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Beats Music: Content Curation Done Right…

The much-hyped day has come and gone, Beats Music is here.

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Beats Music has launched on the web, iOS, and Android.  The Windows app won’t be available until Friday, January 24th.  Here’s a run-down of the Beats iOS and web experience. If there’s any notable difference on the Windows app we’ll update you as it becomes available.

There was understandably a huge load of traffic on launch day.  The app and website were lagging. It was a few hours before I was able to properly log in without getting booted.  I had to run through the beginning steps a few times and the app still shuts down when I do too much too quickly.  Time and updates should fix these problems.

 

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Beats differs from other services right at the start.  After your login is set up, Beats wants to get to know you. It asks which genres you love and which ones you hate. Then it gives you a selection of artists.  Again, you pick the ones you like and delete the ones you hate.

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A “Just For You” home screen is created using info from entered likes and dislikes.  Recommendations will change over time using info from listening habits.

Beats solves the “what to listen to” problem by bombarding you with relevant content.

 

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This content is curated by Beats and a wide range of tastemakers, including KROQ, Thrasher Magazine, Pitchfork, and many others.

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There are a massive amount of curated playlists.  There are literally 30 “Getting Ready to Go Out” playlists…that’s right… 30.  It sounds ridiculous at first, but if you participate in the young adult ritual of partying while getting ready to go party then you’ll need 30 “Getting Ready to Go Out” playlists… and then there’s 30 more “Getting Pumped” playlists for the pre-party.

Beats does away with computer-generated playlists based on songs or artists.  This is unfortunate if you want to listen to similar songs without digging around for the perfect playlist (although I imagine team Beats would tell me to go listen to Pandora or iTunes Radio if I want an auto-generated playlist so bad.)

Beats playlists dig deep into musical genres.  The people who put them together are obviously well-versed in their respective genres.  There are mixes put together by Justice and Basement Jaxx, “Best of Riot Grrrl”, and “Best of Hindustani Classical” to name a few.  This selection is indicative of high quality content overall.

Beats doesn’t just load crap into their library so they can say they have the most songs.

Yet with a catalogue of 20 million songs, Beats is comparable to most major streaming services.

Basically, this is a music nerd’s dream service.  There’s some great music that I haven’t been able to find on Spotify.

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Beats will auto-generate a station based on mad-libs style sentence: “I’M ____ & FEEL LIKE ____ WITH ____ TO ____”. So far I’ve had success with this feature.

 

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Tracks and playlists can be shared on Facebook, Twitter, or with followers on Beats. It’s easy to follow artists and curators, but as of now there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to follow friends or people from social networks.

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The web version of Beats is less focused on suggesting playlists for every situation that might arise on the go.  It has relevant suggestions on the homepage, a search, and access to playlists:

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Beats has an exciting approach.  Most other services feel like The Echo Nest in disguise and branded as something new.  I’m not yet ready to permanently give up Spotify (which has tethered my listening experience to Facebook), but I’d commit to Beats if a social friend-finder and Last.fm integration were added.  Personal library syncing would also be a nice touch.

This isn’t your mom’s streaming service. Cool graphics and hip content are obviously targeting younger people. However, Beats curation has pretty much all genres covered. Both your mom and your friend that only listens to top 40 will be served music they know and love… and they might even discover something new in the process.

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Comments (75)
  1. jw

    Windows Mobile was the precursor to Windows Phone, & hasn’t been updated in 4 years. It’s the Windows Phone app that comes out Friday.

    Pretty bummed about the delay. Can’t wait to use this service.


    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Don’t you think it’s a bit lame to pay people to tell you what you like?

      I’d rather pay the artist.


      Reply
      1. Nina Ulloa

        it’s about as lame as eating at a restaurant or shopping at a store


        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          You also pay people to tell you what to buy when you’re shopping? I mean, clothes and stuff?

          How does that work for you?


          Reply
          1. Nina Ulloa

            the point of a clothing store is to influence you through product placement and merchandising, whether you realize it or not. if you can get in and out without being influenced, good for you.

            if you can go into a music service without being influenced, good for you.


            Reply
            1. Anonymous

              “good for you.”

              If you say so.


              Reply
              1. FarePlay

                I’m with Nina on this, besides who really needs mean spirited attitudes anyway, life’s short, stand in the ligh


                Reply
                1. Anonymous

                  Streaming is evil and harmful for artists. We don’t need more articles promoting streaming services here.


