Beats Music, the subscription music service from Beats Electronics, is finally live. Like Spotify, Rhapsody, and Rdio before it, Beats Music is an on-demand streaming service that provides subscribers access to a library of millions of tracks, covering just about any musical genre you can imagine. These are my first impressions after spending a little time with the mobile app and site.
Getting to know you
From the get go, it's clear that Beats wants to learn your musical tastes so that it can serve up the music you'll love. During the sign up process, you're presented with an animated series of bubbles, each bearing a different genre. You're asked to tap on the genres you like and tap-and-hold on those you don't. The are 20 genres in all including the ones you'd expect — Alternative, Country, Latin, Pop, Dance, Classical/Opera, Jazz, Rap/Hip-Hop, Classic Rock, Metal, World, and Folk/Blues.
You're then presented with a similar group of bubbles that display artists' names, based on the genres you just chose. Tap on three artists you love and press and hold on those you hate. You can also tap on a More Artists button to feed in a new set of bubbles. Tap Finish when you're ready to move on.
Exploring the interface
The purpose of this early and amusing exercise is to get a broad idea of how to populate the Just For You screen, the first thing you see when you're logged on. For some it may be spot on, but after entering Neil Young, Curtis Mayfield, and Al Green as three favored artists I longed for a do-over. Young's "Tonight's The Night" — a low point in Young's career as far as I'm concerned — appeared as a recommendation. I also saw listings for the Best of 70s Soul Vol 3, a solid Al Green album, Soul Hits 1971, Marvin Gaye Message Songs, The Cars, Robert Palmer, and Brotherhood albums.
Thankfully you have far more ways to explore music than this screen. On an iOS device just swipe to the left to get to The Sentence. This is where you complete the sentence "I'm ___ and feel like ___ with ___ to ___." For me, it defaulted to "I'm on the subway and feel like making bad choices with my entourage to pop latino." Just tap the suggestions to choose a different option and when you're ready, tap on Play the Sentence. The resulting music is based not just on the choices you've made but also your original genre and artist choices. So, if you've chosen modern genres and artists, no matter how you've completed The Sentence, you're not going to get a load of recordings made famous by Bing Crosby and The Shirelles.
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