Want to know how Apple beats Spotify? (No pun intended. Well maybe.)
Apple has never been first. But they’ve always been the best. They weren’t the first mp3 player. Or smartphone. Or tablet. But they made the best.
Everyone loves Spotify now because it’s the best streaming service on the market. College kids don’t know there are any other streaming services other than Spotify. It’s becoming the Kleenex of streaming.
But it could be so much better.
The data exists, Spotify has just chosen not to implement it.
One of the most annoying aspects of the digital revolution has been the exclusion of lyrics and liner notes.
It’s mind boggling that after all these years Apple hasn’t figured this out with iTunes. BandCamp has. Download a song on BandCamp and play it on your iPhone. The lyrics show up! Why doesn’t this happen when you download a song from iTunes?
Apple could fix this with their streaming service. If they keep Beats’ name, then their Applefied relaunch could include lyrics. How amazing a user experience would that be! All the world’s music… and lyrics! No more jumping back and forth between ad laden lyric sites.
And what about liner notes? Swipe right and the credits for that track appear. Swipe right again and there’s the album photography. Swipe right again and it’s the artist’s bio. Swipe right again, ALL tour dates AND TICKET LINKS. Swipe again, merch. Swipe again, Kickstarter, PledgeMusic or Patreon campaign. Want to win artists over? This would help!
And what about classical and jazz? Two incredibly neglected markets since the inception of digital downloads. And now streaming. I’d like to hear Rachmaninoff’s 3rd piano concerto. Is the artist Rachmaninoff? Well sure, that exists. But I want to hear Olga Kern play it. So she’s the artist and the song title is Piano concerto No 3? And the album is Rachmaninoff? But what if the album was a compilation of various concertos by different composers? How would I know that Piano Concerto No 3 was by Rachmaninoff? What if I want to hear all the different renditions of Rachmaninoff’s 3rd piano concerto? I get some results, but what if I want to hear the LA Phil play it? You can see the difficulty. It’s nearly impossible to narrow this with so many variables.
iTunes was built for pop. And Spotify tried to copy iTunes.
As for jazz? What if I want to hear John Coltrane’s original performance of So What? Impossible to discover which album it’s off of on Spotify or iTunes. (He plays on Miles Davis’ record Kind of Blue). This should not be this difficult. You really want to consider John Coltrane a “hired gun” on Kind of Blue? Unworthy of a credit? That’s not how jazz works!
Hell, it’s not how music works. I want to listen to every record my favorite drummer, Dave King, has ever played on. Currently the only way to do this is to Google around and find his most popular projects (The Bad Plus, Happy Apple, Halloween Alaska). But I wouldn’t find Mason Jennings from my Google search. Or Ari Herstand (yes, my favorite drummer played on my new record. What what!). But this information is listed in the credits of every album. The data (mostly) exists on AllMusic.com. Sync it up! Let me search in Spotify (and iTunes, Beats, Rdio, Amazon, Deezer, Rhapsody, YouTube Music Key, etc) “Dave King” and have every album he’s ever played on show up. Let me search “John Coltrane” and have every album he played on come up. Let me search “Butch Vig” and have every album he’s produced come up. Let me search “Manny Marroquin” and have all the albums he’s mixed show up. Let me see the credits! You can in AllMusic. So why isn’t this data synced up anywhere I can actually listen?
If Apple jumps on this it’s game over.
People thought the iPod would fail. They said there were too many mp3 players already in the market. I had a Creative Mp3 player back in the day. I remember why I switched to the iPod. It was simpler and so much better. Sleek and intuitive.
Can Apple do this with streaming? Will they? Maybe not now that Jobs is gone. They may have lost their touch.
Will Spotify continue to innovate? Continue to make their product better?
Forget the per-play rates to rights holders. I’m tired of talking about it. Yes, I wish the rates were higher. Yes, the money will increase when more users sign up. No, we’re never going back to CDs or digital downloads.
Whichever streaming service stops trying to one up the others with customized playlists or sleeker designs, but actually 10 ups the others, that’s who will win. I happily pay $10 a month for a Spotify subscription now. But if another service comes along and solves these issues. I’d switch in a heartbeat. And you would too.