Beats Music: The Pros & Cons of the New Service

The Beats experience has officially become more than just about headwear. The headphones giant, backed by industry heavyweights Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine of Interscope, is now the latest in a crowded field of music streaming applications to hit mobile devices. Beats Music is a new take on an old idea (relatively speaking): an app that gives users the opportunity to discover new music based on their mood or favorite genres.

Like Spotify, Rdio, & Rhapsody, Beats Music relies heavily on playlists. Unlike the aforementioned services, however, Beats creates these playlists based on a combination of algorithmic and human curation. Trent Reznor, of Nine Inch Nails, is serving as Chief Creative Officer of the service, and many of the playlists themselves are cultivated by artists, magazines, and other contributors.

While, on the surface, the Beats Music service might sound like ‘more of the same’, there are features (and costs) associated that do separate it from the pack, albeit slightly in some areas. Before you decide to drop $10 a month on a subscription, check out some of the pros & cons of Beats Music below.

Beats Music: Pros

For starters, Trent Reznor as CCO! It’s exciting to me, at least, that a person of Reznor’s, let’s say, “particularity”, would be in full-on support mode for a new streaming music service. And the fact that the NIN frontman supposedly has a hand in the curation of playlists could be a minor selling point, if not just a great marketing ploy.

When you first open the app, you’ll notice a screen called the Just for You tab, and an input-style form appropriately named “The Sentence”. This unique playlist designer allows users to fill-in-the-blanks, Madlibs-style, to set their location, mood, and desired music preference. With sentences like “I am at my gym & feel like rocking out with my puppy to glam rock, well, you can imagine the interesting choices that will come up. This certainly offers an advantage over Pandora, which creates playlist based on a song or artist selection, and even other streaming services that deliver playlists on genre alone. You can help customize the playlist by tapping “like”, “love”, or “hate” on each selection, and share your “sentences” with friends on Facebook & Twitter. 

As of launch, Beats Music offers a 20 million-plus song catalog, but expect that to grow if/when the service gains momentum. The biggest advantage Beats Music has right from the start is capital; Beats headphones have built up quite the following, and sales have been increasing year-over-year, so only most start-ups, Beats Music won’t be under too much pressure to turn a profit right from the gate. And, as we’ve seen from their extensive media blitz on headphones, they aren’t afraid to spend marketing dollars, either.

Cons

There is no “freemium” model for Beats Music. There’s a 7-day free trail offered by the company; but, then, it’s either drop the $10, or be cut off. Quite honestly, I feel that price is a little steep, especially compared to other music streaming services. And without even the option of an ad-supported model, it isn’t giving users a lot of time to try out the service before a decision needs to be made.

Currently, the interface is a little clunky, and there is stability issues; given it’s the first release, that’s understandable– but, is still something to consider when early adopters will only be given a week to decide whether to pony-up for a subscription.

Finally, the 20 million song library is great– but, suffers from a lack of depth. Many newer artists & albums are available, but try to go past the early 80’s, and you’ll discover some gaping holes. Younger Beats Music subscribers might not take notice, just yet; but it’s bound to turn off an older crowd already used to getting their classic tunes on other services.

 Verdict

Personally, I won’t be spending $120/year on Beats Music as of now. I think it’s a cool idea, and I’d be willing to switch over from Spotify if an ad-supported model was available. But, honestly, I don’t see any competitive advantage that is appealing enough to me to warrant spending money on something I’m already getting for free. They’re gonna need a little bit more than Dre & Reznor to pull this guy in.

What about you? Anyone out there subscribing already? What are your thoughts on Beats Music? Share some below!

 

 

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