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Apple Music now has 38M paid members (techcrunch.com)
196 points by prostoalex 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 269 comments

In Apple's keynotes, they often claim that they "love music". But their app misses some basics that people who actually love music might like to have: To be able to sort music by year (and have year of release not be year of reissue), exclude various greatest hits reissues if you want to 'discover' an artist's works, and not default to shuffle when you haven't used the app for a while, because I don't know, maybe I'm old fashioned, but I'd like to listen to an album in the order that the artist put the songs in.

It would also be great if syncing your own music to a device actually worked without issues (such as not copying the entire album, which you inevitably discover later, on the road). I stopped listening to music on the way to work because of all the roadblocks the app put in the way.

It's utterly beyond me how the largest tech company in the world can't sort basics of their their UI out, over periods of years.

I absolutely abhor the Apple Music UI.

Why...WHY is it that people design stuff like this?

> Why are the fonts so large that you can't see list of songs properly? > Why do I have to click so many times to be able to view all songs in an album? > Within a couple of clicks, I should be able to view a list of songs in my playlist and I can sort it the way I want. By year, by genre, by any parameter of the song > Same thing for albums list and artists list

Unbelievable - the new UI paradigm with BOLD fonts and large negative space is eating into the limited valuable real estate on a mobile device.

What goes into these people's minds? Can someone shed some light?

>What goes into these people's minds? Can someone shed some light?

Maybe I can shed _some_ light.

I worked for one of the big music streaming services for a while.

>limited valuable real estate on a mobile device.

Maximizing data density on a screen is absolutely not a goal on any 'large audience' app.

Yes, an app with tons of data crammed on a screen would make some folks happy in the HN/geeky communities (I am not sure that's true actually, but that's something that I often see power users asking for).

That's not who these apps are targeting though.

The design of these apps is often a mix between opinionated choices (basically what is trendy right now in the design circles) and what works in user testing.

Turns out, most of our users are ABSOLUTELY lost when they have to interact with a mobile app.

Music streaming services have way too many features :

albums playlists radios some kind of AI powered automatically created track lists (all services give this a different name, but they all have pretty much the same feature) lyrics, podcasts

On top of that, there is a ton of data for every single track : title album artist composer !!!! (classical music treatment is usually awful in any streaming app) . has lyrics ? is downloaded on your device ?

The player adds another layer of complexity : current track queue random mode repeat mode

Here is the dirty little secret of the music streaming industry : how to present all this in a way that allows random users (not geeks) to efficiently interact with the app : nobody knows how to do that :/ .

There is just way too many information to cram on a screen.

To pile on that, usual development cycles are focused on releasing new features, either to keep up with the competition or because that's how PMs demonstrate that they are 'improving' the app.

It is orthogonal to actually improving the user experience and we can see cycles of several years where the UI becomes more and more bloated with random stuff until designers are able to push a redesign with half of the features.

And soon we start cramming features again until the end of this new cycle.

I think there is a balance between something that looks like Apple Music and an excel spreadsheet full of information.

Apple Music is way out of the normal density expected from a quality app. Apple has a phenomenal understanding of UI and they're one of the best - just look at the UI of the settings menu on your iPhone. Everything is cleanly laid out - just the right amount of information density. Apple Music seems like it was designed by someone like Will-I-Am (sorry :-) ) with absolutely zero understanding of basic functional UI principles.

If I were to design UI, I'd design it like how aviation does cockpits. Functional, not "trendy". Everything has a reason - if you can't explain "WHY", you shouldn't be designing UI. Personal taste, subjective opinions, "I kinda like it that way" doesn't work in aviation industry. Please don't take it as I mean Apple to follow the same principles, I am just mentioning the other end of the spectrum in UI design to provide contrast.

> If I were to design UI, I'd design it like how aviation does cockpits.

You seem to not understand the difference between designing UI for professional use where a user has to spend countless hours learning where each button is compared to an app for general population where users have to figure things out on their own.

Try to put an average joe into a jet cockpit, he would not understand a single thing, and he should NOT. You have to emphasize the most used features and elements with bigger font or negative white space in order for people to better understand where they should start and then walk their way into deeper understanding. In a fighter jet cockpit most of the buttons have identical look and it’s impossible to get started without reading a manual.

You indeed make very good points. I was hesitant to making the cockpit analogy but I did say that this NOT how Apple should design their UI. I was merely pointing out the other end of the spectrum in UI design space.

Everything you’re saying is absolutely true. UI design for masses is different than for a fighter pilot. I think Apple Music app is one of the worst even considering for the masses. Just look at their competitor - Spotify and learn from how they’ve designed for the masses. Apple Music arguably fails at meeting the basic UI expectations from a company, ironically, that values design immensely.

I’m not a designer but I’ve thought a lot about this just cuz I find it interesting from a data organization POV and I like music. I think Apple deserves some credit in terms of this. Music.app is no iTunes but ask Siri who plays the drums and her answer is great. It’s bad at the difference between Studio Album and album of 1 song/remixes etc. if you have an idea how you’d like it laid out I would be interested to see.

>Everything has a reason - if you can't explain "WHY", you shouldn't be designing UI .

oh UI design in such an app always has a why

Before doing any modification on the UI of such an app, a lot of attention is given to user data.

It can't be completely objective because at the end of the day any interpretation of user data is at least a bit subjective (and generally way more than that). It does aim at being data driven though.

How does one prevent data-driven design from becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy?

You don't :/

Again at some point there is a part of subjectivity in how you analyze the dataset.

It is still better than having no idea what your users are doing with your product.

A/B testing with groups of random people put together in a room, using unreleased versions of the application.

Then do it! I’d be super interested to see what you come up with. Even if it’s drawn on paper.

At the risk of being downvoted into oblivion for going off on a tangent... since you mentioned the iPhone settings menu:

Why is it that in some places there is a setting with a off/on toggle on the right, and in other places there is a setting that takes you to a sub-page with only a off/on toggle? For a current example, the Handoff menu under General.

While I agree they generally do a better than average job with UI, I've never really understood why the settings app has this inconsistency. It's been this way for many versions.

Rant over. Though not really a rant anyway, it doesn't make me mad, just puzzled.

Probably because those pages with just a single toggle requires more explanation about what the toggle does, and thus the explanation doesn't really fit with other settings.

Also, just like how it's easier to add a modal than integrate more state into the underlying view, it's easier to add a new view controller to your xcode storyboard for an interaction.

For example, as you note, you have space to describe it and add possibly more UI to the feature. And in a future pass, you can decide to fold it back in to the existing UI and solidify it there. But that pass isn't necessarily worth it.

my theory is that more stuff was planned and/or is on the way, or... some features might be availablr only in certain areas or hardware combos. some menus you see might have multiple options for some other variants; for your device, it's just the one.

Where do you think Spotify's mobile app falls in this landscape? I would argue it is a great balance between new user needs (the Home and Discover areas), with most power user needs in the playlist/search/playback portions.

It isn't perfect, but it actually feels like an app designed to be used to play back music. Apple Music feels like a big, clunky, advertisement.

I would say it is pretty standard.

There is usually some degree of uniformity in streaming apps :

- all the services tend to get the same deals from the majors. Let's say service x gets terms A, service y will push to have the same A.

- they all solve the same problem .

Personally, I am not a big fan of spotify's UI :

- I despise Blur, it is the autotune of design and Spotify uses it a lot.

- As much as I like an app that is easier on my eyes without all these white areas everywhere, spotify is way too dark for my taste .

- it is surprisingly unpolished for such a big mobile team. To be fair a lot of the complexity is self imposed and comes from the fact that the UI is rendered based on the configuration sent by the server (display 3 columns of artists, etc)

Spotify does shine on the playback tech though. ogg vorbis, loudness equalization, etc they are on top of their game here.

The really big thing missing in the spotify mobile client, is being able to see the whole title of songs/albums when looking through a playlist.

Another thing that's missing from the Spotify app is the ability to play a whole playlist folder, not just individual playlists.