                  Reply
                  1. GGG

                    False. Streaming has the ability to be one of the best thing that ever happens to artists. It’s just not there yet.


                    Reply
                    1. Anonymous

                      “Streaming has the ability to be one of the best thing that ever happens to artists. It’s just not there yet.”

                      Like cold fusion, quantum computers and the cure for cancer.

                      Maybe some day — maybe not.


                  2. Anonymous

                    “Streaming is evil”

                    Nonsense, this is not about good and evil.

                    But a streaming service based on hate for music is silly. When was the last time your friends mailed you about a song they hated? People don’t do that. They tell you about songs they like.

                    Goes for all kinds of other stuff, too. Facebook is based on Likes — not Hates.


                    Reply
                    1. Nina Ulloa

                      rebecca black


                    2. Anonymous

                      I wasn’t asking you Nina, we know you hate musicians. What we don’t know is why…


                  3. FarePlay

                    As so often happens, this conversation went sideways. I was holding my breath that Beats Music wasn’t going to use total music access as part of their marketing strategy and I’ve been holding my comment on that aspect until I learned more about their service.

                    The bottom line. Far fewer Musicians and songwriters will be able to commit themselves to music unless they are supported by the sale of recorded music. Jimmy Iovine should know better. He’s in the business and knows the reality. Had Beats chosen not to endorse total access, they would have gained valuable artist support. Why is this important? At some point artists will need to restrict the distribution of their music, as we have seen with windowing, and own their own distribution services.

                    While the choice Beats Music made doesn’t surprise me, it does disappoint.

                    There, I kept silent for one day.


                    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    “Tap twice on the genres you love, press and hold on the ones you hate.”

    Can you hate a genre? Really? What does it feel like? You wanna hit it?

    I’ll bet you can find awesome life-changing tunes in any genre you think you hate.

    Such lame, wow.


    Reply
    1. Hack Musician

      So far, the ability to “hate” a genre is the BEST thing about Beats for me. A service that promises to NEVER play me any hip-hop, rap, or dance/electronica, is potentially appealing. Your mileage may vary.

      If only there was a genre called “music played by computers instead of musicians”. That would make it much simpler.


      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        It’s beyond me how anybody can defend a music service based on hate for… music.

        You can find masterpieces in all genres.


        Reply
  3. Pete

    20 million tracks means they DO have crap in their database
    Anyone working in the industry knows that!


    Reply
    1. Jeff Robinson

      Yeah, but perhaps all those tracks that sit idle on iTunes will get automated spins here with the Beats/Music Genome rip-off.


      Reply
  4. David

    So what are the things you can’t find on Spotify? Immediately after that claim there is a screenshot of ‘Wildest Moments’ by Jessie Ware. It took me 10 seconds to find this on Spotify: search for ‘Jessie Ware’ then go to ‘artist’s profile’, where Wildest Moments is the most popular song listed.


    Reply
    1. David Basskin

      Significant gaps in classical and jazz.


      Reply
  5. An Indie

    Damn. People love to hate. LOL. Thanks for the detailed review, Nina.


    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Nah, haters love to hate. People love to love.

      And a music service based on hate isn’t appealling.


      Reply
      1. An Indie

        @Anonymous – true! :-) I was really speaking about the first few people whose comments were mostly just jabs at Nina. My reaction was an attempt at articulating that I appreciated her review (and have appreciated the others from commenters including yours about a music service built on hating a genre).


        Reply
      2. Me

        Technically, haters hate to hate.


        Reply
        1. Jeff Robinson

          Wow, I bet that lyric sounds AMAZING in Beats Headphones…


          Reply
  6. Yep

    These filters absolutely bemuse me! I don’t just like ‘RnB’ and hate ‘Metal’ – what the hell do those genres mean anyway?

    That’s why Spotify is so great. It’s just a search for music, just like Google is for the web.

    Don’t try and tell me what is crap music! I love Van Der Graaf Generator and also Clean Bandit and ABBA (some tracks) No, algorithm will give me all that by clicking a few ‘hate’ or ‘like’ buttons.


    Reply
    1. Yep

      You can totally tell this has been made by a team of music snobs! Their attitude being, we need to ‘spoon feed’ the nation and direct them around our wonderful (mostly major label/already filtered) catalogs.

      Like, they are in a completely different reality to the rest of the world…er, no, just no.

      The digital age is an OPEN platform. The cream will RISE and the shite will FALL away,

      Without filters.


