throwback the undertones
by request: love & mercy (bill pohlad, 2014)

music friday: apple music

No links to tunes today ... doing something different.

I’ve been using streaming music services with all-you-can-eat options for longer than I’ve had this blog. Spotify has been my choice for some time now, basically since it came out in the U.S., and we’re not an Apple family ... I’ve never had an Apple product, not because I don’t like them but because we got locked into a Microsoft world early on (and my mobile use has gone from Palm to Android). But three free months to try out the new Apple Music was enticing enough that I downloaded iTunes and am now giving it a spin.

One essential for me is to integrate my own collection with whatever the service offers. Think of it as the Beatles Syndrome ... I can’t choose to listen to specific Beatles music unless I use my own copies. Apple Music (I don’t really know what to call this ... to me, it seems like I’m just using iTunes) allows this, and while the interface for it seems clunky to me, that might just be my lack of experience with it.

The key thing for the program, in my eyes, is the “For You” section. (I’m interested in the ability to create playlists ... I have lots and lots of them on Spotify, I like making them ... this is different, using iTunes to create playlists for me, which Spotify also does, but which I’ve ignored because making my own playlists is so easy with Spotify. Again, so far this is a pain in the ass with Apple Music, but that might be me, so I’m not judging yet.) The first time I checked out “For You” (after running through the initial “what you like” stuff), it offered “Neil Young: Deep Cuts”. Here were the first ten tracks:

  • Organ Solo from Dead Man
  • “Journey Through the Past” from 1971 Massey Hall
  • “Powderfinger” from Live Rust
  • “Tired Eyes”
  • “Cortez the Killer”
  • “Pocahontas”
  • “Falling Off the Face of the Earth”
  • “Human Highway”
  • “Cripple Creek Ferry”
  • “Ambulance Blues”

Not bad, although if they think “Cortez the Killer” is a deep cut, I need to talk to them.

After a couple of days, the software theoretically knows me better. Here is what they are offering this morning in “For You”, in order they appear on the screen.

Playlists: “Still Crazy After All These Years” (“You’re never too old to feel a little younger” ... first song, “Hey Nineteen” by Steely Dan); “Intro to The Who”; “Intro to Bonnie Raitt” (on the one hand, they realize I like The Who and Bonnie Raitt, on the other hand, I don’t need an intro to those artists)

Albums: Disraeli Gears, Fleetwood Mac’s Men of the World, Chicago’s Greatest Hits, Jackson Browne’s debut, There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, Howlin’ Wolf’s The Real Folk Blues. Gets it about half right.

Playlists: “Blatantly in Love: The 70s” (Wings, Cheap Trick, Neil Young, Queen), “Intro to Traffic”, “Eric Clapton: Live”.

There’s more, but you get the idea. They already know I’m a sucker for the 60s and 70s.

Besides “For You”, there are Playlists that seem to be connected to my tastes (everything from “’50s Oldies Mix” to “Indie Rock & Lo-Fi Mix”), and Radio, which I guess is supposed to be the big thing here, with a 24x7 Beats 1 channel with “live” DJs, along with the usual stuff like “Pure Pop” and “Country” that may be created algorithmically.

So far, I’ve heard stuff I might have missed, but it’s not notably different overall from other services. And if there’s no real difference, I can’t see sticking with it. I have three months to decide.