They Forgot About ‘Why’

Taking a look at the Android beta of “Apple Music”1 right now…  I think Simon Sinek might need a new example for his classic TED Talk.

The reused Beats Music ‘bubbles’ UI for selecting favorite genres and artists, while cool, is just as cramped and unintuitive as ever.  They would have been better served stealing the Tinder interaction.

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The most glaring failure is the lack of social playlists.  I know there are literally millions of people paying for Apple Music this very second, but I don’t understand how you release a streaming music app in 2016 that doesn’t let you search user playlists or see/play your friends’ playlists.

The app looks fine, but ‘pretty’ just isn’t enough when there are at least five other top-flight competitors.

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Microsoft’s Groove and Google’s Play Music both offer similar or better features, and Spotify kills it.  The only reason to even look at it, in my opinion, is if you have a huge catalog of music you’ve purchased in iTunes.  Even then, they kick you in the nuts, as it appears you need to be a paid subscriber to have access to your purchased music on Android.

Their ‘Connect’ could be the ‘Next Big Thing’, but as it is, it’s basically just a tool for artists to promote their work.  It’s not really a step up from following your favorite artists on Twitter and Instagram.2  If they were to dump some serious money into it- say, turning it into a full-blown self-publishing gateway, and do for artists what they did for app developers in terms of stripping away the gatekeepers and putting creators in direct contact with consumers, well, they might have that game-changer that would eventually make Apple Music a place to be rather than just a streaming service.

Also, they seem to not know it yet, but they have a real show-stealer in Beats 1, their live radio station with real human DJs. There is an existing market for live radio with no commercials-SiriusXM has ~30 million subscribers- more than the top two streaming music services combined.  Bringing that live feel to the streaming generation- real ‘radio’, but over the internet- could be huge for them.

It could also be the first step into the next generation of media, where audio and video are both primarily delivered over the internet. Combine that with the above ideas of where they should be going with ‘Connect’, and you begin to see what could be a media empire in twenty years, combining the best aspects of Spotify and Netflix with the best aspects of broadcast radio and TV.3

Apple Music, more than anything else they’ve done since Steve Jobs passed, tries to get by with what it does:  “Remember iTunes?  What if it streamed music, like Spotify, Google Play, Rdio, Groove Music, Pandora, etc?  Look at these features we’re offering!”.

They could have led with why:  “We believe that music is more important than record labels, discs, or files.  Come see how we plan to change the way you consume music!”

Their marketing rarely fails like this.  I hope, for their sake, that the marketing isn’t just reflecting a change inside the walls.  From now until their next launch, I guess we’ll see if you can evolve from a ‘what’ to a ‘why’, or if they’re even going to try.

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