Want to request a song on Beats 1? Here’s a list of country-based request line phone numbers.
Interesting that Apple is going old school on this. Since Apple already has solid data on what is popular, it seems to me this is about capturing audio snippets they can play on the air. Which is also old school. Think Casey Kasem and song request shout outs.
I tried texting to the US line and got this response:
Thanks for texting the Beats 1 request line. We want to hear your voice! Please call us to leave a request. Thanks!
Interestingly, the phone was not on iMessage (it was green instead of blue).
One of the Beats 1 hosts, Travis Mills, posted this tweet:
Heading to @Beats1 LA & will be taking requests today! Hit me with a voice message at firstname.lastname@example.org & listen to me on @AppleMusic.
I texted a request to email@example.com. It is blue (as you would expect from an iCloud addy) and goes through with no response. Could be specific to Travis Mills’ show, could be a general request dropbox. I’ve not found an official mention of this address, so not clear yet who is monitoring the address.
Some scattered thoughts on the first day with Apple Music.
First things first, the thought that keeps coming back to me is this: We are all listening to the same station, to the same DJ, to the same music. We are all experiencing the Apple Music and Beats 1 launch together. In unison. This is a remarkable experience.
The first tick of Apple Music was Apple’s release of iOS 8.4. I got it pretty early in the process, so the download and install took just a few minutes, but my sense is that folks who came along even an hour after the release took as much as an hour to get through the process. To be expected. The Apple Music launch was a major event and everyone was forced to go through the upgrade in order to participate.
With iOS 8.4 installed I fired up my Music app, tapped the Beats 1 Listen Now button, immediately heard Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music for Airports. This is clearly music for the holding pen, for folks waiting for the show to begin. In fact, this experience felt very much like sitting in the room at WWDC, waiting for the keynote to start.
There was a bit of mic chatter, then Zane Lowe broke in to make the official launch:
Alright, man. We gotta kick this whole thing off at some point. We spent the last three months trying to build this radio station and now we can build no more. We must launch.
We’ve had all sorts of ideas about the first song, things that have made statements, things with fanfare, but ultimately, there’s been one song that people keep coming back to. We’ve tested sound to it, I’ve referred to it lyrically when I needed a boost, cause it’s been stressful at times, you know, and exciting and challenging. We’ve even cut demos to it to convince people to continue to support this radio station.
This band put this EP together a few months ago, with little or no fanfare outside of core fans. But they’re building. That’s exactly the kind of story, the kind of record, we need to kick this whole thing off with.
Cause man, it’s not about fanfare. That’s fireworks and a hangover the next day. It’s about quality and consistency.
We’re Beats 1. We’re worldwide. And from now on, we’re always on.
And with that, Beats 1 was on the air. First song: City, by Manchester’s Spring King.
And Twitter came alive.
A lot of people I followed, as well as folks who followed me, were listening to the launch, sharing this experience. People around the world. It was truly amazing.
I can’t help but think that Apple has unleashed something important here, a vital addition to the ecosystem. With your upgrade to iTunes 12.2, which came out Tuesday afternoon, you can now listen to Beats 1 and Apple Music on your Mac, on your iPhone, via your Apple Watch and, this fall, on an Android device, if that’s your thing.
One final thought. Is this the end game for Apple Music, or just the beginning? Will Apple use Beats 1 as a base, adding new stations focused on different genres, a la Sirius/XM?
Whatever their next move, this was an incredible start for Apple Music.
Apple just posted iTunes 12.2, which brings its new Apple Music service to the Mac. Open iTunes and go to iTunes > Check for Updates.
From the update page…
This update introduces Apple Music–a revolutionary music service, 24/7 global radio, and a way for fans to connect with their favorite artists–all included in the redesigned Music app. iOS 8.4 also includes improvements for iBooks and bug fixes.
Go get it!
On Monday afternoon, I went to Apple’s campus to meet with Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, and Beats Founder, Jimmy Iovine, to talk about Apple Music.
Apple is heading into a streaming market filled with competitors. For the first time in many years, Apple is doing something in the music market where it is not the de facto leader. However, competitors didn’t determine what Apple would do with its new service.
