Thursday, 22 October 2015

shake it off

I wonder what will happen now that all the freebie subscriptions to Apple Music have run out?

For many, they actually ran out a month ago, but I expect there's a lot of people like me who don't remember until the money is quietly extracted from the credit card.

When the Apple system started, I thought I'd give it a go, but in honesty, I can't say that it has worked for me.

In iTunes I still mainly play my own choices of music, based upon my CD and download collection and playlists, but I've seldom used the Apple suggestions. I deliberately downgraded my Spotify back to freebie when I started, as a way to remind myself to use the Apple alternative.

So why didn't it work?
For me the Apple recommendations have always been so crass that I wondered what else I needed to do. Maybe there was another part of the system that didn't just assume I wanted to listen to recent pop, MoR and dad rock? My Apple Music recommendations regularly feature One Direction, Jean Michell-Jarre(?), Justin Bieber, Wally Murs, Pure Rave. If this was, it would be screaming musical compatibility - low.

Maybe it is because I haven't used it enough and I just get generic suggestions?

I've been using iTunes for many years and Apple have slurped in around 2.5k albums and 22k tracks that I have loaded. My stretchy taste in albums have been through their Genius process and Match, yet they come up with commercial 'top of the pops' suggestions. Perhaps it's their "don't know what to do" default.

I think the last couple of albums I bought were towards the popular end of the spectrum - Wolf Alice and Tame Impala, both of which are probably at least 'indie' in their iTunes genre classification?

To illustrate, that's Ellie Rowsell and the rest of Wolf Alice in Haringey early this year.

What next?
Today, after cancelling the Apple Music subscription, I restarted Spotify Premium, logged on and hit play.

It was an instantly better experience for discovering new music. Sure, I like listening to tracks I know, but sometimes to let Spotify wander off and find 20 or more tracks in a row without any need to hit skip. Far better.

So I'll stick with Spotify as the discovery mechanism, use iTunes as a player and continue to buy via a combination of artist web-sites, an occasional browse in Rough Trade or Fopp and online Amazon CDs with Autorip.

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