Four Weeks with Apple Music

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my first week with Apple Music. For the most part it’s still going well. There’s been a few hiccups, but I haven’t had the issues others have, and certainly nothing close to Jim Dalrymple’s experience. I’m a little nervous to turn it off, if I’m honest. (Perhaps this is Apple’s master plan.)

Minor frustrations with the system involve licensing. Unlike CDs, digital music can be licensed on a per-country basis. Additionally, some artists have decided not to license Apple Music to stream their music. You’ll occasionally encounter these songs in playlists – they’re greyed out in the iTunes interface – but it’s odd that they even get included. I guess for those people who already have the song, it would play. The other area where licensing comes into play is in “Connect”. I follow several non-US artists. Many release in the US, but do so later than in other countries. I’ve seen a couple times where the artist posted a video that wasn’t yet available in the US. My hope is that streaming will kill country-based DRM in digital music. A boy can dream, right?

My biggest issue with the service, however, is how crappy the experience is in iTunes. Marco Arment refers to iTunes as a toxic hellstew. The implementation of Apple Music in iTunes leaves a lot to be desired. I’ve had streams stop mid-play; I’ve had artists pages fail to load with a cryptic message of “Error connecting”. I’ve never had these issues using the Music app on the iPhone – not once. iTunes is increasingly the added on later piece of the music experience.

The recommendations area, “For You”, takes the cake, though. On the iPhone, I can long tap on a recommendation and it presents me with several options, one of which is “I don’t like this suggestion”. This is necessary functionality for a recommendations area. It’s nowhere to be found in iTunes. I have to switch to the iPhone to do this refinement. I wonder if it’s an oversight or if it’s what happens when you shove a ton of things into a single app. I hope they add this functionality; or maybe just scrap iTunes and start over.

[Update: August 14, 2015]: Apple just released a new version of iTunes (version 12.2.2). As part of the changes in this version, iTunes now includes the ability to tell Apple Music to recommend less of an item.