This week's sponsor

SaneBox

Clean Up Your Inbox Today (and Keep It That Way Forever)


Posts tagged with "Apple Music"

Jimmy Iovine Shares Frustrations Over Free Music Streaming, Signals Greater Push into Video

Tim Ingham of Music Business Worldwide reports on a wide-ranging interview with Jimmy Iovine about Apple Music. One recurring theme is how wrong Iovine believes it is that artists are encouraged to give their work away for free on services like YouTube and Spotify:

The fact is that ‘free’ in music streaming is so technically good and ubiquitous that it’s stunting the growth of paid streaming.

Two things have to happen: free has to become more difficult or restricted, and the paid services have to get better.

It blew my mind that the day after I walked out on stage [to announce Apple Music at WWDC in 2015], YouTube mobile was licensed.

Iovine also indicates that the Apple Music team has moved away from doing as many album exclusives and is now focusing more heavily on video content:

We tried it. We’ll still do some stuff with the occasional artist. The labels don’t seem to like it and ultimately it’s their content.

But we’re doing exclusive video content now, and putting a lot of money into that.

Permalink

Rejected Apple Intern Applicant Reimagines the Music App

Jason Yuan, writing for Medium's Startup Grind:

Earlier this year I applied and interviewed for a graphic design internship at Apple Music (an opportunity of a lifetime), and was turned down with a very kind letter stating that although they liked my work, they wanted to see more growth and training.

At first, I was frustrated — Northwestern University doesn’t offer any sort of undergraduate graphic design program, so whatever growth they were looking for would have to be self taught…

…but as soon as I came to this realization, I became inspired to embark on what became a a three-month long journey to the holy grail — the iOS app that Apple Music deserves.

We don't often link to concept pieces, but Yuan's work is well worth a look. Besides the clean, elegant visual updates found here, one of the most interesting segments in the piece concerns a proposed new music discovery method called 'My Sampler.' The idea is that users can sample short clips of songs and either swipe down to add a song to their library or swipe up if they don't like it. Yuan does a great job of showing how this type of gamification through gestures could be a welcome addition to the iOS Music app.

Permalink

Dispelling the Apple Services Myth

Apple is known for its quality hardware and software, but services are another story.

Cloud-based services are the future – there's no denying that. And Apple historically has struggled with its cloud offerings. From MobileMe, to the early growing pains of iCloud, to the Apple Maps fiasco, the company gained a poor reputation in the area of services.

Only in the last two years has Apple publicly touted services as a core part of its business. Company press releases as recent as May 2015 ended with the following self-definition:

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.

There's a lot that feels outdated here, including the fact that both Mac and iPod are highlighted before the iPhone. But one major way this paragraph fails to describe the Apple of today is that the word 'services' is nowhere to be found.

Amid a variety of other changes, Apple's current self-definition includes the following:

Apple’s four software platforms — iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS — provide seamless experiences across all Apple devices and empower people with breakthrough services including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud.

Services are a key component of modern Apple. The way the company defines itself, along with the numerous services shoutouts in quarterly earnings calls, prove that.

Despite Apple's increased focus on services, the common narrative that the company "can't do services" still hangs around – in online tech circles at least.

But is that narrative still true, or has it grown outdated?

I want to share how I use Apple services in my everyday life across three important contexts of life:

  • As I work,
  • On the go, and
  • Around the house.

My aim is not to perform an in-depth comparison of Apple's cloud offerings and competing products. Though competitors and their features will come up occasionally, the focus here is on my experiences in everyday living – my experiences, not yours. I understand that just because something does or doesn't work for me, the same isn't necessarily true for you. The point of this piece is not to try proving anything; instead, I simply want to assess and share my current experiences with Apple's services.

Read more


How Drake and Apple Music Broke Streaming Records with More Life

Fascinating look by Micah Singleton at how Drake's latest mixtape More Life broke streaming records on Apple Music despite not being exclusive to it:

After setting a record with 89.9 million streams in its first 24 hours on Apple’s streaming service — over 33 million streams ahead of Sheeran’s Divide in its first 24 hours on Spotify, which has around 80 million more users — it’s clear Drake and his favorite music service have cracked the streaming formula.