“We certainly pay attention to what competitors are doing, but I’m never losing any sleep on competitors,” said Cue. “I don’t have any control over what they do—what I have control over is what we do. We’ve spent all of our time and energy thinking about what it is we want to build.”
There are a lot of different components to Apple Music. Some existing from iTunes, others integrated from Beats. These are the pieces that Apple needed to put together to make Apple Music stand out from everyone else.
“If you define the service by the fact there’s 30 million songs you can play, they’re all the same,” said Cue. “It doesn’t matter which one you get. It can never be just about that, there has to be more.”
So, it’s not the sheer number of songs, but the ways the service presents and uses those songs to give the user what they want—great music.
“One of the things we wanted with Apple Music was depth, said Cue. “We wanted you to be immersed in it when you started using it. Jimmy, Trent, myself, and others would go in a room—we argued a lot, we fought a lot, and we’re still doing it. We’re doing it on a few things we can change on this version.”
When I asked Cue how he would try to convince people that Apple Music was better than competing services, he said, “Ultimately, you can’t convince them, it’s just got to be better.”
Curation in Apple Music
The whole concept of curation that made Beats playlists so popular is not only a part of Apple Music, it’s also a part of Apple Music Radio, as well.
Cue and Iovine explain that Apple Music Radio is hand programmed now. Curators choose the songs and how those songs relate to other songs. It’s not a playlist, but by doing the radio component of Apple Music like this, you can get songs from multiple genres coming together in a way that you wouldn’t have before.
Iovine said that when he hears an algorithm choose songs for a Bruce Springsteen channel, for example, he can pretty much guess what’s going to be played. Bob Seger, John Mellencamp, and Tom Petty are always popular choices.
As he pointed out, most algorithms leave you stuck in an era, and stuck in a particular sound. However, Apple Music, Iovine argues, provides a much richer and broader range of music. He went back to the Springsteen example.
“What freaked me out is that Apple Music played ‘Paint It Black,’ which I happen to know is one of Springsteen’s favorite Stones songs,” said Iovine.
Jimmy said that he is constantly calling the curators with suggestions on how to make the service better. Obviously, he’s very familiar with many of the components of Apple Music because they came from Beats.
However, not everything can be done by hand.
“We’re trying to bring the best of both worlds,” said Cue. “You can’t do everything humanly curated, and you can’t do everything with algorithms. We have what we believe is the best of both.”
As part of the Apple Music launch, the Beats service will cease operation, but not right away.
“The Beats accounts will migrate. We won’t do that automatically, but we’ll have a Beats app update that will walk you through it,” said Cue. “Beats will continue to work for a few months while the migration happens.”
The good news is that all of the content you’ve collected using Beats will migrate over to Apple Music. That’s great news for Beats subscribers, like me, because I have some great playlists that I’ll want to keep.
Beats 1 Radio
Jimmy shocked me a bit when he said, “Radio is massive.” I considered radio to be like magazines—steadily going downhill for the last decade or so. However, Iovine said that 270 million people in America still listen to radio, adding jokingly, “I didn’t think there were that many people that had a radio.”
Cue and Iovine explained that the problem with radio was not the fact that people didn’t like it, but rather that too much advertising and radio station research into what songs were popular was flawed. Songs that weren’t popular right away were pulled, based on research, so you listen to the radio and hear the same songs all the time.
As Cue pointed out, Technology limited the ads, but it also eliminated the DJ, something many people enjoyed.
“As part of this ecosystem, what if there was a station that didn’t have any of those rules and didn’t serve any of those masters,” said Iovine. “What if it just took anything that was exciting, whether it be on Connect or a new record out of Brooklyn or Liverpool.”
“Or whether it was rock or hip hop,” added Cue.
So one of those genres could literally follow the other on Beats 1 Radio.
“It works,” said Iovine. “And it works because the DJ is in the middle explaining how it works. DJs give you context.”
So what does Beats 1 Radio compete with? Nothing, according to Iovine.
