Beats Music launched today for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and the desktop. The experience is similarly good across all platforms, but does it warrant a $9.99/month pricetag? It’s competitively priced, and promises a lot, but we wanted to know if it could compete with incumbent services, so we went hands-on with it to find out.
Oddly, the service was easier to find via the website than on the Play Store for our Android experience. Once downloaded, we simply used a Facebook account to get rolling. It initially prompts you to feed it some info, like which artists and genres you like. It takes that data and feeds you suggestions under the “Just for you” heading, which is front and center when you open the app. It’s a little straightforward, which either speaks to Beats’ design to feed you precisely what you want, or a limited catalog. They boast of 20 million tracks, but that’s not a lot when you consider the scope of music in general.
“The Sentence” is perhaps Beats’ most unique and distinct function, and one that’s growing on us. Slide to the right from “Just for you”, and you’re met with a mad-libs screen, in which you fill in some blanks. It asks where you are, what you want to do, and who you want to do it with -- oh yeah, and what kind of music you want to listen to while doing so. It’s fun, and offers a really different way to discover tracks. Like a lot of things Beats, it almost straddles the line between music service and social media. We felt more like we were posting a status update or tweeting our day than searching for music. The same goes for finding artists, wherein you “follow” them to get new music suggestions, a break from adding albums and such.
Beats Music also has the “featured” and “find” you’ll see on any other music service, so those aren’t worth mention. the interface is unique, but perhaps a little restrictive. We didn’t get the feeling that we were supposed to venture outside of Beats’ recommendations, but that’s really just a commentary on the interface. We did find ourselves wanting when searching for more obscure tracks and artists, but unless you have some off the wall taste, you’ll likely find what you need with Beats Music.
The real question is the obvious one: will this get us away from our current music service? That’s not likely. Though competitively priced, and good, Beats Music isn’t compelling enough to get us away from Play Music, our go-to. It’s solid, and we really like the interface, but it’s not going to get our money. Play Music straddles a line between iTunes and streaming radio services, which we like. Beats is more a Spotify competitor, and with that, it comes down to library offerings.
Beats does offer a free week trial, so if you’re curious, check it out. It’s unique, and fun, but really subjective. AT&T is offering a Beats family plan, wherein you can get up to 5 lines access for $14.99/month, too. Beats is a decent music streaming app at a good price, but may not offer enough to get you to switch just yet.