We’ve been trying to cover Apple events with a slightly different approach lately. Starting last year we decided not to cover Apple’s live events in the same way we used to, because we were certain that most of our readers probably watched it along with us. For a few of those who didn’t, we feel the best place to find out what was introduced, is through Apple’s very own website. So instead of writing about what was announced, we want to share information that won’t be there on Apple’s website. Following up on our piece on key numbers from the keynote, we will be sharing our thoughts on stuff Apple touched upon during the keynote and the conference.
The part of the WWDC keynote I was most looking forward to as a songwriter and musician was the part where they introduced the new Apple Music service. I wouldn’t call everything that preceded the Apple Music announcement lacklustre, but at the same time it wasn’t something that made me jump out of my chair either. So its fair to say that I had high expectations from the Apple Music segment of the WWDC keynote. Here are some of my key observations on it –
When the slide behind Tim Cook read “One More Thing” I was very excited, for the first time during the keynote, I felt anxious, I couldn’t wait to see what Apple had under their sleeves. The highlight of the entire segment in my opinion was the moment when Iovine got on stage, and started talking about the way Steve Jobs changed the music industry forever with iTunes and then talked about the problems Apple Music solves. The video that followed was incredible, I thought to myself – this is exactly what musicians or even just people who love music need, one place to share and discover great music by small and big artists, in all of its artistic glory.
The last moment of excitement for me was when Iovine described Apple Music in the following three ways – a revolutionary music service, a first ever 24/7, live, worldwide radio station, and a platform that connects fans with artists (this was quite reminiscent of the iPhone launch). Beyond that point, in terms of the presentation, everything went down hill. Don’t get me wrong, I think that Apple Music is indeed a very well thought approach to not just music consumption, but rather music as a whole. But the way the entire segment was presented, beyond that point was embarrassing to say the least. Eddy Cue’s entire bit seemed redundant, and it was completely focused on the insignificant details of the Apple Music service, until the point he talked about the Beats 1 Radio and Connect. But whatever momentum that was regained by talking about Beats Radio and Connect, was completely fizzed out by Drake. I for the life of me couldn’t see the point Drake was trying to make, or what it had to do with Apple Music. What I would’ve expected is him talking about the kind of ways he plans to engage with his fans using Connect, and not just give a rundown for it. Overall I think the presentation was a mess, even though the message had a lot of depth and I think Apple has done something very interesting, the message in my opinion got very diluted in the confusing manner in which Apple chose to present it.
Connect: Count me in
As a songwriter and musician, the possibility of having my music featured on the worlds most popular online music store gets my heart pumping. On the flip side, from a music lovers perspective, to be able to stay in touch with the musicians I listen to in one single place also seems pretty fascinating. Things like behind the scenes shots into the studio, or lyrics to songs, or just fun videos from tours are all great ways for artists to connect with their fans.
Some of my favorite artists, such as FKA Twigs, Pharrell, and Alabama Shakes, were featured during the segment on Connect, and I can’t wait to check this feature out. One could argue that all that Connect offers are the capabilities of individual social media services such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube put together. Sure, there will be people who would prefer to visit all of these networks separately, but for me, to be able to access all of the above information in the same app as the one in which I am playing their music seems more seamless and intuitive.
Subscription and Radio
I had originally subscribed to Beats when it launched last year, and was instantly sold by the concept of a no-advertisement, curated by humans, radio service. I’m even more in love now, with the idea of the Beats 1 service – which is essentially a live (streamed simultaneously to 100 countries) 24-7 global radio station, broadcasting out of London, New York, and Los Angeles. I think what sets the service apart is the cultural impact it stands to make. As Apple puts it – this radio service boasts something that others don’t, a whole lot of soul. Instead of just being focused on playing an endless stream of music based on genres, or BPM, and algorithms, the service is powered by humans, it’s powered by popular radio personalities (such as Zane Lowe, Ebro Darden, and Julie Adenuga) who will go beyond just playing music, and will feature interviews, guest hosts, and more. To me it sounds a lot like radio stations like NPR and KEXP, but more integrated into the entire Apple ecosystem.
Beyond the radio service itself, the ability to have a catalogue of over 30 million songs ready to stream on demand sounds like a dream come true to me. When Steve Jobs introduced the iPod to the world, he touted its ability to store 1000 songs in your pocket. With Apple Music, Apple has stretched that number to 30 million. All of this at $9.99 is a bargain if you ask me.
I think that Apple Music is getting a lot of unwarranted bad-rep (exhibit A & B). I personally think that the only thing horrible about the service is how Apple chose to present it. I love the social aspect of Connect, I’m super excited about the cultural impact Beats 1 could make, and on paper the Apple Music service seems to be offering a lot for an industry standard price-point.
Haters gonna hate.