      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        “The cream will RISE and the shite will FALL away, Without filters.”

        True, this is so 20th Century.


        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          Oops, wrong thread, so sorry. :)


          Reply
          1. Anonymous

            …er, except it wasn’t. I’ve been working 36 hours straight. So, I’ll shut up and go to bed.


            Reply
        2. Yep

          ‘So 20th century’ – Yep!. The thinking on it is physical, worse still it’s ‘CD’ Here is a small selection of music (20 mill, these days is small…) and we’ll let you think you’re in control by putting up some very vague filtering buttons – but what we push forward will be OUR content.

          This will drive people to Spotify, or worse still YouTube or worse still……… illegal files.


          Reply
  7. Never Fails

    As soon as something launches… DMN “This is the greatest thing ever for ever musician who has ever lived”

    6 – 12 months later when the company raises new funding or changes anything …. “It’s terrible for artists, they are not getting paid, something has to be done! I know …. a new service we can write about for 6 months, lets support that one.’


    Reply
    1. Nina Ulloa

      i haven’t worked here long enough to have a pattern of loving new services and hating them later. All I know is I like Beats right now.


      Reply
    2. Anonymous

      “6 – 12 months later when the company raises new funding or changes anything …. “It’s terrible for artists, they are not getting paid”

      We already know that the company pays curators instead of artists.

      And that is indeed terrible news for artists.


      Reply
  8. Sooo Disappointed

    Beats was going to save me from Spotify but … it’s terrible. First, I dont HATE any genres! As one of the first steps into the app, I must decide at that moment what music genres I will forever LOVE and HATE?? What does that even mean or, more importantly, what does it do… If I HATE Country music, will I never hear Johnny Cash again? Sometimes, I need me a little Man in Black. Second, to listen to radio, must I step through that dumb sentence everytime? Really? Mad Libs got old when I was 10 yrs old. Why make it so difficult to hear music? Third, no friends? Strike three. Beats is much worse than both Spotify and Rdio … and cost a lot more.


    Reply
    1. Me

      This is exactly what I was wondering about! There are artists I like in just about every genre. Maybe if it got into super specific subgenres (a la netflix)?


      Reply
    2. Nina Ulloa

      if you mean it costs more than free I would say that is a plus. if you’re talking about the paid tiers of Spotify and Rdio then the price is the same.


      Reply
  9. Boyan

    The entire music world boiled down to a few circles with genre names, great.
    I don’t listen to music like that.
    This is may be great for someone who has had limited exposure to culture/information, but it doesn’t work for me.

    Also, when are they going to wok on the streaming quality? There’s HD in video, but music audio quality hasn’t changed since mp3.
    Oh, never mind, sheeple can’t tell the difference.


    Reply
    1. Bad Beats

      Beats was supposed to be the service designed by music people for music people. What musician would stand behind this ridiculous genre selection functionality? Trent should be embarrased. I am embarrased for him.


      Reply
    2. Truth Time

      No, it’s designed for the masses. It’s a company that sold colorful headphones for 3 or 4 times their value. You think they want to cater to the musicians listening out there. 80/20 rule. 80% of the people don’t care about music as much as any of us reading this site ever will. The remaining 20% probably only has a quarter of the people in it thinking about artist payouts and that side of things. That brings me to the HD audio content. I agree, they should work on HD audio streaming. Unfortunately, nobody cares. You saw it with iTunes when they first started they had poor quality downloads and now they offer decent quality ones.. Most people don’t care enough though, so the demand for CD-quality audio may never reach streaming… at least in the near future it won’t. Who knows though, maybe some company out there is working on it and Beats or similar service buys them out. You saw it with Apple and Siri. Who would have thought 4 years ago that we could tell our phone what to do?


      Reply
      1. BN

        THIS^

        This approach is not designed for people who read, let alone comment on, sites like DMN. It is designed for the enormous swath of people for whom music isn’t the center of their worlds, but want an enjoyable, flexible, curated listening experience. It’s why Pandora is so damn popular.


        Reply
  10. GGG

    Havent’ used it yet, but yea, can anyone see any instances of genre crossing over? For example, if I were to fill this out, I’d be stuck with what to do with country. I’d love a playlist of, or that included, some older country, like Lyle, Vince, Johnny, Loretta, Emmylou, etc. But I have almost 0 interest in hearing the vast majority of modern top country music. Is there a way to separate those things, or I’m shit out of luck?