> Here is the dirty little secret of the music streaming industry : how to present all this in a way that allows random users (not geeks) to efficiently interact with the app : nobody knows how to do that :/

I said it before and I'll say it again: Rdio knew. In my opinion the best streaming service for music enthusiasts and casual listeners alike.

One of my pet projects was 'emoticon select' where it would analyse the users face and play a song relating to how they feel. No playlists needed.

I concur. One big pain point is how small the buttons are to change songs. I'm usually driving when listening to Apple music and would love it if I had huge buttons or could go vertical for driving model which made it dead simple. Nope, let's make it hard so my eyes go off the road.

This and it also seems like Apple has given up on a lot of their playlists. Adding one song per week doesn't count as updated playlist. For how many billions they generate, you'd think you could just have an army of people making amazing playlists.

Wouldn’t getting back to the lock screen (slide from the top) solve your issue ?

That’s super fast and you can almost blindly hit the buttons. For most audio app it’s a better control scheme than the in-app smallish buttons you struggle with.

I actually disagree that Apple should make it easier for you to physically use your phone whilst driving. If you need to change songs use Siri or better yet pull over.

And I also disagree that saying that Apple has given up on their "playlists" or that they are stagnant in content. There are many playlists within Apple Music: the auto generated ones e.g. Chill Mix which are refreshed once a week, the Beats1/Guest ones which are refreshed very often e.g. a few times a day and the ones littered through Browse which again are often updated once a week.

Which "playlists" are you referring to ?

> I actually disagree that Apple should make it easier for you to physically use your phone whilst driving.

My college banned smoking on campus halfway through my studies. They removed every ashtray from campus. This lead to people littering cigarette butts everywhere.

There's actually still ash tray in airplane toilets for that reason. I think it's legally required for airplanes flying through the US to have ashtray in toilets although it's illegal to smoke in these same airplanes ^^

Arguing with a robot over spelling seems like it would be more distracting than hitting a button.

> Arguing with a robot over spelling seems like it would be more distracting than hitting a button.

The discussion preceding this comment is about navigational buttons, not selecting songs from a playlist. Siri will not argue with you when you simply request the “next song”.

> Okay, texting "Song"

> And I also disagree that saying that Apple has given up on their "playlists"

They don't update any of their playlists that often. For instance, their "new music" playlist gets updated once every week. TripleJ, the local ad-free radio station in Australia, updates their new-music playlist every day. There's so much (western) music being released throughout the world that I find it unfathomable that it takes Apple a week to filter out 25 songs.

I was with Google Music and they would have a new playlist (new music or otherwise) catered to my taste every morning.

Having the New Music playlist change every day sounds like a terrible idea. Personally I am not going through 25 new singles every day so I like having the time to appreciate what has been chosen.

If you want completely new music then look at the Radio section. They have full, hand-picked playlists which update at minimum 3x a day.

I love the Apple Music UI.

I'm genuinely surprised at all the disdain for it here. Coming at least from Spotify's scattershot mobile UI, Apple Music is straightforward, consistent, and, critically, performant (Spotify is the slowest-loading, non-game app on my phone).

Certainly there are gaps, particularly when it comes to sorting. But all this about bold fonts and button sizes seems to stem more from an expectation that a music app should be a dense, text-focused experience like iOS's email app than from any fundamental design issue. Given Apple Music's focus on album art as the primary identifier for recordings, the UI has an appropriate information density - one can argue that's the wrong priority, but if you accept that premise, the UI supports it well.

Album art is the wrong focus if you listen to classical music, at least.

I'm of the mind that all the good UI concepts for touch screen smartphones have been done. Combine this with change for changes sake and it's easy for me to believe we've passed Peak UI and are on the down the other side of the bell curve.

I think we should demand a 12 month moratorium on UI changes across all operating system user interfaces and focus on stability and speed.

> Can someone shed some light?

Touch interfaces are exasperated by Fitt's Law. This is actually good design.

I am honestly confused what you are talking about.

Looking at Apple Music right now I see no bold fonts except for say Library and Artists which only appear on those main screens. The negative space you talk about is largely a result of them making the thumbnails large (on list view) and because otherwise the screen would be cluttered (on now playing view).

Personally I think it's clean and pretty well designed and a lot better than the alternatives.

Please find the marked wasted space at the screenshot below (Yellow markup): https://i.imgur.com/EKJ4VHJ.jpg

1. Is it really necessary to say “Apple Music” on top!? We know it’s Apple Music. Also "Get all the music you want" tag line is unnecessary.

2. Huge amounts of wasted space above “Browse”.

3. Space on the right of “Browse”

4. If the category/genes string length is small, why take up the entire bottom half of the screen?

5. Row spacing is excessively large

I understand that white space has a tremendous value in design especially when you have screen real estate and valid reasons. On a phone, I want maximal density of information so I don’t have to go into a hierarchy try while I need to quickly do something. Flatter UI hierarchy is preferred over deeper obfuscation of branches.

There is so much I could say. In fact, I might write a blog post explaining why Apple Music’s UI is one of the worst of any App I have ever used. I will explain and provide mock ups of the design.

1. It says Apple Music since you haven't paid for a subscription.

2. Mostly because of 1. But the rest is because when you scroll that white space changes to show the title.

3. This is to be consistent with the other sections.

4. This is a standard list view used across all of iOS. What exactly are you expecting Apple to do here ?

5. This might be to do with your phone or font size. The white spacing isn't that large on iPhone X.

By all means write a blog but my suggestion would be to buy the app first just so you have the proper experience. And then appreciate that Apple designs their phones for a very broad audience i.e. think grandparents. Maximal density of information is not something most people want.

When I saw your complaint #4, I imagined you'd love Japanese web/software design https://info.moravia.com/blog/why-japanese-web-design-is-sti...

Thank you so much. This is one of the most insightful articles I’ve ever read on Japanese design! I frequently visit Japan and absolutely admire their sense of aesthetics.

In return :-), I would like to offer the most crazy, cutting edge, next gen movement in design today: Resurgence of Brutalism http://www.brutalistwebsites.com

   > 2. Huge amounts of wasted space above “Browse”.
Let me quote Vignelli canon:

  > Ultimately the most important device is the
  > management of the white space in the layouts.
  > It is the white space that makes the layout sing.
  > Bad layouts have no space left for breathing - every
  > little space covered by a cacophony of type-sizes,
  > images, and screaming titles.
This may or may not apply to the Apple Music UI, but stuffing up any space with stuff will not make a design better for sure.

May be I didn’t convey the message right. I’ve already mentioned the value of negative space. I understand what negative space is and why it can be judiciously used to benefit layout composition.

Apple Music uses way too much to the point where it is frustrating to use it.

I am not saying we should make Apps that look like excel spreadsheets. I kind of find it condescending when people provide advise without understanding the argument.

Please do, that would be an enlightening read!

I would enjoy reading such a blog post.

White space isn’t ‘wasted.’

Why Apple who has driven UX throughout the industry gives two craps about UX in Apple MUsic is baffling.

There’s so many times I want to do something like play all songs under recently added or even one song without having to go to another screen. Also you ask Siri hey play songs similar to this one and she will but why the hell does Apple Music create a playlist I have to clear before going to play something else outside of that stupid playlist I didnt ask it to create? I just said play songs similar to this. So may terrible UX examples.

I only subscribe still because Of Apple Music and Siri integration for when driving.

Also music discovery is crap.. I just want it to randomly play new songs similar to a playlist I’m listening to and do so randomly/surprise me. Nope doesn’t do that and this I now subscribe to YouTube red for discovery and it rocks as I listen at work and home on my computers. Not safe to use Red while driving :-(

> It's utterly beyond me how the largest tech company in the world can't sort basics of their their UI out, over periods of years.

The same way the App Store on Apple TV still doesn't have an "Updates" tab with updates available for the apps one has installed. The only way to do this is to go to each app's page and see if there are updates available. It has been this way since the fourth generation of Apple TV with the App Store was released about two and a half years ago!

