On the launch of Apple Music

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.