I am your future. Well, at least, I’m the future you hope Apple Music has. I am a paying streaming music customer. I paid $9.99 a month for a Beats Music subscription. I paid even before you owned Beats Music. I paid when Beats Music was still something called Mog. The future of Apple Music depends on convincing a lot more people to believe what I believe: Streaming is the best way to listen to music on my phone.
But right now, Apple, you’re doing me wrong.
Apple, where is my music? You know, the stuff I was paying for?
You booted me off Beats with the promise my music would follow me. You know, my music: all the songs, albums, artists, and playlists I’ve spent the past months and years slowly, painstakingly assembling—the part of streaming music that makes it personal. The part I’m paying for. And I can’t find it.
I more than happily went along with you this morning when I updated Beats and was prompted to make the Apple Music switch. Sure, there was Touch ID weirdness. And iCloud weirdness. I can handle that. This isn’t my first time at the Apple rodeo.
But Apple: Where is my music?
Making Nothing Happen
When I open the app, what do I see? Prominently featured: the handful of songs I’ve ever bought from iTunes for various random reasons but never listen to. Plus the U2 album I’ve never figured out how to delete. Funny thing: Because I’ve been a paying streaming customer for years, I don’t pay a la carte to download music! Therefore, you really can’t tell much of anything about my musical tastes based on what I’ve downloaded from iTunes! Oh, but Apple Music, you try!
Right now the people who were already paying you seem like the people you care about the least.
Now I’ve deleted those distractions, and I’m ready to find my music. As in, the extensive library of stuff I actually listen to and care about. The stuff that I’ve curated in Beats, and before that Mog, since I’ve been a paying streaming customer. I don’t mean to brag, but I think I figured out relatively early that this is how we “collect” music now in the era of streaming: Instead of racks of CDs or hard drives full of MP3s, we have collections of bookmarks. And in Apple Music, I can’t find mine.
Oh, sure, buried somewhere in my account settings is a list of artists I’m “following.” These appear to roughy correspond to the musicians whose albums and songs I carefully amassed in my Beats Music library. But what happens when I tap on them? Does music play? Do I go to their artist pages? No. When I tap on them, here’s what happens: nothing.
Right There Waiting for Me
It’s kind of like if you came into my apartment in the late 1990s and dumped all my CDs in a locked plexiglass box. It’s not a perfect metaphor, but so far, this transition has been a far from perfect user experience. All you really needed to do was find a way to bring my music library over from Beats. Just a little design cue that told me all the music I’d spent my time finding and keeping was still there waiting for me. And then, you know, actually have it there waiting for me.
See, I’m the kind of customer you love the most: the lazy Apple customer. I really would rather just use your stuff. I’m not the kind of empowered consumer who’s ready to storm off to Spotify in a huff, just like I’m not seriously weighing whether my next phone should run Android. I’d have to rebuild my library on Spotify from scratch anyway.
But this whole Apple Music thing only works if you get people to pay. And right now the people who were already paying you seem like the people you care about the least.
Digging in the docs, I find what apparently you considered a good-enough answer to the few early-adopter whiners who might actually care enough to ask. “Your recommendations and music library move to Apple Music in the background,” you say. “If you don’t see all of your moved content in Apple Music after 24 hours, contact Apple Support.” Really? That’s the best you can do with $160 billion in cash? If that’s really not enough, I’d happily give you an extra dollar.