I've been repeating this a few times — Apple and its leadership ought to be deeply ashamed about such things, but never seems to be and doesn't show that it cares either. What ever happened to user experience being a distinguishing factor on Apple products???

I haven't used Apple music, but I feel Spotify also falls down in the UI. There seem to be plenty of pitfalls where the best of both worlds could be provided, yet aren't.

Basics like, why only show the top 5 popular songs from an artist? with no option to "view all songs based on popularity"

If I can't recall a song name from an artist, I then need to start going through individual albums to find it... Or if I've over played the top 5 songs, and just quickly want to throw something from say, the top 20. No dice.

Alternatively, if I go into "my library" and select an artist, I now see ONLY those songs I've saved. With no option to view the rest of what they have to offer. Likewise for an album (only songs I've saved on that album).

And WHY can't I scroll backwards through the songs I've most recently played WITHOUT changing the current song? Seriously? Has a spotify staff member never been in a situation where their friend has asked, "hey what was that song two songs ago?"

These seems like pretty basic UI navigation options that should be easy to access.

The Spotify interface relies heavily on the “...” option. This menu always provides the option to go to album, artist, like the track, and share.

This suboptimal in one major way, which is that this three dot link is hard to target!

Funny that you mention "sort music by year". In Spotify, if I start a radio-station of e.g. a Sade song, it comes up with music from the same era (80s music mostly), but that's not what I want; I want music in the same style!

Yeah I'd agree on that. I mean though if you are trawling an artists catalogue. In that case I think it's reasonable to want to listen to a discography in the order that they were released, once you've decided that you want to get to know an artist properly.

> syncing your own music to a device actually worked without issues

I've used iTunes for many years and how exactly this works is still a mystery to me.

I find the Music app unbearable. It feels like a webview app, or ported from Android; definitely not optimized for the iPhone. It feels like it was designed by committee, like something that came from Microsoft or Nokia 10 years ago.

Sometimes I feel like there must be something wrong with how I think about music, because I like a lot of what Apple comes up with, but the Music app I cannot stand. Surely it cannot be that bad, and I should just adjust? Then I actually use the Music app for a bit, and I'm again convinced that I'm not crazy.

The app is confusing and hard to navigate, but somehow still manages to miss so many features I'd look for in a music app—I don't even want to start listing everything I don't like.

I, for one, will certainly not be getting an Apple Music subscription until they come up with a music app that actually makes sense. It is making me listen to less music. And I love music.

Definitely agree with regards to showing albums by year and filtering for just studio/live/whatever. On the other hand, I find it quite easy to play albums straight through.

Yeah that is easy, it works. I should have been more specific. On the iPhone, local albums, If I stop the music and perhaps don't get to start again for a couple of days (like on a weekend, coming back on Monday), when I hit play again, it doesn't start where I left off. It does starts on shuffle.

Interestingly, I've noticed the shuffle produces exactly the same result every time too.

Playing an album straight though steps on desktop ui: 1. Type album name is search bar 2. Select "search _album name_ in albums" 3. Hover mouse of album art 4. Press play button.

It seems very reasonable.

> their app misses some basics that people who actually love music might like to have

I think I enjoy music and have never wanted any of the things you listed.

it sounds like you only enjoy it, not love it :P

if you look at Spotify, you find they have all these features that music lovers would use, even though they may not be the majority class of users. This feels to me like Apple is marketing themselves as what Spotify is (the leading competitor in this space), but their product development falls short of their marketing.

> it sounds like you only enjoy it, not love it :P

God, how arrogant. It's one thing to be opinionated about music, it's another to judge another's enjoyment. Talk about making music something miserable to share with others.

Personally, the spotify client is a piece of shit for me--buggy, slow, and it can't sync any music not in its library. Somehow spotify's marketing manages to leave that out, and Apple Music is a much better option for me. Clearly you don't really love music if you're limited to Spotify's catalogue. ;)

> God, how arrogant. It's one thing to be opinionated about music, it's another to judge another's enjoyment

It was meant in jest

It's not even that arrogant imo. People who regard themselves as serious about music will smirk and nod in agreement.

Well of course you wouldn't consider it, it was your arrogance that started this thread. Why would you see a flaw with your own worldview? That would be uncomfortable!

Who are you to define the love of music? No better than Apple.

Y'know, I'm quite comfortable with being told about flaws in my worldview. You just haven't not provided any so far. - But clearly you have something to say about it, I'd like to hear it.

Here's a starter: I don't think taste is subjective and those that do believe it is just haven't developed any (yet). There is no shame in that, the shame should be not wanting to extend yourself.

I'm not saying everybody has to have the same taste, clearly everyone can enjoy different things. But there is a clear difference between having taste (of some sort) and not having any. Ask any designer, visual artist, musician, or apparently, Linus Torvalds.

This is btw not meant to disparage the great-grandfather comment about enjoying music at all, it's started this discussion, but is not related to it.

> if you look at Spotify, you find they have all these features that music lovers would use

Likewise when I look at Apple Music I find all these features that music lovers would use.

I guess neither of us speaks for "music lovers".

Beats1 is incredible for music discovery and has no peer on Spotify for example.

I have only used Spotify. What are some of the features that music lovers would use in Apple Music? What is Beats1?

“Hey Siri, play me the first Miles Davis album.”

“Hey Siri, play the top song from 1987.”

“Hey Siri, play some Delta Blues.”

“Hey Siri, who’s the guitarist on this song?”

“Hey Siri, play some sad music”

“Hey Siri, play something I might like.”

“Hey Siri, play John Williams radio.”

“Hey Siri, what album is this from?”

And with HomePod, it also sounds great.

> it sounds like you only enjoy it, not love it :P

> their product development falls short of their marketing

There's a difference between Apple saying "We love music" and saying "We make software for people who love music".

Apple's entire business is built around restricting choice and features.

In their minds, they have taste and know best for the users they want. Apple makes the rules, users play by them or choose to go somewhere else.

Overall, you can't say it doesn't work for them.

well.. his suggestion would probably be poor for classic music.

If you want to experience the intense usability and customer focus of Apple, try the keyboard on Apple TV. Blows the competition out.

This entire thread is why I still go through the trouble of downloading MP3 files and using a standalone music player.

The thing that baffles me is that now if you're listening to a playlist and you tap the album/song it takes you back to the playlist its playing in, not the album itself. it takes like 3 more taps just to get to the actual album

Can you see releases by music label?

That would be game changing for me. Spotify doesn't have this.

It's actually possible to search for labels on Spotify. Just type: label:[LABEL] (with spaces you have to use quotation marks, i.e. label:"Smalltown Supersound"). A shame that it's not implementet better... when they obviously have the data for it.

Wow, thanks for this. This is game changing.

I've heard at least 4 people convey similar emotions towards Apple Music's UI.

One of my friends dislikes to UI so much that he uses the app only through Shazam.

> It's utterly beyond me how the largest tech company in the world can't sort basics of their their UI out, over periods of years.

It might be what the demographic they are target likes, which probably isn't audiophiles. "Yes, let's target 1% of the population instead of 50%."

People also often claim they "love music." Turns out many of them just want to turn a fob and have the top hits continuously fed into them without effort on their part.

iTunes and Apple Music is garbage. I'm tempted to write my own music player with big buttons that I can press while driving, without all the bullshit. It's incredible how dumb they are about this.

> ... can't sort basics of their their UI out ...

Consumer lock in && feature bias to minimize UI complexity && tradition of maintaining long standing bugs...

So basically, XXXXX XXXX as in Don’t care.

A bit OT, but does anyone have insight into why Spotify has refused to make an Apple Watch app for offline playback like Apple Music offers? This is definitely possible as a lone developer was able to do it rather quickly a while ago (search: Spotty later renamed Snowy). That developer was eventually hired by Spotify and the project was scrapped. Spotify's new iOS SDK specifically says it's not to be used to create apps for offline play.

It seems to be a major pain point for Apple Watch users that's easily addressed. It's really confusing why they haven't done it yet.

I suspect it's less Spotify's unwillingness but instead structural difficulties on the Apple Watch platform. Maybe Apple isn't interested in allowing a competitor...

