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Posts tagged with "Apple Music"

Planet of the Apps Launches Worldwide with Season Premiere

Apple launched the premiere episode of Planet of the Apps last night, at the end of the second full day of WWDC. Planet of the Apps features app creators who compete to receive funding for their apps with the help of the show's celebrity mentors. The first episode runs just under 50 minutes, and is available free of charge for a limited time to all viewers on the show's website. Future installments of the 10-episode series will only be available to Apple Music subscribers, and will release weekly.

Timed to coordinate with the launch, the Apple Music app for iOS has received a new 'TV & Movies' section inside the 'Browse' tab. The section is headlined by Planet of the Apps, but it also features some of Apple's previously released original video content, such as Drake's 'Please Forgive Me' and the '808' documentary. If you tap through to the Planet of the Apps informational page, it contains more info about the show, a listing of all currently available episodes, and also a selection of bonus video content featuring the series' celebrity personalities.

If anyone sets out to locate Apple's new original series, they won't even have to visit the 'TV & Movies' section to find it. Apple is heavily featuring it in the top section of Apple Music's 'Browse' tab with six featured banners. The show is also being featured inside of Apple's TV app (assuming Apple Music has been given user permission to integrate with TV). Additionally, the show's website is linked to from the front page of Apple.com, and a wide array of press stories have been released in the last 24 hours covering the launch.

Clearly, Apple wants the world to know that Planet of the Apps is different from its original video work of the past; the tech company is now officially in the TV content business.


Carpool Karaoke Will Be Released Every Tuesday Starting August 8th

Apple announced that Carpool Karaoke: The Series will debut for Apple Music subscribers on August 8th. According to Apple’s press release, the show, based on James Corden’s popular segment from The Late Late Show with James Corden:

…will welcome a different group of superstars every Tuesday, with new episodes available exclusively to Apple Music subscribers in more than 100 countries. Celebrity pairings include Will Smith and James Corden; Miley, Noah, Billy Ray and the entire Cyrus family; Shakira and Trevor Noah; Game of Thrones stars Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams; Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith; John Legend, Alicia Keys and Taraji P. Henson; LeBron James and James Corden; and many more.

Originally anticipated to be released earlier, Apple pushed the debut of Carpool Karaoke back last month.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.’