“It doesn’t compete with anything that’s out there because there’s never been anything like this,” said Iovine.
Measuring the success of Apple Music
Ultimately, Apple Music will be judged to be successful, or not. Jimmy’s definition of success was focused on the art of music.
“If it moves culture and helps move music forward. I think it’s going to be good for music,” said Iovine. “I had money, now I have more money. It can’t be about the money. Moving popular culture is so much more important than money—that’s what at stake here. I made Beats because I love what they [Apple] do. Everything I’ve done since 2003 has come from Apple. Everything.”
For Eddy Cue, one of Apple’s top executives, the customer experience is one of the top considerations.
“I know how we’ll will judge it, and we know how others will judge it. Obviously, over time others will judge it by the numbers, but that’s not the way we’ve ever judged our products. The numbers are the end result. The way we judge it is are people loving and having an experience with it that’s better than anything they thought was possible. If that’s the case, the numbers always come out in the end.”
Music is an important part of my life. I care about every aspect of music, from creating to mixing, playing to listening, and seeing bands live. I feel music in my soul. Music has the ability to make me sad, angry, happy and every emotion in between.
I sat down yesterday with Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, and Beats Founder Jimmy Iovine to talk about Apple Music. I also started using the new service myself, so I wanted to give you my thoughts on what I found so far, good and bad.
I’ve said before that I want Apple Music to succeed because I’ve invested a lot of time and money in purchasing music from Apple since the launch of iTunes. To date, Apple has failed pretty miserably with updates to iTunes, most notably with Ping and iTunes Radio.
Those failures led me to be a subscriber of Spotify, Rdio, I Heart Radio, Beats and most recently a paid subscription to Pandora. I’ve been a subscriber to the rest of those services for about a year, so I have experience with all of them.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect much from Apple Music. I was not only pleasantly surprised when I started using it, I’m downright impressed.
Many of the problems I had before with iTunes Radio are completely gone. Selecting genres of music or even something like “70s Rock Hits” or “80s Metal” gives you exactly what you want—great music.
With the integration of Beats, you also get curated playlists and the ability to stream artists’ music, if you become a member of Apple Music. The selection went from not having much to choose from with iTunes Radio, to having so much great content from playlists and radio stations that I had to start saving them all so I could listen to them later.
That’s what I want from Apple Music.
I did my workout today to a new Apple playlist called “Workout Warriors,” which is part of the Hard Rock section of Apple Music. I was walking down the street playing air guitar to Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Guns ‘N Roses, and Motorhead. You know you’re enjoying the music when you start playing air guitar in public.
If you’re a Beats subscriber, you know all about the curated playlists. Genre experts from Beats put together lists of approximately 15-30 songs in a number of categories. For me and my musical tastes, they could be anything from “Metal Hits of the 80s” to “Intro to Guns ‘N Roses.”
Apple kept that part of Beats and incorporated it into the new service. As much as I love playlists, there is something special, exciting even, about not knowing what’s coming. I agree with Jimmy Iovine when he says, “the only song that’s as important as the one you’re listening to, is the one that comes next.” And Apple took care of that too.
With a mix of curation, or human intervention, and a revamped algorithm, Apple has brought their radio service to a level where it is exciting. The amount of work that went into making just the radio portion of Apple Music perform properly is astounding.
Of course, Apple Music Radio will still learn from your likes and dislikes—not even human intervention and algorithms can account for every taste in music. However, much more care went into the new stations, which are all handpicked songs, with an eye on the songs that come after the one you are listening to and how everything lines up.
One thing you won’t need to do anymore is tune a station to go from “Hits to Discovery.” Since all of the built-in stations feature handpicked songs, you can like them and see updated results in the “For You” section of Apple Music.
Using myself as an example: With iTunes Radio, I would listen to one or two songs, skip a few that I didn’t like, listen to one, skip a few more, and then I’d be out of skips and move on to one of the other services. To compare, with something like Pandora, I rarely skipped anything.
With Apple Music, which I’ve been listening to non-stop, out of 16 songs, I skipped one. That holds true for both playlists and radio—both are better. That’s a lot better than my previous experience with Apple’s service.