As a point of evidence, Marco Arment's podcast app had to remove Apple Watch support after the approach he had used was eliminated[1-2].

1. https://marco.org/2017/09/24/what-watch-podcast-apps-need

2. https://marco.org/2017/08/10/removed-send-to-watch

That makes complete sense based on my personal use. I have a Music subscription purely because I can use it with my series 2 watch offline. I use Spotify the rest of the day. If Spotify had a watch app where I could download songs offline, I'd drop my Music subscription immediately.

I am curious... what would be the benefit of offline music in a watch? AFAIK you can play downloaded songs in the smartphone with Spotify while offline

You could go for a run with just your watch and a pair of bluetooth headphones...

The Series 3 with LTE is even better for runners than the Series 2 offers.

Many stores and vending machines accept Apple Pay if emergency food/water/medicine is required on the run. You can also make phone calls or hail an uber/lyft in case you twist your ankle or another a different minor injury while running.

The combination of offline music on the Apple Watch plus AirPods is the first thing that's improved on the experience of the clip-on iPod Shuffle and headphones. Despite some UI lag issues it's basically running nirvana.

You can listen to music while you exercise without having to take your phone.

As all of the other posters mentioned - it's exercising without carrying around a phone.

>Maybe Apple isn't interested in allowing a competitor...

Wouldn't be the first time Apple has done this

iOS, Apple Watch, HomePod, Apple TV all have limitations that prevent competitors to imitate or improve on the Apple Music experience. The lack of Spotify support is the reason I didn't buy an Homepod when I was in the market for a speaker system for my office though, so I'm not sure if it's working for them.

I wonder whether they could chunk up an audio file and play the chunks sequentially to get more control of the playback.

While I don't work for Spotify and can't say for sure, reports from other third-party developers are that the background audio APIs on Apple Watch are pretty badly broken right now. For example, see Marco Arment's experience with Overcast standalone playback: https://marco.org/2017/08/10/removed-send-to-watch

I tried apple music only because of this. And really tried making it understand what music I like by copying the discovery playlist from Spotify and actively liking and disliking songs for months. But it's really useless in comparison. Also podcasts are missing, weird that it's taking so long

Spotify’s offline mode in the app is already quite crappy. I get so frustrated everytime I get the “you are not connected to the internet” (or similar) message. Well, if the app can detect that, why does it not automatically fallback into offline mode? That’s exactly what I want, eg when I’m sitting on a plane with no reception. I don’t get it

No idea, but Spotify doesn't support offline music on Android Wear either, something that Google Play Music has had for years.

Spotify does support offline music on Samsung Gear G3 though, maybe Samsung was willing to pay for the privilege.

The developers I know who have removed their Apple Watch support have done so simply because there are just so few users that it's a poor investment of development time. I don't know if all those sold Apple Watches are sitting in drawers or being used as pure fitness trackers or what, but people just aren't using apps.

Possibly DRM requirement to comply with promises Spotify has made to labels.

I returned my watch because of this.

I very recently came across Apple music and it has given me the best music experience on Android, as in my country, India, Spotify is not available yet and other competing apps are nowhere close to what apple provides. Amazing music quality, availability of almost every song I listen to, very nice UI and an equalizer.

Also, one of the reasons is the very cheap subscription for university students and the 3 months free trial. Unbeatable, yet.

Amazon Prime Music is pretty good too, and is free with Prime membership, which is 3/4 the price you pay for Apple Music alone. I also liked Wynk app in India.

The only reason I'm not jumping ship to Amazon's offering is Apple's tight integration with my watch and Apple TV. This will only get stronger with HomePod.

The audio quality is subpar on amazon music. I could hear it lightly distorting which is weird. Hopefully just a player bug and not an audio file issue.

I just wish it worked with Android Auto. Otherwise I'd probably still be subscribed to Apple Music rather than Spotify

I tried Anndroid Auto app multiple times on my Android phone. One thing I don't like is not able to change route preference from within the app such as Avoiding Tolls etc. Because of that I always have to come back to Google Maps app.

I agree with you. Also, you can find more Indian music in AM than in Spotify

FYI you can get a Tidal subscription for like $5 for 6 months on the secondary market easily. Once it runs out, you can just buy a new one. It is a good solution for people on a tight budget.

Google music is cheaper in India. And matches the songs available.

Apple Music is a bit rough around the edges in ways that are shifting me back towards keeping my collection offline

- they deleted a bunch of my personal stuff when I subscribed (I’m sure it was somewhere in the T&Cs but ... come on)

- albums and songs appear, disappear and generally get shuffled around a LOT

- they periodically purge my “offline” music on my phone. Usually I only notice this when I have just crossed the border on an international trip. It’s not just some unused stuff because I have no space free (I have PLENTY) - it’s everything

It’s a really frustrating experience, which is Sady increasingly common with Apple these last few years

last year i went through all my playlists on spotify and counted maybe 30 greyed out tracks that were removed at some point in the last 8 years that ive been using it. not cool

up to that point i was generally happy enough paying for streaming but im slowly starting to move back to offline storage now and plan on just using spotify to discover new music every now and again. ive given over 700 to spotify over the years which seems crazy now and ive recently spent around the same amount on a synology nas to store my music library, but at least the tracks i own wont suddenly disappear

That's not really the fault of Spotify though, that's a rights holders problem. They've added far more songs than they've removed.

"ive recently spent around the same amount on a synology nas to store my music library, but at least the tracks i own wont suddenly disappear"

I would think twice about that.

I, also, have all of my music on a local fileserver and I would never consider giving iTunes or an iDevice access to that share unless it was mounted read-only.

When I sync my music library (which is made up of files and directories, not "songs and albums") to my laptop, I rsync it over from the filesystem which is mounted read-only.

I don't need my mac to "discover" "music files" on the network and start "helping me" organize them.

You must be great fun at parties. You make music sound about as fun as getting circumcised.

This is an inherent risk of using streaming services. Nothing exclusive to spotify.

ah yea, replace "spotify" with streaming services. i just mentioned spotify because its what im using at the moment

My biggest complaint is that albums I have added will occasionally be split, with one or two songs becoming the versions from a “best of” album, leaving two separate albums in my library. This randomly happens to 2-3 albums a month, and my only notification that anything changed is that some random album, often a compilation, shows up in my collection, or I am listening to the album and the songs do not a show up and are skipped.

It is absolutely infuriating that it fails at even keeping track of the songs you have added to your library. That should be one of the most basic features possible.

Back in the day I used to look at the Top 10 list on what.cd, download torrents of interesting music, add them to my seedbox, wait for them to finish, download the files from the seedbox, import into iTunes, fix up the tags and artwork if needed, then finally sync to my phone. Then I'd have to do all that again for my girlfriend and the terrible music she liked.

Now I just have to hit one download button in Music on my phone. I have unlimited access to--as far as it matters to me--basically the entire iTunes libary. My wife does too, and she can play it through the Sonos system at the house. It's great and well worth the $15/month and various UI glitches.

Agreed on most of your points. Except that Spotify has he same functionality plus awesome curation and discovery. If you're not that into top music, there are gems to be found

I know it's a silly grudge to hold, but I still avoid Spotify just because the Free tier was so awful when I first tried it. I suppose it's the classic debate of time-limited demo versus feature-limited demo -- the former works much better for me.

The free tier is extremely limited, basically a shuffle-only radio with ads and a limited amount skips allowed in the app.

The paid version is awesome, though.

I remember when I started using Spotify it had one of the most awful desktop clients I've ever seen

Spotify doesn't have the geographical reach (across countries) that Apple Music has. That's a disadvantage for Spotify.

If you're referring to India, judging by their new offices, Spotify plans to open next year.

According to Spotify's list of countries, [1] it's available in 73 countries. Apple Music is available in about 115 countries according to Apple's list. [2] In this comparison, there are many prominent names missing in Spotify's list, not just India.

As for Spotify opening in India next year (2019), that's already quite late to the game, in my view.

