Apple Music Still Feels Like a Beta Test

Apple Music Still Feels Like a Beta Test

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Record producer Jimmy Iovine speaks at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California June 8, 2015. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (Newscom TagID: rtrlseven104177.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]

Apple Music’s free trial period just ended. The company won’t say how many subscribers it’s got, and it won’t extend the free offer; the rights-holders won’t allow that. (Those who haven’t yet tried out the service still qualify for the three-month trial, gratis, but more on that, later.)

So what have we learned?

Apple was afraid of being late, and it launched a beta product.

But the truth is, it’s still early. And an opportunity was blown.

Apple was never going to be first. YouTube owns free music streaming, and Spotify owns paid music streaming, though most people are not paying. It’s hard to say whether they’ll ever pay, be it to Google/YouTube, Spotify or Apple. But there is a first-mover advantage. And if you’re not first, you’d better get it right. That was the essence of the iPod. But not Apple Music.

Instead of launching a cutting-edge music service, Apple was so busy trying to involve the rear-guard that it ended up with a platform that pleased nobody: Apple Music ain’t good for streaming, and it ain’t good for files. Pick a lane.

How could the company get it so wrong?

It’s so hard to start anything these days — there’s so much noise — that you’ve got to double down, be innovative, and entice people. Connect is an antiquated concept that is not only unnecessary, the acts didn’t adopt it and neither did the listeners.

Moreover, the service itself is hard to use. Apple is just now putting out how-to videos, the kind that it should have had when Apple Music debuted. It was like launching the Mac without a manual.

And now, the 90 days are up, and I’m not paying.

First impressions