    Reply
    1. Nina Ulloa

      no way to separate off the bat, but if you were to go and listen to those artists the service would learn that you like them. i was stuck on “country” for exactly that reason.


      Reply
  11. Bad Beats

    I googled Beats to see what others are saying and found a surprisingly high number of positive reviews. Given how bad Beats Music really is, I assume this Jimmy Iovine’s marketing dollars at work.


    Reply
  12. @Bad Beats

    Don’t forget Dr. Dre. Trent was only creative director, this was mostly Iovine and Dre’s baby. And it is one ugly baby.


    Reply
  13. Can't Register

    I tried to register, but it said both of my emails addresses where already in use. Really? By whom? When I tried to retrieve the password, it said “no account affiliated with this email.” Opps. Maybe they simply want to force me to Facebook or Twitter? Not a chance. Either way, I expect Beats will draw in the hapless masses and urban kids that shell out $250 for a pair of awful sounding headphones. Not surprisingly, I read that rap and hip hop were the most listened to genres yesterday. Beats is going after mainstream youth, and they will probably have some level of success for these users that have no clue outside of a few select genres. It will be just more of the same top down push packaged as a high-tech service. If I wanted that, couldn’t I simply turn on the radio?


    Reply
  14. Anonymous

    If you don’t hate a genre, don’t mark it as hated. It’s not really that difficult or worth losing sleep over. The service has search just like any other app. The only thing it does different is bubble up relevant music to your tastes if you want something quick to listen to without digging around.


    Reply
    1. Nina Ulloa

      ^ thank you


      Reply
  15. Truth Time

    Looks cool, I’m definitely checking it out. Every once in a while Spotify will discover something good for me, but rarely. I’m looking for old and forgotten R&B/Soul/Funk bands and if Beats can deliver on that, then I’m sold. As a music nerd, the playlists for “going out/getting it on/etc..” intrigue me. I like pre-built playlists because I don’t have time to make my own. I could sit here for hours putting together my perfect playlist but all it would be is 10,000 songs on shuffle because I wouldn’t be able to whittle it down. Also, my idea of getting ready to go out songs is much different than 99% of people (I was banned from being the iPod DJ in our college apartment), so having guests over and putting on something most people would find acceptable for the occasion would be awesome. Anyway, hoping most importantly that Jimmy, Dre, Trent and the crew have discovered a better model for artist payouts in the streaming era. Streaming won’t die, it’s the future. All technology is going to a license / cloud based path. OWNING iTunes songs or MP3’s will soon seem foolish when you can spend 10 bucks a month for everything. Physical, particularly vinyl, will still have a niche because it’s tangible and cool.


    Reply
    1. Yves Villeneuve

      The real truth unravels…

      music nerd = less than 10% of the population

      average music fan = more than 90% of the population


      Reply
      1. GGG

        So? Not sure why you always try to bring this up. It’s a major backed service, it’s not like the playlists are going to be a bunch of like pre-LCD James Murphy remixes and lost Velvet Underground b-sides. You’ll still hear plenty of Imagine Dragons in rock and plenty of Katy Perry in pop.


        Reply
        1. Yves Villeneuve

          Mostly music nerds are interested in unlimited on-demand access… It may be the future for music nerds but not for the average music fan. Have a nice day.


          Reply
          1. GGG

            Everyone that goes to YouTube is a music nerd?


            Reply
            1. Yves Villeneuve

              Everyone (average music fan) who is not interested in creating playlists goes to YouTube.


              Reply
              1. GGG

                Well, luckily for the (average music fan) Beats Music creates the playlists for them.


                Reply
                1. Yves Villeneuve

                  Why bother paying for a subscription when free radio is perfect for their needs. The average music fan is not interested in discovering obscure music that mostly only appeals to music nerds and has little chance of making the mainstream top 10 in their respective genre.


                  Reply
                  1. GGG

                    Because as I said before, Beats isn’t going to be some obscure music service. Look at the screen shots Nina provided, EllenDegeneres as a curator, you think she won’t have Top 40 music? A Grammy playlist, think that will be all the untelevised awards? No, it will be the popular shit. Look at the other stuff we can see, Daft Punk, Drake, Kanye, Lady GaGa, Buble, etc. Not exactly underground shit.

                    Also, just because people accept the radio playing the same 30 songs over and over doesn’t mean they don’t or won’t want something better with a little more depth.