[1]: https://www.spotify.com/int/select-your-country/

[2]: https://support.apple.com/en-in/HT204956

man i really really dont miss any of that.

the only good thing that came from it was that i got better at typing (this was before there was software that would download the track names from the internet and you would have to manually type in each track name)

I don't understand how Apple isn't facing intense antitrust lawsuits. Compared to Microsoft in the 90s, Apple is far worse in the ways that it unfairly competes:

* any competitor has to pay a portion of its revenue for every sale to Apple

* apps cannot use private APIs that would otherwise greatly enhance usability and value

* little to no integration with built in services; for example, I can't tell Siri "play the Beatles on Spotify"

I would refuse to use Apple Music over Spotify because I feel that Apple is playing dirty. Luckily, I don't even think about using Apple Music because I feel it's an inferior product.

I keep this answer by Keith Rabois bookmarked for whenever this question pops up [1]:

>Simple answer: American antirust law is not a mandate to "play nice" with competitors and only governs a very small set of prohibited activities.

For the most part, a company can do whatever it wants so long as it acts unilaterally. As a result, Apple can do whatever it pleases, period, so long as it does not act in concert with another company.

The only exception to this rule is when a company has achieved "monopoly power" in a relevant market, which normally requires a market share (properly defined) of at least 60% and more close to 80%. Apple lacks such a market share in any market, Microsoft was believed to have that share in Operating Systems. (The only exception is an attempt to monopolize claim which would still require at least a market share of 40% to even state a claim. These claims have other elements that would be difficult to satisfy).

Finally, even if Apple had the requisite market share to state a non-frivolous claim, American law does not recognize harm to competitors as a legitimate concern, you must establish harm to consumers, which is almost always very challenging unless there is a good theory of how you are raising prices at a super-competitive level.

[1] https://www.quora.com/Why-was-Microsoft-punished-for-violati...

Android has 80+% of the global market in mobile operating systems.

MacOS has about 5% of the desktop.

MS have about 90% of the desktop.

Apple are very profitable but they only have a monopoly on their own products. It's more like Nintendo does on the Switch than MS in 1990.

You may not like Apple and some of their practices are inherently abhorrent but it is no where in the same league as MS of the 90s.

Today, if you want, you can instantly switch away from iOS to a plethora of options. Apple has the highest revenue and maybe the most influence in the industry but their numbers are paltry. Android has 80% share globally and 70% in US. When it came to MS, you didn't really have much of a choice.

Something akin to the MS anti trust case would be Google pushing Chrome exclusively on Android and shutting out all competitors.

And point two and three are trivial to argue.

2 - increased security is a great counter point. No publicly available apps could abuse private APIs to mine personal data

3 - No one's stopping you from using spotify. It's just not in the way you like.

But Apple DOES do this. Safari's integration is so tight with iOS that it's inconvenient to use anything else 100% of the time. They really aren't playing fair.

The article says Spotify has "nearly twice" the number of subscribers, so maybe that's why? (no snark intended, these numbers are new to me)

I feel like maybe these days such anticompetitive practices are just felt more strongly by consumers because subscription-based walled gardens (often involving locked hardware) are being pushed in seemingly every market where it even vaguely makes sense, from food and drink to professional software.

If apple had the same market dominance as Microsoft did in the 90s, they likely would be pegged for antitrust violations.

I signed up to play with it on a homepod, I generally still think it's a lot worse than Spotify (particularly when you consider Spotify's discover weekly playlist).

I'll likely just end up using the homepod as an overpriced Spotify airplay speaker.

There was an app to transfer playlists/songs from Spotify to Apple music (for $10). It did an okay job.

Why does Google Play Music never come up in any of these discussions? I've found Google's recommendation engine to be far beyond competitors. They also allow uploading your own library which no other service out there does. Plus, you get Youtube Red for free with GPM, which is great value. They have the same family plan, and 320kbps.

What is it lacking that no one ever considers it?

I pay for ad-free YouTube Red and got Google Play Music for free, IMO best value music subscription bundle available.

iTunes Match allows you to upload your own library and stream it from every device, for a yearly fee


> They also allow uploading your own library which no other service out there does.

Others have mentioned iTunes Match, but they haven't mentioned that Apple Music itself includes iTunes Match. So this claim is very much incorrect.

> Apple Music itself includes iTunes Match

Apple Music doesn't include iTunes Match, they're complementary: while Apple Music does perform matches like iTunes Match, iTunes Match gives you DRM-free AAC 256 as downloads while Apple Music matches are DRM-ized.

This means that if you use source files to match with Apple Music then delete the sources, you lost them, whereas with iTunes Match you would have sort of "converted" them.

You can see the difference by adding the "Kind" column in the "Songs" view of iTunes.

I've never used iTunes match, but it sounds like you are "matching" your music signature which music that is already on Apple Music. Can you upload brand new songs that are not on the system with it? This is a major reason why I went with GPM, a significant number of the music in my library was not on any streaming service, and back then, it was the only way to get those albums streamed for me.

Yup! It does try to match with stuff it already knows, but things which aren't on the service it'll upload.

When I tried it for the free month, it was really unresponsive at times. The UI wasn't even that terrible, it was just it's responsiveness. One example being that it would hang almost every time I opened it while it was playing something, so I would have to wait 10 sec before I could do what I wanted to do. Spotify's, and even Apple Music's apps are much better, at least on iOS. It was cool that I was able to upload a lot of my video game music that isn't up for streaming anywhere, and YouTube Red was nice as I do watch a lot of YouTube content, but I had to leave because of the app.

Now I use Spotify for most of my music and GPM for uploaded stuff, because that part is actually free, surprisingly.

Having used Apple and Spotify I really like what Google is doing. They bought Songza a few years ago and their station recommended engine is so much better. You pick from moods, time of day, feelings, intensity, location, etc. Also Chromecast is much nicer to use than than Bluetooth based solutions.

lack of playlist folders is the main thing that made me move back to spotify. I was using Google music for a year or two and made maybe 80 or so playlist before it got to much to handle. I had way more playlists on spotify and I would have moved them over to Google if there was a way of organising them

most of the new music i find these days is on discover weekly so I don't have as much of a need to upload tracks. it is really odd that none of the other services have added that feature yet. talk about being behind! its been 7 years

another thing that bugged me about Google music is the albums and singles being mixed up and also the album view not showing the order by year. it seems to be just random.

but apart from that its pretty decent and it is odd that its not mentioned as much as the others

I'm not a heavy playlist user but I can understand the pain. Does Spotify allow nested playlist under folders? That's a pretty neat design.

The album listing is definitely a big issue. I don't mind EPs being mixed, but singles should really be separated.

I'm curious to see how the merge with Youtube Music goes and if that leads to better UI.

I use apple match (not apple music), which allows uploads of your own music to play anywhere.

I'm not sure why google doesn't get much mention, neither does napster (formally rhapsody) which a friend uses and likes. or amazon music for that matter..

> They also allow uploading your own library which no other service out there does.

For the overwhelming majority of customers this is a non-feature.

Consider anyone under the age of say 20-25 today. How many will ever have a "real" mp3?

Personally, this is exactly why Google Play is the only option for me. I would gladly move back to Spotify should they offer that feature.

Spotify has (or had, I haven't used it in years) a similar feature called Local Files. You have to be on the same network as the computer to sync the files, and there's little metadata on them, but you should still be able to comingle local and Spotify music. It's not quite the same, but it's something.

It's definitely nowhere near the same. My music is at home, and the whole reason started using a music subscription is exactly to listen to it at work or at the gym. If I was home, there are dozens of free services that stream your music locally.

It's pretty close. If you use the download feature on a playlist that contains local files while in the same network, the file is copied to the device. So you'd have it at the gym or at work, you just need to make sure you've downloaded it to the device first.

It's basically music upload without the upload (and therefore always-available nature).

Great! But you can understand that you’re in a tiny minority and why Spotify won’t/shouldn’t add this feature, right?

That's fair, but it's still not a negative. I'm curious what it lacks that makes everyone go towards other services. My point is that it has everything, and more.

