In the past I have pitted Spotify against Google All Access, and while the Google offering was slightly cheaper, it had enough warts to drop it into second place. At that time, I mentioned that I looked forward to Apple’s offering, and would revisit when it was officially launched.
iTunes has long supported internet radio stations, but they were all third party, and of quite varied quality and availability. At first, I thought this was the offering of Apple, and I was disappointed (until I found the Live365 feeds at least).
With the launch of iTunes 11.1, and iOS 7, Apple has put out its own radio service. I have been using it pretty extensively since last Thursday (before I even updated my iPhone), and I am quite impressed.
There is no doubt that Apple has an amazing selection of music in their grasp. But could they do a good job defining stations and genres to tailor the music. I should add that I am not a demographic for top 40, or much of the pop/country/hip hop music. I am a guitar player, so my tastes tend to classic rock, blues based rock, some folk, and generous helpings of heavy metal.
One of the first “predefined” station is a “Beatles” station. ITMS has the Beatles, and Spotify doesn’t. I fired it up and enjoyed several hours of mid – late 60’s pop-ish, and deep cuts/covers and related tunes. Awesome.
I dove into creating my own stations. They have genres that make sense. In the “Metal” category, they have british, classic metal, progressive, and the harder stuff. All these sub genre’s are great.
In the blues, I have electric blues (Stevie Ray Vaughn, Buddy Guy, Gary Moore), and Delta Blues (Robert Johnson, and his ilk). Great stuff.
The selection, and the mixes have been awesome. I don’t think I have heard the same song twice in probably 20 hours of listening. (One area where Spotify could improve, is that you seem to get in a cycle and the same song can come up 2 times a day.)
A long time back, I was a Pandora user. I never subscribed to them, because if I wanted to listen to Gary Moore, I didn’t want a radio station based on Gary Moore. So I went to Spotify when it came to the US. But I always liked the Pandora stations. They seemed to have awesome algorithms to select music, and a deep playlist that went on forever. I believe, from what I have heard over the last 5 days, that Apple has come really close to this algorithms.
The best point? Since I am a iTunes Match customer, the radio is ad free. And free is better than $10 a month.
Yes, I see my monthly spend to Spotify going poof.