the candler blog

Apple Music is My Dream Streaming Service

Music, Technology

Jim Dalrymple, yesterday, in a post titled “Apple Music is a nightmare and I’m done with it”:

I had high hopes for Apple Music. I really wanted it to work and become my default music streaming service, but after the problems I’ve experienced over the last couple of weeks, I’m disabling it altogether.

His piece is a scathing indictment of the service. Dalrymple says he is “missing about 4,700 songs from my library with little hope of getting them back.” That sucks big time. My heart goes out to him.

I have tried to replicate Jim’s problems, but I can’t. My guess is that the culprit is his transitioning from Beats Music to Apple Music, which I never did. So maybe I dodged a bullet there.

As to where his 4,700 songs went: that’s scary and I want to know more about it. I understand that Jim is a bit beleaguered at this point, but I really wish he would go into more detail about how he experienced his songs going missing. Here’s what he tells us:

Over the weekend, I turned off Apple Music and it took large chunks of my purchased music with it. Sadly, many of the songs were added from CDs years ago that I no longer have access to. Looking at my old iTunes Match library, before Apple Music, I’m missing about 4,700 songs.

It’s Apple’s fault that these services are so difficult to talk about, but I don’t get what Jim’s iTunes Match library is in this context. Is he looking at a smart playlist? Are they still in his library but showing up with dreaded exclamation points? What I think is important for Apple Music and iTunes users to learn from Jim’s troubles is how to know what you don’t have. Unless I knew which tracks to look for, I don’t know that I’d know what I was missing. Right now, though, I think this should give us all huge pause before turning off Apple Music. I hope Jim (or anyone) can shed some light on what went wrong and how to prevent it.1

Now, all that said, I do want to share my experience with Apple Music. I absolutely love it. If Apple Music is Jim’s nightmare, it’s my dream. For me it’s the perfect mix of my own musical tastes (my 98+ GB library that I’ve been building since at least 2002) and an infinite library of songs brought to my attention by others. That integration with my own library is crucial, and it’s really what I missed with Spotify and Rdio, the only other streaming services I ever really tried.

I’ll concede that there is a learning curve to using Apple Music in conjunction with your own library. The highest point of friction for me is search, which is basically the only tool I use to get to music I want. You can search either Apple Music or My Music. It takes some getting used to, but I think of it like this:

  • My Music is your iTunes library
  • Apple Music is all2 other music; it’s the streaming service

There are things in my library3 that I know will never be available in Apple Music, like my single track of the entirety of Radiohead’s OK Computer that I sometimes like to listen to even though I have the full album as tracks and it sounds just fine. I should mention that I’ve been an iTunes Match subscriber since February 2013, so my entire library was already in Apple’s cloud. Flipping on Apple Music created zero friction for me.

Since subscribing to the streaming service, I’ve been adding music to my library left and right, mostly while listening to Beats 1 (sometimes by way of Connect). I hear something I like and I either add it to “My Music” or put it into a playlist. That last part, adding songs from the Apple Music to my playlists, is pretty amazing. I have a playlist for running4 that went stagnant for months. Now I add music to it a few times a week. I love that I didn’t have to recreate that playlist in Apple Music with matched tracks or anything; I get to have the best of both worlds.

Jim Dalrymple is one of the most respected writers in the Apple and tech communities. A one-word blog post from him (usually “Nope.” or “Yep.”) holds more weight than the sum total of all Apple “analysis” out there, so a blistering takedown from him is not something to be dismissed. I hope Apple does right by him and other users affected by any bugginess.

I just want to put it out there that Apple Music is the best streaming service I have ever used. My guess is that there are a lot of people out there who have used it without any issues. But that’s not much of a story.

  1. Back up your libraries, folks. I use Backblaze. Use this link to sign up for it and I get a little kickback.

  2. I know it’s not all music ever. I’m being hyperbolic, but the massiveness of streaming libraries feels like every song ever to me. Pulling the hyperbole back and saying something like “most other music” feels inaccurate too.

  3. Ahem, My Music, see above where I said Apple doesn’t make it easy to talk about this stuff.

  4. I really don’t mean to talk about running this much. It just happens…

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