For some reason, Apple Music is something that is rarely mentioned (or even used) by the music-lovers of 2017.
In comparison, the ‘de facto’ app which has found a home in the phones and computers of many Singaporeans will more than likely be Spotify.
But since I’m always on the lookout for alternatives, I wanted to see if there’s indeed nothing else that comes close.
What It’s Like On Apple Music
If you know music, you will know Apple.
The iPod made listening to music on-the-go cool, and backing it up was the iTunes store. Today, it is the iPhone which has taken up that mantle, and in 2015, Apple Music came to be.
Now in 2017, I decided to use the app that no one seems to be talking about. Like most people, I thought the Music app on my iPhone was merely the “default music player” for anything I downloaded off iTunes – I was wrong.
While you can still use iTunes to purchase tracks and albums from your favourite artists, Apple Music takes it a step further – it is a subscription-based service that lets you play and download from the entire iTunes library, and that’s more than 30 million songs.
The setup process is pretty much the same here as with any other music service, but for Apple Music, you can actually try it out for a full 3 months before deciding to pay for it – $9.98 for a single account, or $14.98 for a family account for six.
During the setup process, the thing that will shape your initial music selection are these red bubbles. First, you’ll be asked for your favourite genres, and in the next screen, your favourite artists.
After this setup, your Apple Music account is pretty much good to go.
The brighter (and whiter) interface comes as one of the great changes when using Apple Music. The dark backgrounds and bright album arts on the other music service can sometimes be a tad glaring and tiring after a while.
How It’s Like Using It
Regardless of which tab and section you go into, the artists are the focus.
Album art is literally everywhere, and it’s a rare occurrence to be greeted with a page that is filled with only text.
The ability to download individual songs is also something that I greatly appreciate.
No longer will I have to take the extra step of adding it into a playlist first or download entire albums. Adding songs from my phone or laptop into my library will automatically sync them across all of my devices.
I am someone who doesn’t use playlists, and more often than not, will just shuffle between all available downloaded songs. That, or my other favourite feature of Apple Music – Beats 1 Radio.
As we move into digital music, we find ourselves phasing out FM Radio. Well, that’s unless you own a car in Singapore and want to know the traffic conditions of major places.
The ability to just tune into curated radio broadcasts, leaving them on and forgetting about it as you listen to sounds from around the world is to me, one of the best ways of exposing yourself to some ‘exotic’ music that you otherwise will not have discovered.
Anchored by the likes of Zane Lowe, Ebro Darden, and Julie Adenuga, Beats 1 Radio gives digital music streaming an extra human touch.
Connecting Artists & Empowering Local Acts
One difference between Apple Music and Spotify though is the former’s lack of social media integration within the app. If you are the type who likes showing your friends what music you’re listening to all the time, then this could be a deal breaker.
Besides, a sidebar with all your friend’s activities on the desktop can get a tad annoying.
Apple Music is going down another route – to let you Connect with the artists you are listening to.
The Connect section is where you can catch up on the latest happenings, releases, and videos of the artists you are following, and also interact with them.
Perhaps the biggest difference for me is that in Apple Music, local artists will always be in one of the recommended tracks and albums. I have never gone a day where I was not recommended a track from a Singaporean artist.
From Disco Hue’s latest song, Plastic Hearts featuring Akeem Jahat, to Tabitha Nauser’s newest single, Bulletproof, Singapore artists are well-represented in Apple Music among all the international acts.
Should You Get Apple Music?
If we were to get down to technical details, the quality of music from both Apple Music and Spotify Premium are virtually indistinguishable.
Other than that, if you are deep into the Apple ecosystem with an iPhone, iPad, and Macbook, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be using it, as Apple Music has been fully optimised for your hardware.
However, I am not one of those people.
Yes, I do have an iPhone, but my computing device of choice is a Windows machine – but that didn’t stop me from using Apple Music, either.
In fact, using the service on my secondary Android phone yields a largely similar experience to my iPhone, and the minor feature differences do not detract me from the overall music experience.
If you are student in Singapore, you can even enjoy Apple Music at half price, so no excuses there.
Ultimately, you have to decide between using an all-too-familiar service that you have to install each time, or one that’s already there all along, but you totally missed out on.