Apple Music leaves me confused

by Volker Weber

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I have a few Apple products I love. iPhone, MacBook Pro, even software like Keynote. But Apple Music leaves me confused. Here is what is working for me: I can enter my credentials in Sonos and search the service for music, which will play throughout the house. It has sections with curated music for me, but they never hit my taste or mood. It has a section for new music, same here. It has Beats 1, a radio station where the DJs talk way too much.

But I can't even figure out how to keep track of music I love. When I want to create a playlist for stuff that is only on the service, it asks me to enable iCloud Music Library. That would be fine, if iCloud Music Library would not try to match my local library. Why is that a problem? It appears to enable you to make all of your music available on all your devices. But if you do that, it will pollute your tracks with DRM once you make the tracks available offline on your other devices. And you will not notice until you unsubscribe from Apple Music. Crippled tracks just look like your original ones.

And then there is iTunes Match, which is yet another subscription. It supposedly does the same thing as iCloud Music Library: make all your Music available on all your devices. However, this isn't transparent. Once you go offline, you may find yourself without any tracks whatsoever, since you needed to download them first.

It's all very confusing. Repeat after me: DRM is bad for the customer.

Comments

This does seem to be solved better in Google Music.
Played music gets cached, synced personal tracks can be downloaded again, as far as I know.

Daniel Haferkorn, 2016-02-12

This iCloud Music Library is really confusing and after a short try I turned it off - e.g. if the music in my local iTunes library is "known" to Apple then it is made available to other devices directly out of the iTunes-Cloud which may result e.g. in different covers - which almost caused a heart attack as I thought my tracks have been changed also at home :)

The DRM stuff is for me not a real issue - as I usually have the original at home and do not care about the copy on the other devices. But after turning on the iCloud Music Library it is no longer possible to sync locally - and I can see everything I have locally which is just too much for outside listening. This is the same for photos as I do not plan to have ALL of my photos in iCloud - otherwise I could not selectively sync from home. Online access is not always the best solution due to coverage and bandwidth.

Bernd Schuster, 2016-02-12

Could not agree more, Volker. "Confusing" is also the first things that comes to mind my when thinking of Apple Music. It surprising that Spotify is better in a classical Apple domain: Simplicity and Easy of use.
However, blending your local library and the streaming services is something that only Apple Music offere - so somehow making the NAS redundant which made your local library available for SONOS. But instead of finding it useful, it just increase complexity and confusion. I have tried twice to go for Apple Music and both times I returned to Spotify more happy than before. Better music selection, very easy to use offline mode. And there's one more thing: Many, many audio books (even in German) which you don't find in Apple Music either.

Jens Nullmeyer, 2016-02-12

For me it's not confusing because I'm only using the Apple Music to listen to songs you can't listen to at Spotify (Adele, 25 for example, which I bought in iTunes). And that is about to stop after the 3 months trial.

I'm happy with Spotify, because for me the curated playlists are great. I normally don't want to choose which artist I like to hear. I'm choosing the music which fits to my current situation or mood. And the curated playlists from Spotify are doing a great job.

Thomas Lang, 2016-02-12

I just signed up for Apple Music yesterday, and so far I'm pretty happy with the service. I'm only using it for streaming on my Sonos and Apple devices, I don't have any music in my iTunes library, so all the hubbub about messed up libraries doesn't apply to me.

The interface on the iPad still could use some love, on some screens there are a few too many buttons available, with too little description. Once you get the hang with adding albums and playlists to your library, it's quite pleasant to use. Marking tracks for offline usage works fine, so does the Siri integration. "Hey Siri, play me some London Grammar" is really delightful.

The Sonos integration is still a bit rough, though. There doesn't seem to be a way to "heart" things, which works with Soundcloud for example. Played tracks don't feed the recommendation algorithms, compared to the playback on iOS. Search only shows tracks and artists, but no playlists like "Introduction to" an artist.

Now that the service has almost reached 1.0 status, I'm confident it'll improve over time. Hopefully that applies to the Sonos part as well.

Jochen Schug , 2016-02-12

I also agree with those sentiments. I also am just not sure how to properly use Apple Music. For streaming Spotify is just simpler in every respect. For local music, then why would I use Apple Music when I can play local files that I own. Jens says it right as it should make life easier. But it does not.

As for "For you". Well no. It's rare I find music on there that is "for me".

I'm coming to the end of the trial, which I started to use with Sonos. It just seems a struggle to find and play music with Apple Music. The service will get cancelled when it expires.

Chris Lindley, 2016-02-15

I already cancelled.

Volker Weber, 2016-02-15

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I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.

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