Poor branding. Music is cool and fun. Spotify and Apple are cool and fun. Google is utilitarian.

Also, adding features that don't add value (e.g. upload files) isn't a positive.

Funny. The upload feature is THE reason I use Google Music. I can upload my library of independent Brazilian music that isn't in any catalog.

I pay for YouTube red and I still use Spotify. Originally it was because I didn’t like google music’s UI and they didn’t have native applications.

I’m not sure if it’s improved since then.

> I've found Google's recommendation engine to be far beyond competitors.

I've compared all, and no service comes close to Spotify's discovery engine.

I've curious, when was that? I know that Google's engine has improved quite a bit over the years. Considering it's 7 years old, I'm sure it has changed quite a bit since the early days.

I agree. For my tastes (hard rock and metal, mostly out of the mainstream), the automatic playlists have been absolutely stellar.


I've never used Spotify, but what is the "weekly playlist"? Because Apple Music offers me three weekly playlists, "Favorites", "New Music", and (for some reason) "Chill".

They seem pretty good, with regards to matching my music tastes.

He's speaking of the "Discover Weekly" playlist. I won't claim to understand Spotify's algorithms, but it basically curates music that you may not have ever heard before but matches your interests. When I used to use Spotify it was incredibly accurate, so much so that I'd duplicate most Discover Weekly playlist week's as a new playlist because it just flowed so well with what I liked, despite being probably 80% new music I'd never heard before.

AM has nothing like it, and I say that after using AM for about a year or a little longer now.

It's the one thing I really miss about Spotify. When I got into work on Monday, I'd just fire up the weekly playlist, and it would always have enough new content I liked to keep my playlists fresh for the week.

Discover Weekly is like the page rank of playlist recommendations.

I think it works by looking at songs you have in your playlists and then finding playlists of other users that have those songs. From there it’ll make a playlist for you using songs those other users have in their playlist that you don’t have in yours.

Rather than trying to do some matching based on song properties it abstracts the hard part to humans.

It works extremely well and it refreshes every week.

Spotify also has all the generic playlists that Apple has too.

I also find Spotify’s UI to just work better especially between devices.

What is spotify’s Discovery weekly playlist? Apple has a weekly, personalized New Music Mix every Friday. They also have “see what friends are listening to” as well as human curated playlists. I have found all the music apps to be lacking but Apple Music really needs to work on the app, it is a pain to navigate on many levels.

This article goes into some detail on how Discover Weekly works and why it's pretty awesome:


Awesome, thank you! I have heard a lot about it but don’t really understand the hype.

Just to add to the praise for Spotify's discovery mechanism, here is my little story.

I was recently offered another trial of AM, and decided to give it another go. Now, I have Apple Music Match, the thing where the music I put into iTunes basically gets put up into the cloud and is available everywhere. The point is, Apple has a list of what music I enjoy, as well as existing play lists, and what I've been listening to recently.

So, I expect their recommendations to be somewhat good. Maybe not as good as Spotify, as I use them more frequently. But, and this is a big but, 1) Apple can easily get access to my Spotify history I imagine by having me give them permission to access it, and 2) they still have access to my existing music library.

So, when their personalized Music mix played crap I absolutely hated, and then the next few songs were just so far out of left-field that I had to stop... well, let's just say I hated it.

I decided to see what Spotify had in store for me in my Daily Mixes. And the first song was perfect and I just loved listening to it (it was Dirty Paws by Of Monsters and Men, btw).

Couple this with Siri not understanding me asking it to play the Beatles (I have all their albums loaded into Match), it's just not worth the frustration.

One other thing I like is the Shared Playlists. I can find other people's public playlists, and basically subscribe to them. Other people discover music for me. This has lead me to buying new albums (usually I can find albums on Amazon for cheaper than iTunes, and I get a CD), which I can rip and put into iTunes where Match takes over. It's even better when Amazon's AutoRip is available for the CD. I get cheaper digital music then Apple along with an actual CD, which I like for music.

The New Music Mix playlist isn't nearly as good as Spotify's Discover Weekly, unfortunately. Wish they could figure something else out. Most of the time it's music I've already heard before, including songs I never listen to and from genres I never listen to.

On a slightly tangential note, how do you like the Homepod?

It’s okay - I’d probably say not worth the cost, but if you’re buying it as a toy it’s fine.

Siri is bad - can’t tell me calendar information. When I say “play kqed fm” she fails because I didn’t say “play kqed”.

When I ask her what podcasts I have she can’t do it - if I name a specific podcast it’ll work.

She’s bad at pretty basic stuff and it’s irritating to use as a result.

I'm not the OP commenter, but uh, I've had a Homepod since launch, and am quite pleased with the device. It has incredible sound quality, but Siri is seriously lacking. If the sound quality wasn't as good as it is, I wouldn't have kept it. I have been using Apple Music since launch, so the fact that it's locked down to Apple Music didn't cause me any concern.

I don’t suppose it’s as good as an 8” studio monitor? Who know what’s possible today.

Probably not, I have a pair of Mackie CR4s in my office that sound a bit better, and are significantly louder. The highest volume on the Homepod is a little quieter than I would have expected. I got the Homepod as a replacement for the Bluetooth speaker I used in my bedroom and bathroom and I think it does a great job at that...

HomePod setup was annoyingly buggy when I tried to do it last week. Got a generic “6699” error which Apple support docs said I needed to install Home and Music apps. Did that and got a new error. Apple docs literally said to wait “30 mins” on Home app for a mode to reset configuration. Documented screenshots @reaganbwilliams on twitter. Returned the device this morning.

Get a Google Home or Amazon Echo instead.

The only reason I'm an Apple Music subscriber is because I'm on a family member's plan. There are so many usability problems with it on iOS that I would not consider paying for it myself — and iTunes is another level of terrible.

I often times have trouble getting Apple Music to playback reliably! https://imgur.com/a/VrO1Y

Spotify's UX is marginally better than Apple Music, but still not worth paying for in my opinion. Neither service allows me to block particular songs/artists from being recommended, which I find incredibly frustrating.

You can "dislike" songs, albums & artists to influence recommendations.

What are the usability problems you're experiencing?

Apple Music seems to ignore what I dislike, and will recommend it anyway.

As for usability issues in Apple Music:

- There are 2 ways to "dislike": Star> Play less like this and Heart> Dislike. What is the difference?

- Liking/Disliking is always 2 actions.

- If I'm listening to the Radio, I can only skip forward but not go back? Why?

- There are a million pixels on my phone, yet I can only see 3 full playlists in the initial list view. The "New Playlist" button is displayed like an actual playlist.

- The layout is a hodgepodge of poor recommendations and recent activity: -- The library tab starts with a list, and ends with a grid of albums, most of which contain one song picked out from that album. The recents in "For you" scroll horizontally.

- The radio tab pretty much only consists of what Apple wants to push (Beats 1). There is also no way to delete recently played radio stations

- When playback stops, there is no difference between a network issue (Buffering) and a bluetooth connectivity issue. Incredibly frustrating when driving.

- The large album art display is nice visually, but it is not worth digging through a bunch of action menus that were created due to the lack of space.

>Apple Music seems to ignore what I dislike, and will recommend it anyway

Before I moved to Apple Music, Spotify had spent the past several years trying to get me to listen to Fleet Foxes, no matter how many times I asked them to stop.

Apple's got a lot of UI issues, which shouldn't actually be that hard for them to fix. Their playlists however are definitely not as good as Spotify's are.

I feel like AM also has a bias towards hiphop/rap it seems. If you look at new releases (which is pretty broken most of the time as it can go weeks without actually showing updates) it's all pretty much rap. Have to dig into genres just to see something different. Rdio did new releases right. Shame they're no longer a thing.

For me it's just search. It remembers none of my habits and assumes I want whatever is trending/popular in the autocomplete.

I search up quite a few artists that produce no autocomplete results, even though they exist.

I have artists I'd like to bookmark but not add to my Library of songs.