So how did Apple manage to break a record with an album that's also available on Spotify, with only 20 million users compared to Spotify’s 100 million? The answer, according to the Apple Music team, is the power of Beats 1 and OVO Sound Radio.

For Drake, Beats 1 has essentially replaced SoundCloud, the platform he once dominated and released singles through — a move that Jackson and Apple VP of apps and content Robert Kondrk said was a risk for Drake at the time. “We weren’t a proven hit, we weren’t a proven entity at all, whatsoever,” says Jackson. SoundCloud just got a shoutout from Chance The Rapper at the Grammys, but the service has been having a rough time since Drake left, with Recode reporting it recently had to raise a $70 million debt round just to stay afloat.

I still wish Beats 1 shows were easier to access and discover, but clearly the system has been working out well for Drake.

Permalink

Record Bird Is Apple Music’s Missing Discovery Tool for New Releases

When it comes to keeping track of new music releases from my favorite artists, streaming services have always been a disappointment. After nearly eight years of streaming music every day, I've realized that the problem lies on the two ends of the New Releases spectrum: these days, services either prioritize front page curation skewed towards new pop, R&B/hip-hop, or EDM tracks (the most popular and lucrative genres), or they algorithmically suggest new releases for artists I may like, but which I'm not necessarily familiar with.

I've tried all of the major streaming services since 2009, and only two of them have gotten close to my ideal implementation of "Here's everything artists you already know have released or are about to release".

Rdio (forever in our hearts) had a solid New Releases section featuring a mix of variegate editorial picks culled from a variety of genres, labels, and trends. Unlike the modern equivalents in Spotify and Apple Music, I remember Rdio's New Releases page1 offered a more balanced, heterogeneous mix of new songs.

Spotify, on the other hand, has invested heavily on algorithmic and serendipitous discovery of songs, but it still hasn't quite figured out how to display every new release from every artist you care about. Spotify can send emails for new release highlights, but those are only a subset of new releases from your favorite artists – usually, only the most popular ones. Other Spotify features are similarly focused on highlights.

In comparing the treatment of new music releases among different services, I realized that this is largely what Apple had set out to solve with Connect in Apple Music: a way to follow all your favorite artists and view updates for their announcements – whether they were new songs, video clips, tour dates, or photos.

Apple Music Connect, however, has faltered due to Apple's inability to scale a music-centric network (twice) and because it was predicated on a commitment from artists – both superstars and smaller acts – to post regular updates on their Connect feeds. After an initial spur of song previews and photos published on Connect, Apple Music's network has mostly turned into a ghost town of sporadic updates, often automatically cross-posted to other networks (without any exclusivity), with hashtags that can't be tapped and shortened links that open Safari webpages after multiple redirects. It's not a good user experience. Apple Music Connect is an afterthought; it's also been regarded as such by Apple itself with the removal of the dedicated page in iOS 10.

Fortunately, there are still people who understand what a music lover with a broad range of preferences wants from a tool designed to discover new music. For the past couple of months, I've been using Record Bird, a free iPhone app hailing from Austria, to check on updates from my favorite artists every day, stream songs, watch videos, and even read related stories.

Read more


A Recap of the Code Media Conference Interview with Eddy Cue

Last night Recode's Peter Kafka hosted an interview with Apple's Eddy Cue, SVP of Internet Software and Services, who was joined by television producer Ben Silverman at Recode's Code Media Conference. The discussion centered around Apple's video ambitions, with new information and trailers being released for two of Apple's upcoming original shows: Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke. Additionally, Cue commented on work Apple's doing with Apple Music and in a variety of other areas.

Read more


Apple Previews Carpool Karaoke Series During Grammys

During the Grammys, Apple debuted a one minute preview of its upcoming show Carpool Karaoke: The Series, which will be available exclusively to Apple Music subscribers. The preview video features a montage of clips from the upcoming show including many of its celebrity guests. The notes accompanying the clip uploaded to Apple’s YouTube channel provide additional details:

Based on the segment that has become a global, viral video sensation on The Late Late Show with James Corden, the new CARPOOL KARAOKE series features 16 celebrity pairings riding along in a car together as they sing tunes from their personal playlists and surprise fans who don’t expect to see big stars belting out tunes one lane over.

