Dave Mark: Why I’m not done with Apple Music

A few days ago, Jim wrote about his nightmarish experience with Apple Music. I do understand his frustration. But I’m not ready to give up on Apple Music just yet.

To be clear, I haven’t run into the exact same issues as Jim (my library still appears to be in one uncorrupted piece, no files appear to be missing). But I do see plenty of problems with the current Apple Music incarnation.

My Mac and iOS devices might as well be on different planets. When I search for a song on my iPhone, I can tap the Apple Music tab and, assuming the song is available on the Apple Music library, I can add the song to my current playlist, download it to my device for offline play, and mark it with a For You heart. Easy peasy.

On my Mac, not so simple. Unlike the iOS universe, there is no Apple Music application on my Mac. On my iOS device, things are clear cut. There’s the iTunes Store app for buying music and the Apple Music app for streaming.

On my Mac, however, there’s iTunes. Only iTunes. iTunes for buying music, just as it always was. And iTunes for streaming. But merged together, interleaved, with no clear dividing line between streaming and purchasing. That dividing line exists, true, but it is mushy, vague, unclear.

As an example, fire up iTunes and click the music note icon towards the upper left corner to focus on music. Next, click in the search field (upper right corner). Chance are, you’ll see a popup window appear with tabs for My Library and iTunes Store. If you find a song in the iTunes Store that you like, how do you go about adding it to your playlist? Turns out, you can’t.

To get to Apple Music, you have to click on For You (Maybe there’s a simpler way to get there, but I haven’t stumbled across it). Once you click For You, a click in the same search field shows tabs for My Library and Apple Music. Yeesh. There’s no way to buy a song you find in Apple Music and (much more importantly for me) no way for me to find a song from the front page of the iTunes Store in Apple Music. Crazy town.

[Update: As Kirk McElhearn points out, there is a link back to the iTunes Store in the “…” menu to the right of a song in Apple Music. But no direct link from a song in the iTunes Store (and its rich front page of New Music and Hot Tracks) back to that song in Apple Music.]

This is just one scenario. There are lots more. Why isn’t there an editable history of my likes? How about a playlist built from all the songs I’ve listened to? How about a searchable list of playlists, something I can browse through that is organized by genre? Some of these things may well exist, but the interface is so complex, so scattered, I’ve not yet stumbled upon it.

So all this said, why am I still pushing on? Why don’t I make the move to Spotify?

It’s all about potential.

Even with all its blemishes, Apple Music has been a hell of a lot of fun. I now have access to, arguably, one of the largest music databases on the planet. I am listening to lots of new music, exploring genres I’ve never gotten into before, digging into some old favorites that bring me pangs of nostalgia and, overall, just listening to lots more music than I’ve listened to in quite some time.

All of the things I’ve complained about, and all the stuff Jim complained about in his post, are all eminently fixable. More importantly, the building blocks are in place for the next generation of Apple Music to do some incredible things.

I can tell you one thing for sure: I have backed up my music collection very carefully. Thanks for that warning, Jim. Sorry you had to pay the price for that knowledge.