While other services offer the option to stream music at a higher quality, Apple said its service will automatically adjust the stream based on connection type and bandwidth.
I’m not really sure what to think about Connect, Apple’s service that allows us to follow bands and musicians. To me, it seems a lot like Ping, but we’ll have to see how it works.
Some artists are already updating their pages. There are a lot of places that we go to get artist updates these days, but it would be nice to have a central place to get everything.
The success of Connect lies with the musicians, not us. If they buy into the concept, people will follow them, and it will be successful.
Thankfully, the future of Apple Music doesn’t rely on Connect. Other services have the same type of “Follow” option for musicians, but I’m not sure if they are successful either. It’s something extra for users.
“For You” is another Beats feature—and one that I really like—that made it into Apple Music. Based on the music you like, the app comes up with recommendations for playlists and albums that you will like.
From my use, this is really accurate. The best is, you don’t have to do anything special to make it work—just use the app. It’s like an added bonus.
I look at “For You” in those times when I’m not sure what I want to listen to—it’s always full of ideas.
I have the “New” section of Apple Music set to “Metal” or “Rock.” It would be nice if I could choose multiple genres, so I wouldn’t have to switch back and forth, but for now, that’s what I’ll do.
That little nitpick aside, the “New” section gives you a look at new albums, hot tracks, recent releases, top songs, music videos, summertime playlists, new artist spotlight, and a current spotlight on 80s Thrash Metal. As you can tell, there’s a lot to see and listen to in this section.
Again, if you don’t know what you’re in the mood for, this will give you plenty of ideas. From some oldies to what’s hot right now, you can find it here.
I was shocked to find out that videos were included as part of Apple Music. Perhaps they mentioned that and I missed it, but I was listening to Godsmack and saw a video in my search—I clicked play and it worked. It also gave me recommendations for other videos in that genre.
Needless to say, I took a break and watched some videos.
“My Music” is a lot like the old iTunes, but with an Apple Music flair. All of the music you have previously purchased, whether in the cloud or on your device, will be found here.
There are two sections: Library and Playlists. The Playlist section can be further broken down into “All Playlists,” “My Playlists” or “Apple Music Playlists.”
When you select a playlist, you can choose to add it to My Music, so it will be available to you without doing another search. That will put it in Apple Music Playlists section. You can also choose to make the playlist available offline, which means that it will download that music to your device. This is handy if you’ll be somewhere without Wi-Fi or cell service, like on a plane or in Canada1.
Beats 1 Radio
Beats 1 wasn’t live while I was testing Apple Music, so I’ll get back to that at a later date.
There’s not a lot to write about in the “bad” section, but a couple of nitpicks did grab my attention.
When playing a radio station, there is a little star on the left side of the screen. If you tap the star, you have three choices: Play more like this; Play less like this; and Add to iTunes Wishlist.
Easy to understand, but it only works about 50 percent of the time. I tap the star and tap one of the selections and it does nothing. And odd little bug in the system that I’m sure can be fixed.
The other thing I would like to do is to be able to like a song after it’s already played. Pandora has a feature like that and I find it handy. The last thing I want to do is worry about liking a song when I’m cruising down the highway. I can see the history of what I played, but I have to play each song again in order to like it. Seems like an overlooked feature to me.
Liking is important because it helps the whole service know what I want to hear, so I want to keep up on it the best I can.
I’m damned impressed. Apple Music is a quality service, with the right mix of human curation and algorithms to help users figure out exactly what they want to hear.
I can only imagine that the service will get better from here. The more I use it, like/dislike songs, the better it will know me.
I was interacting with Apple Music the entire time I was writing this and the radio station I started listening to improved quite a bit in those hours. I’m not skipping songs, instead I have a steady diet of Slash, Godsmack, Led Zeppelin, and Metallica. It’s hard to beat that.
While other streaming services didn’t worry much about Apple in the past, Apple Music will get their attention. In fact, it’s going to grab everyone’s attention.
I joke Canada, I joke. ↩