Featuring James Corden, Will Smith, Billy Eichner, Metallica, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Ariana Grande, Seth MacFarlane, Chelsea Handler, Blake Shelton, Michael Strahan, John Cena, Shaquille O’Neal, and many more.

The question left unanswered by the clip is when the show will be available. For now, it is still ‘Coming Soon.’


MediaPlayer Enhancements in iOS 10.3

Charles Joseph, developer of Picky, on the enhancements coming to the MediaPlayer framework in iOS 10.3:

I was genuinely surprised and elated to find that yesterday’s iOS 10.3 beta finally adds what looks like proper queuing functionality to MPMusicPlayerController and I excitedly tweeted about it. Scott Edwards asked if I could “explain why that’s important to a non programmer”, so I’m going to try to do that here.

Alternatives to Apple’s Music app (like Picky) need to be able to access and play the user’s iTunes library, unless they’re part of a streaming service (like Spotify) or providing their own syncing and library management and companion apps (quite the tall order). While developers can build incredibly advanced playback functionality with tools like AVFoundation, that’s only possible for an increasingly smaller subset of users’ libraries: only locally downloaded, non-DRMed content — nothing stored in the cloud and nothing downloaded from Apple Music. People are storing more and more of their music in the cloud and expect third-party apps to be able to keep up.

It sounds like Apple is listening to feedback from developers of third-party music players. The changes documented in the iOS 10.3 beta so far don't address all the concerns Allen Pike covered last year, but it's a good first step. I'm curious to see how apps will take advantage of the improved API.

Permalink

An Interview with Apple Music’s Lowe, Saint John, and Jackson

Complex published an interview with what it dubs Apple’s ‘Stream Team:’ Zane Lowe, Bozoma Saint John, and Larry Jackson. The three sat down with Complex to discuss Apple Music, its evolution since it launched in June 2015, where the music industry is heading, and life at Apple.

Regarding their vision for Apple Music as a product, the trio told Complex:

It’s been almost 18 months since Apple Music’s launch, and it isn’t a simple streaming platform anymore. How would each of you describe Apple Music today?

Larry Jackson: It’s really interesting that you would even ask a question like that, because it means that we’ve achieved what we set out to achieve initially: Make something that’s the intersection of all things pop-culture. To make it more than just a utility. I like to think of it as a place where the best creative thinkers in music can congregate and come up with different ideas.

Zane Lowe: Larry was the first person who ever called me and asked if I wanted to be involved in Apple Music. For the most part, it remains how he and I talked about it in that first conversation, which was a place for music to live, and for artists to call home, and for an audience to feel like this is where the conversation is happening. I want it to go deeper than just availability.

Bozoma Saint John: Apple Music is a living, breathing brand. Obviously, as a marketer, I love to work with brands that aren’t static, that have life and personality. Apple Music has that. It’s very affirming to be able to take the personalities that already exist and then make that one statement that can move culture. 

Saint John and Lowe also addressed how, at Apple, the artistry of music exists alongside the technology used to deliver it to music fans, echoing Steve Jobs’ explanation of the intersection of technology and the liberal arts:

What are the advantages and disadvantages of working on this project at a company like Apple?

Saint John: Apple is a unique company, in that the art and the science sit together very nicely. There’s an appreciation for both sides of the brain. For me, it’s a much easier conversation in this particular environment, because you have to appreciate what is a very artistic, emotional, ever-changing platform, and also have the rigor of a technology that cannot fail, that has to be consistent. It doesn’t have any flexibility.

Lowe: With tech, it’s mathematics. There are hard margins. What happens when you take something that you love, that makes you feel a certain way, that’s made of those hard margins? What does the future feel and sound like? How do you keep the humanity and the feelings and the stories and the conversations in it? 

Apple Music has evolved quite a bit since it launched and based on recent reports, that appears likely to continue into the foreseeable future. Complex’s interview with Lowe, Saint John, and Jackson, which includes a video segment worth watching, is a fascinating snapshot of the thoughts of three of the people leading Apple Music at a time of ever-increasing competition among streaming services.

Permalink