Search is really the only way I interact with the app. Stuff I've added to my library just sits because it orders by Recently Added instead of recently listened. I tend to stick to the same artist for a couple days, and there's no way to simply reorder.

If I switch to another audio playing app, such as Overcast, and the phone connects to my car, Apple Music decides to take over and plays some random fucking song I've downloaded. I have to open Overcast and make it play again. But whatever I was actually voluntarily listening to in Music before the phone connected to my car is now gone, and I have to look it up again.

Oh god where to begin? Apple Music is a disaster. I moved to AM from Spotify 2 months ago in anticipation of Homepod. It’s so incredibly bad.

Try it on CarPlay. It was designed by an evil genius to get in the way of what you want to do at every turn.

I never used Apple Music but having only 2 bars on some mobile phones can mean no reception at all (or only 2g) because they didn't update it yet (on purpose or not, I don't know)

Do any of the music services not suck at suggestions and or auto playlists?

I tried Spotify, Google Music, Amazon, Pandora and all of them drove me batty.

The most common problem is just bad selection. For example I picked "Daily Lift" on Spotify expecting uplifting songs. First song was about woman finding out man is cheating on her. Second song is about woman thinking of x while sleeping with new guy. Neither was remotely uplifting.

Another example, on Google Music I play Prince. Pick "related" and get rap. I have nothing against rap but it's not even remotely related to Prince except in maybe some possibbly racist way.

Pandora had the problem on playing the same songs and if you ban the songs you just end up getting different mixes of the same song.

Yet other issues is "more like this" never works. If I'm playing say a ballad and I pick "more like this" I expect more ballads but instead all the music services just give you songs by artists someone judged as popular with people who like the artist you're currently listing too so you might get dance or rock or rap or anything and not actually "more like this"

I've cancelled all of them as I didn't find them useful because of those issues.

To your first issue, there are three ways I can think of that music recommendations are usually built: - collaborative filtering: i.e. People who listened to x tend to listen to y, so if you like x we will recommend y - metadata: x and y share multiple genre tags, or have contributed to releases in common, or release music in the same time period, etc - audio data: x and y have similar tempo, prominent instrument timbres, absence or presence of vocals, time signature, major or minor-ness, key

However, I've never heard of lyrics being used as data or metadata for determining similarity of tracks.

For one thing, it's not necessarily a common use case. I did college radio and we would do themed shows where all the songs are about food, for example, but 99% of the time of I listen to a song that happens to mention ice cream, I don't want/need the next song to mention ice cream.

On top of that, it's not obvious what type of lyrical similarity is desired. Do you want to match lyrical sentiment? (Happy songs with happy songs, whether they're about girls or cars or cooking) Or theme (relationship songs, positive or negative) or words in common or phrases in common.

It's definitely an interesting idea that I'd love to see toyed with, but I'm not surprised that its not, given how much effort it might be for an unclear and possibly uncommonly desires result. Not to mention that Spotify usually doesn't have a canonical source for lyrics of a given track anyway.

Music streaming has relatively low gross margins compared to other tech businesses (though as they scale up they'll have more leverage with the rights holders) but a large addressable market to tap. Spotify could be a great investment if they continue to penetrate that market.

The same is true for Apple but at least for Apple it also has a strategic purpose in being the connective tissue for a number of hardware products that are almost certainly a better business (Apple Watch Series 3, HomePod, AirPods, iPhone, etc).

At what point does Spotify hit a breaking point with leverage against the major labels? Even their current scale, the surviving music industry oligopoly could probably still crush Spotify if it tried to do jumpstart a private label. In this current ecosystem, they seem to be in this awkward codependent relationship. Maybe the only way to gain real leverage is to develop an ecosystem without any labels at all.

Spotify and the music publishers are mutually dependent. They could crush them but they'd be torpedoing their own revenue.

>Even their current scale, the surviving music industry oligopoly could probably still crush Spotify if it tried to do jumpstart a private label.

Rather than pulling their catalogs from Spotify, it'd be smarter for them to cut better deals with Spotify's competitors so they can undercut Spotify. If the publishers have multiple, more or less equally sized number of buyers, that'd be the ideal scenario for them.

I was originally commenting on your statement from spotify's POV

> as they scale up they'll have more leverage with the rights holders

My comment was making the point that simply scaling Spotify does not solve their publisher/supplier costs because the publisher scales with Spotify.

Your response basically switched to the publisher's POV in talking about how publishers are incentivized to commoditize spotify's position in the market. (which is true, but not relevant here.)

I was just casually trying to imagine a scenario from Spotify's POV regarding how would they might gain leverage against publishers. IMO anything that involves labels seems like a fail.

Spotify's only path to success might be to offer some direct to consumer mechanism that eliminates the need of a label, even their own.

The labels have ownership in Spotify [1]. If any disruption comes from the aggregation of their own content, the labels will profit.

The labels will not pull the plug on Spotify as it represents too great a portion of future industry revenues.

You are correct about dealing with Spotify's competitors. Tidal and other streaming services are the labels best shot at reducing the leverage of any one player (Spotify or Apple).

[1] http://www.swedishwire.com/jobs/680-record-labels-part-owner...

I don't think having minority stakes in Spotify makes up for the alternative scenario where Spotify becomes the dominant music streamer and devalues their current music assets.

I can't think of anything the music industry would want to do less than start their own streaming services. The industry is built to let other people do that stuff, preferring to sit back and collect royalties.

There was a recent article and HN discussion on just this for Spotify:



I tried to switch to Spotify but came back to Apple Music after 1 day of using it.

I really liked the Spotify UI and their album list makes sense. But it does not offer any significantly different feature than made me chose it over Siri integration with Apple Music. Siri is frustrating at times but I can’t imagine not using it when I am in my car.

I’m very disappointed that Apple has not made it possible to integrate Spotify with Siri and don’t want to reward Apple for it--even though it’s something I value.

their "discover weekly" playlist is great but im not sure how well they work for new users. ive been using spotify for around 8 years so by the time they released discover weekly they probably had a good profile on me and it definitely showed. there have been times where maybe 15 or 20 out of the 30 tracks in the playlist have been ones that i liked and 5 or so out of that 20 have become favourites. thats been the general pattern for me anyway on a good week, others it might be less.

Discover Weekly was already pretty awesome for me after a month or so.

That's compelling -- I catch myself starting to ask Alexa to play a song while driving at least three times a week.

Spotify has a great recommendation algorithm, not as good as that from last.fm but it works very well for me.

And that is something that should be considered antitrust.

I am not sure you understand what antitrust actually means.

I know what it means today in current US law. I think that the law should be expanded.

Are there any good 3rd party apps for browsing Apple Music? I've been trying Apple Music for a couple of months, and I really like the fact that I can access this giant catalog, but I think the UI for browsing / discovery is not very good.

Any recommendations?

If there's one company I don't see releasing a public API to freely browse their catalog, it would be Apple (or Amazon).

There's MusicKit, which is exactly that: https://developer.apple.com/musickit/

Thanks for keeping me honest! Seems like this gives some decent access to Apple's library.

I was really happy when Apple Music launched, because I had a huge library on iTunes that I had been keeping meticulously for about half a decade then, and I was a spotify user - I thought I could consolidate the two.

Well Apple Music responded to my enthusiasm by trashing my music library, mislabeling everything automatically and losing half of the library. I don't know if they fixed that, but that managed to turn me to a permanent spotify user.

Spotify too is making me unhappy these days though, because for some time now they are heavily emphasizing geography in discover weekly playlists, which isn't what I want as an expat. It's always a bunch of songs in the same style, listened to nowhere else but where I am now, and pressing the dislike button doesn't help. I guess I should get a VPN/use a payment method from my home country/switch to an alternative.

I find I can just go into the settings and change my country, and Spotify will happily accept this. My GeoIP nor my credit card's country seems to have had an effect on the content in my library.

This is one of the joys of Spotify compared to other services I use, where it just accepts that I want the experience of the country I select, and not something arbitrary like an IP or a credit card (like Netflix, Steam).

