Global players like Spottify and Pandora have not been available in India all these years – at least not officially. Music streaming services catering to Indian tastes have been around – Gaana and Saavn come to mind. As a music lover, I have relied on downloads via iTunes and online radio services like TuneIn and Radium. Rdio’s India’s launch was a welcome move for folks like me.
But the biggest news of all, the one we were all eagerly looking forward to, was the launch of Apple Music.
I downloaded iOS 8.4 within minutes of it being available and was up and running Apple Music in no time. I signed up for the 3-month free trial, chose a few artists I like and began to explore the various features immediately. The thing about India pricing is that it is at a competitive Rs.120 per month, which is well within the reach of many smartphone users. Obviously Apple will hit the big numbers in India only when it offers Apple Music on the Android platform here. Nevertheless, the pricing seems right for the market.
The first thing that occurred to me was the slightly overwhelming choice of features on Apple Music. Beats1 radio, the regular iTunes store (under ‘new’), My Music, For You and Connect can be a daunting task from a user experience point of view. But I thought Apple has done a fantastic job in making everything easily accessible. As I said earlier I do not have a benchmark or prior experience with Spottify for comparison. The Beats1 radio is a refreshing throwback to the old ‘classic’ FM radio days with real DJs and conversations with music celebrities and requests. It plays far too much hip hop & rap for my liking but I do enjoy discovering new music and the charts. I spend more time on the other featured stations like Rock and Jazz. I wish the nomenclature of the stations were a bit more clearer: it wasn’t immediately clear for me what ‘Sound System’ and ‘All-City’ were.
The ‘For You’ tab throws up interesting music and playlists based on what’s already in your library. The recommended playlists for me include ‘Intro to John Coltrane’, ‘Arctic Monkeys: Deep Cuts’ and ‘Rise and Shine to Indie Rock’. The playlists keep changing depending on what you mark as ‘favourite’. The My Music tab is where your playlists reside. I chose to manage my music through ‘iCloud Music Library’ and found some of the songs & playlists missing. After sorting out playlists on my Mac, everything is hunky dory now. It is fun to make changes to a playlist and see it immediately getting populated across your iOS and Mac devices – that’s the power of iCloud right there for you. The most powerful yet under-utilised feature for me is the ‘Connect’ tab. I guess for those who keenly follow music groups (I don’t) it will be a nifty feature with their updates and news exclusives.
All in all, I am spending a lot of time on Apple Music, discovered many songs and have bought loads of songs. A happy ending for an Apple fan who is also a fan of good music.