Apple just killed Spotify's business on iOS.
Spotify may keep its current 20 million users around, and it'll have room to grow on Android, but on the iPhone? Forget it.
Here's the first reason why.
If you have an iPhone or iPad, and you update it to the latest version of iOS, you will see this new icon in place of the old orange and white music icon:
When you click on it, you will be presented with this option:
Assuming you've bought anything from Apple recently--an app, a song, a TV show, whatever--you will be able to sign up for the trial without entering your name, a credit card, or any other information. All you need is your Apple ID and password. That's it.
Spotify and other services are easy to start using. But they still require you to download the app and enter information about yourself. If you were ever the least bit hesitant about paying $10 a month for music, that process gives you lots of time to reconsider it and think about how else you might like to spend that money.
Of course, once Apple gets you, they have to keep you past the three-month trial period.
But I've been using Apple Music since yesterday, and I think this will be easy.
Why Apple Music is great
Before we go any further, I have a confession. If you're not all that into music, you can probably stop reading this post here and just take my word for it that Apple Music is great.
Because I'm way beyond a music nut. I'm a music bore.
I was a DJ in college. I played in bands for years. I have about 700 records (which is actually small in collectors' circles). I took 40 CDs and a Discman with me on a six-month backpacking trip in 1999. A couple weeks ago, a colleague and I discovered we had similar tastes, and a quick hallway conversation turned into an half-hour discourse on Led Zeppelin setlists from the 1970s.
More to the point, I covered digital music from 2004 through 2010. I tried every music service that was out there, including Spotify when it was confined to Europe (there was a VPN-based log-in for US reviewers), and the ill-fated Microsoft Zune Pass, which was actually a great service but only worked with a device nobody bought.
None of them stuck. I buy records all the time. My music collection is already pretty huge. It just seemed wasteful to spend another $10 a month just so I could occasionally scratch an itch to hear some song that was stuck in my head. If I really wanted the song, I'd just pay $1 and buy it.
So I was fully prepared to dismiss Apple Music, especially after reading reviews that complained it was kind of complicated and hard to use. There seemed to be way too much emphasis on the Beats 1 radio station, which I figured would play a bunch of British electronically tinged hipster music that I wasn't going to like.
I was totally wrong. Because Apple Music's approach of curated song lists is amazing.
It starts by asking you what types of music and which artists you like:
And then it starts offering you choices. The choices are way too accurate to be defined just by that first music selection process--I suspect Apple is also looking at my personal collection and ratings and making some good guesses based on that. Like this playlist of Modest Mouse influences:
Like Lisa Eadicicco wrote yesterday, it felt like Apple Music really knew me after only a couple hours.
But here's what really got me. This morning I drove, as I always do, over the hill from my house to the train station. Normally, I don't bother plugging my phone into the stereo because the drive is only about five minutes long, and I've already heard all my songs so many times that I can't imagine which one I'd want to listen to again.
But today, I figured I'd give Apple Music a chance to play me a great song by one of my favorite old bands, the Kinks.
The song it picked? "Victoria."
Which happens to be my favorite Kinks song that I don't own. ("Waterloo Sunset" is a close second, and probably a better song, but "Victoria" is an earworm and gets stuck in my head a lot for some reason.)
It was exactly the right song for my five-minute drive.
I have no idea if Spotify has something like this because I've never taken the trouble to set up a Spotify account on my phone, and I haven't tried the web version since about 2012, when it was free on Facebook for a while. But Apple Music got me in and then it hooked me.
More important--and this is probably why Apple spent so much effort getting Apple Music right--I'm excited to listen to music on my phone for the first time in years. I'm looking forward to getting my car the next time so I can see what new music outside my collection Apple Music picks for me.
That's worth $10 a month.