                    If everyone who was content with something didn’t bother moving onto the next idea, we’d still be living in caves.


                    Reply
                    1. Yves Villeneuve

                      What’s the point. Read my first sentence. If you want to believe Ellen’s expensive playlist will do better in terms of relevance to the average music fan than Ryan Seacrest’s free weekly top 40 then be my guest. You like to argue for the sake of arguing. End of this discussion from where I stand.


                    2. GGG

                      Plenty of reasons. Commercials are annoying. Dumb call-in contests are annoying. Stupid DJs are annoying. People DO want the option to hear more of a variety of songs/artists etc, especially if Beats actually does do a good job of curation and the word gets out.


  16. M.Young

    Hmmm… what does it feel like to ‘Hate’ a music genre you say? One word….” Bieber “


    Reply
  17. Willis

    Zzzz…welcome to another overly-hyped, super-funded music offering. While the graphics may be hip and the flow may be a bit different, it’s the same old song and dance. If it does get traction, it will be brief. Music fans, if there really area any around these days, are fickle.

    It’ll be a cold dre in heck before beating the same drum produces different results.


    Reply
  18. hippydog

    I cant try it out (I’m from Canada) [well, I could.. LOL, but Faking my IP address is just to much work ;-) ]

    I would like like to comment on the people bashing the “hate of genres”..
    Using the word “hate” I agree is a poor choice of a word..

    BUT I do believe that any music service needs the ability to narrow down your favorites.. Ie: filters of some sort..

    one example I can think of is; I love checking out indie sites, but there is one site that has a large “membership” of indie artists but I hate going there..
    Why?
    Cause there is no curation of any type.. They have this policy where it seems they don’t want to hurt any artists feelings, and I simply don’t have the time to listen to 5000 songs just so I can find the one or two gems in the rubble.. So I stopped visiting the site, its a great site, well made, but is useless to me as a way to discover new music..

    Having said that though, Curation through “experts” I have never had any luck with either, but that could simply be a matter of finding an “expert” that has a closer “taste” profile to me..

    in the end I hope Beats music makes it to Canada, I would love to try it out..


    Reply
    1. Paul Resnikoff

      Try the iPad (or iPhone) app, I think it’s working in Canada.


      Reply
  19. soniquarium muzika

    Let see. Excited as my content is carried but to be honest, so far, nothing has beat ITUNES traffic and sales. Second Runner up is Beat Port for Dance. So, we shall see!


    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      When iTunes was 1 day old, lots of stuff beat iTunes in traffic and sales.


      Reply
  20. Ari Herstand

    Great review Nina!


    Reply
    1. Nina Ulloa

      thanks Ari!


      Reply
  21. @Bad Beats

    Ha ha ha. The entire site is returning a “404 Error” message and their twitter is blowing up with complaints.
    https://beatsmusic.com/notfound


    Reply
    1. Beats is Dead

      Confirmed. It appears that Beats music disabled the sentence option functionality because it was crashing their app. Also, web login is gone too.


      Reply
  22. Beats is Dead

    Wonder when Beats will work with my Sonos. I keep getting error message and I’m in day 2 of 7 day free trial. They need to extend the free trial period. Otherwise, good luck with converting anyone to a subscription.

    Trent and Iovine probably should have stuck to hawking crappy headphones.


    Reply
    1. Nina Ulloa

      they’ve supposedly extended the trials


      Reply
  23. The Doodler

    This is hilarious, how companies, backed by whoever, think they are “changing the industry”. This will be gone in 2 years MAX. No one thinks music is worth paying money for anymore. There’s not many more years left on the generation of music consumers who think that it is worth it. All the industry has affectively done is shift those buyers who used to spend $50-$100 a month on music to spending $10 a month on music. Then once those people are gone, then it’s over. The forthcoming generations ARE NOT PAYING FOR MUSIC!


    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      “This will be gone in 2 years MAX”

      Let’s hope you’re right — paying curators instead of artists is a sick idea.

      Almost as sick as basing a music service on hate for music.


      Reply
      1. Nina Ulloa

        they’re not paying curators INSTEAD of artists… artists are still getting whatever royalty rate was agreed on. and with this service the rate is the same whether you’re katy perry or some indie artist.

        & yeah. i hate christian rock. with this service i will never have it suggested to me. if i suddenly have the urge i can look it up and listen, it’s not permanently banned from me forever.


        Reply

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