The basic premise of Beats Music, which officially launched today, is that it’s the same as its many competitors‑‑see Spotify, Rhapsody, Slacker, Rdio, Sony Music Unlimited, Xbox Music, Muve, Google Music and, likely later this year, Deezer and YouTube– it’s a subscription service of a large on-demand catalog of music.
But Beats operates like a cross between your friends’ meticulously organized iTunes library, a Songza-like custom playlists, and as CEO Ian Rogers put it in an interview with Billboard.biz, “the endcaps at Amoeba Records with the staff picks”. The concept is compelling, but the interface isn’t simple or intuitive enough for the mainstream consumer the company plans to target. The service launched in the app store early this morning. After playing around with it for most of the day, here are the hits and misses:
1. It’s Organized
No scrolling through a feed of live albums and compilations to get to what you want to find. Artist catalogs are divided by albums, EPs, singles, compilations and tracks. Each vertical is easy to sort by date, popularity or alphabetically. Also, the album dates appear to mostly be accurate (looking at you Spotify). Remastered albums show the original year of release. The artist’s landing page shows the latest release, top songs, what Beats has deemed to be “essential” albums, original playlists and similar artists. Plus, no weird karaoke versions (again, cough, Spotify).