth Criminal, I'd be a billionaire that Bernie Sanders rails against. Seriously, how many times can a person stand listening to that song?!
  • Spotify is better Posted from my Nexus 6P
  • Well let me see if I can understand this correctly. Rene Ritchie approves of something from Apple? Not exactly breaking news here.
  • I love Apple Music, it helped me find an album that I thought Apple had removed from my iTunes library but it was hidden. Sent from the iMore App
  • I have about 20,000 tracks in iTunes, from my many years of spending every Tuesday night (when it was new release day) at the local Newbury Comics (a local New England chain that, in the 90's, was primarily CDs). Painstakingly ripped in iTunes and tagged with tools like TuneIn throughout the years. When iTunes Match came out, I signed up day one. It was never painful for me, some issues with Matching that, over the years, got better. Over time, I upgraded the quality of my rips through iTunes Match. All was well. I stopped buying physical CDs, and relied on iTunes (and the occasional Amazon MP3). Then came Apple Music. Signed up day one on a Family Plan with me, my wife, and two tween/teen daughters. Aside from a few initial hiccups getting the family set up right, it's been pretty error free ever since. The only issue I have is that occasionally is that on my iPhone, I get the "helpful" ERROR OCCURRED screen. I am sure it is a combination of Apple Hype/Marketing oversimplifying, and the quality of the data in, that causes a large share of the issues people have.
  • I tried Apple Music briefly, and I listen to Beats1 occasionally. One of the reasons why I decided to stick with Google Play Music (vs Apple Music) was sound quality. The audio quality on Apple Music is noticeably lower than with Google Play Music. I've tried Spotify and Tidal as well. Spotify & Google Play Music sound pretty much the same to me in terms of quality, but Apple Music is way behind, even just listening in the car or via my iPhone with average (under $80) headphones. Tidal (at least their $20/mo plan) does sound better than all of them, but I didn't like it for other reasons.
  • Currently Im using both services Apple Music and Spotify on my iPhone 6S and MacBook Air. But i can't decide for wich one i will go to, Spotify makes it easier for me to expect new music like from other public playlists. The other point is that with Apple Music i don't have to use a 3rd party streaming app and it perfectly matches in my iOS Univers also its very clean designed.
  • Tried it for a few months but their algorithms completely failed to feed me music I actually like despite tapping circles laboriously to provide as much guidance as possible. Now they've removed genre radios which were the only thing I could semi rely on for decent music to listen to. Their biggest problem of all is the lack of a small desktop app for playback. Needing to open iTunes is simply a put off. Sticking with Youtube Red for now since Google Play can just be opened in another tab of a web browser. Same goes for Amazon Music. Thankfully, Beats 1 is free but in all honesty that's about all its worth. Nothing but the same Hip-Pop auto-tuned garbage that is cluttering the radio.
  • I tried Apple Music when it first came out and deemed it a failure from top to bottom. That was a few months ago when it was first released. I, too, have an extended library of music that I have purchased via iTunes over the years, and turning on Apple Music obliterated many of my playlists as well as misplacing lots of music that I had purchased. Put simply, Apple Music was chaos. Serious chaos. So, now, a few months later, I'm using Apple Music, but only after having a serious change of thought on how I can benefit from Apple Music. Once I got my original iTunes purchases and playlists back in order AND downloaded, I stored my iTunes library folder with all of my purchased music and playlists on a couple of backup hard drives for safe keeping. I have everything downloaded from music to movies to TV shows. All downloaded. Then, I turned on Apple Music again knowing that the same thing would happen as before, and it did. But this time knowing this would happen I decided to move forward with it, acknowledging this to be a minor point for a greater purpose. If I lost music this time, I could still include those albums and songs via Apple Music rather than the iTunes store. And any music I didn't lose this time around, well, I've still got them in my library. What needs to be said here is that the Apple Music experience is conceptually different than the iTunes purchasing experience. Also, one of the reasons I experienced so much grief in losing music before had to do with iTunes Match, and the problems I had initially with Apple Music actually began when Apple first released iTunes Match. Bottom line, why do I want to use Apple Music now? I purchased a new car back in the fall with Apple Carplay, and Apple Music works extremely well with Carplay. Using Siri with Apple Music and Carplay trumps everything for me. It works that well. Even using Siri at home with Apple Music has changed the way I listen and access music. So, the way I got over the hump from iTunes centric music acquisition to Apple Music is to realize they are both different. Now I'm enjoying the benefits of Apple Music and listening to everything I want, and Siri works great on Apple Music.