It's not possible through all types of accounts though: https://support.spotify.com/uk/article/How-can-I-change-my-c...

"Premium [...] Note: For licensing reasons, you need to update your payment method to one that's been issued in your new country."

I checked now and it's asking me to change my payment method to change my locale. Makes sense on a level I guess, since I'm paying ~£4 instead of £10 due to currency differences.

Has anyone here tried canceling their Apple Music subscription? When doing it from the iPhone, it takes 6+ taps, and involves traversing through 4-6 different screens, including multiple super slow loading webviews.

How can it be allowed to ship Apple's own music service with every iPhone? Why isn't that deemed anti competitive?

Because they don't have a monopoly on mobile phones.

The issue with Microsoft shipping IE is that they did have a monopoly on desktop operating systems.

And arguably that they didn't hire enough lobbyists.


They don't require you to use Apple Music. If shipping with a default was anti-competitive wouldn't default installs of Safari, Chrome or Google Music also be anti-competitive?

But man they try awefully hard to compel you

I am sick of seeing my 15-plus-year music collection relegated to the "Downloaded Music" ghetto of my iphone. Apple's shitty cloud service is not nearly as high quality or cared for as lovingly as mine and I am sicking of seeing it front and center

Play Music does the same thing with the online storage locker... but at least they're hosting my music for free (and streaming me transcodes :/) and letting me download it again

I don't use Apple Music either. I just dislike the idea of not owning something so near and dear to me.

It works OK for me after turning off the "Show Apple Music" option in Settings->Music.

The only really annoying bit left after that is touching a band name link doesn't take me to that band in my library, it goes to some Apple Music type page with everything available, not just what I own.

Wouldn't your music also show up in the rest of your library? The "Downloaded Music" section is just music that's already on your phone and therefore you can listen to without an internet connection. But everything in there should also be present in the other sections of your library.

It gets mixed in with that free U2 album and all the various Starbucks codes I redeemed 10 years ago :/

You can hide music from your library. Apple put out a support page on how to do exactly that something like a week after the U2 debacle.

Here's how to delete from iCloud Music Library: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201323

Here's how to delete iTunes Store content: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT204343

For the latter, it says that deleting something you haven't downloaded will hide it from your purchase history as well.

Well you imported those Starbucks songs yourself so you can't really blame Apple for that. Try the "Delete from Library" option -- it works great.

Perhaps but I never explicitly requested or copied that music to my phone, yet it appears there anyway.

Use another app. I've just moved from the built-in Music app to Ecoute and it is so, so much simpler.

Thanks for the tip. Apple's first-party apps used to be top-notch :( Part of the reason I switched from Android was to avoid this kind of BS

Are you familiar with https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Microsoft_Cor...?

> The issue central to the case was whether Microsoft was allowed to bundle its flagship Internet Explorer (IE) web browser software with its Microsoft Windows operating system

Yes, the issue central to the case was whether Microsoft was allowed to bundle it because of their anti-competitive activity in doing so.

If shipping default pre-installed software was deemed anti-competitive, the problems would be much bigger than just Apple Music existing on an iPhone out of a box.

That's like saying a sexual harassment case is about whether or not it's legal to ask someone out. Context is important.

Actually that's false. The primary issue in the US vs Microsoft, was Microsoft's monopoly abuse directed at its OEM partners and the terms it was attempting to force upon them, not the IE bundling vs Netscape part of it. IE bundling was a smaller sideshow.

Using anything but Apple Music leads to a less favourable listening experience.

What are you talking about? Spotify works fine.

There's no way to pipe it over Airport without sending ALL of your audio to it, two second delay on all other apps, makes apps that have any sound almost unusable.

Can you control it with Siri yet?

Yes, it's just that those laws are no longer enforced.

- Nobody is forcing you to use Apple's music service.

- Not using Apple's music service doesn't prevent you from loading your own music on your phone.

- Apple happily allows other products (like Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM, etc) to be installed and used on the device.

- Music apps and services still happily play out over your device over your output of choosing.

- ... and the list goes on.

Very, very far from anti-competitive.

> - Apple happily allows other products (like Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM, etc) to be installed and used on the device.

Can they implement same capabilities? Same AirPlay support, streaming to HomePod, Siri integration?

Other music services can be installed on iOS and iOS doesn't overwhelmingly own the mobile market, or even have majority share.

Because Apple don't have a monopoly on cellphones. I don't think it's even 50% in the US.

I have used Apple music since it came out. Here are some problems that have been fixed over time:

- The de-duping was way too aggressive at first but there were workarounds and its working the way I like it now.

- Another annoying thing it did was when someone deleted their album from Apple music it would find the "same" tracks in compilations etc and pollute my library with them. Now it just says "can't play that anymore" which is what it should have done from the beginning.

- ANOTHER annoying thing it did was the "token" used to play music used to expire way too quickly. I usually listen to music on my iPod touch and it would want my password for my iTunes account at least once a day or it would refuse to play music, which was a major drag when away from Wi-Fi. It seems to be more sane now which is nice.

Overall I'm happy with Apple music. It is nice when discovering a new artist, I can listen to one of their albums without downloading their entire discography at once then doing the dance and magical incantations required by iTunes to get it onto my iPod without doing nasty things like deleting ALL of the other music from it.

FWIW the only reason I subscribed to Apple Music this year is because my car has CarPlay and the Spotify CarPlay app doesn’t (or can’t, I’m unclear) support Siri commands.

Weirdly, Apple Music sounds better on my cars speakers than Spotify, despite Spotify having a better Sample rate.

Maybe Apple Music has better proprietary access to my cars speakers.

I’d love it if someone with relevsnt experience could explain why that might be

Spotify uses ogg vorbis apparently, so that might be why it sounds different.

I notice that Spotify on iOS is much quieter than Apple Music. Perhaps codec related too?

Off topic, but I would try Apple Music if Apple were to simplify and allow people to use (iTunes/App Store/Music) accounts from at least two different countries and switch between them or use them simultaneously (with billing and payment information from each of those). I wouldn't want to jump through hoops and difficult-to-understand processes to take advantage of pricing differences as well as app and content availability across regions. Content restrictions are not entirely under the control of Apple, but usage of its own accounts system is. In a globalized world, this is an area Apple could make things simpler (if it wanted to).

On the Subject of Music.

Does anyone want or like, an iTunes Music Store, where you can gift / transfer Music you bought to others also on the same services, but you lost that pieces of Music from your library. Any music you bought within the store you can Stream it for free. The Music will never be "lost" because of some agreement renewal. You own the right to that pieces of music.

The one thing I hate about streaming, is that some music disappear overnight. Not to be returned until whatever deals they can sort out with labels. And it make the matter worst because once they sort it out, the same songs wont appear in my library again. I have to add it again.

I like Google music better. Have been a subscriber and it works well for me. It lacks some Apple music features like good radio stations. But the experience is nice overall. Also Google music is cheaper in my country by 20%.

Google Music doesn't have a desktop client (I know there's a third party one but it can't work around the limitations, e.g. offline sync etc.)

Do they have good machine learning like Discover Weekly on Spotify yet? I tried Apple Music and discovered I can't live without those features on Spotify. I hurriedly scurried back.

I find a lot of great music from Beats 1. That’s a different discovery mechanism that really badly takes some getting used to but I really love it. Curated Playlists in many ways feel over saturated at the moment, and grow stale. (Their design doesn’t help at showing you recently updated playlists). The 3 ML generated playlists are hit and miss. Favorites is fantastic, New Music is usually pretty good but suffers badly from time interval confirmation bias. Chill, it’s hard to say bc I don’t find the use case (“Chill”) to be what I want when I chill.

With a slowing upgrade cycle for iPhone, I predict that the phone hardware, cell connection, Music & iCloud subscription will be sold as a bundle in the not too distant future. The hardware has started to go that way with iPhone Upgrade Program and Apple's push for e-sim. Also, Telstra (Australian telco) is including Apple Music with its iPhone plans - I assume thats becoming common place in the US too?

Such packaging for luxury products and services becomes necessary when they become commoditised.


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