Thoughts on Apple’s acquisition of Beats

by chris on May 28, 2014

Beats Music is really no different than Pandora, Spotify, Rdio. Sure they all have their own recommendation methods but in the end they are quite similar.

None of them has done anything groundbreaking.

Pandora has a rather limited library and has been living off of its Genome Project since its inception.

Spotify’s apps are interesting but make it cluttered and the UI is a bit of a mess. (Just how many ‘apps’ do we need for individual artists? Here’s a clue – ZERO) Its recommendation service and UI is rather disappointing. Maybe the EchoNest acquisition will help but they still need to implement it successfully into the already goofy UI, and that alone isn’t grand enough.

Beats Music seems to be hanging its hat on curated playlists. I see this as a smokescreen, or at least I hope it is. I hope that Apple and Beats Music aren’t putting that many eggs in the curated playlists basket. It doesn’t seem very innovative. Tonight during the Code Conference interview session Apple’s Eddie Cue and Beats’ Jimmy Iovine stated,

“We think that streaming services need curation. The album is going away. We all know that. The sequencing of an album used to be important. You need an hour’s worth of music. Some of the other services are just based on algorithms. That doesn’t work. Kids listen to programmed radio, and it doesn’t work. We wanted to fix that.”

Just how is Beats Music’s version of curated playlists really that much different than Spotify’s? Because they are created by ‘industry experts’? Spotify’s version is close enough, if not the same. There are celebrity and industry expert playlist on Spotify too. Here is an interview with Beats Music’s CEO Ian Rogers.

Check out some of these curated playlist on Spotify. There are thousands of them:
@indiesongaday – 1 song per artist
@indiesongaday – indie rock – best of 2013
@indiesongaday – indie rock for running

They all fail to create a whole package that is automatic, intuitive, AND complete. (I won’t go into what I think that encompasses here but would be happy to discuss further) Let me just say that they aren’t as successful with recommendations, education, notifications, and user effort/input as they should be at this juncture.

I don’t think Iovine and Dre understand that aspect of it either and I can’t believe Apple is making this deal for the headphone tech. I’d be shocked if Beats Music has a v3.0 waiting in the wings that will be substantially different than the current version which is rather lackluster.

Music technology has been treading water for almost a decade now, and that includes today’s release of Beats Music 2.1. All of these companies are leaving features on the table that I feel could really upset the industry.

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