In this streaming era of music, I don’t think it came as a surprise to anyone that Apple added music streaming services in conjunction with iTunes. In fact, last year on my iPhone, I ventured into an iTunes radio option that basically worked like Pandora. This was at least a year before Apple Music was announced. Now I enjoyed the iTunes Radio better than Pandora; I felt the musical selections within the station were more consistent with Apple. So when Apple announced their own music streaming service, I was curious and anxious to give it a go.
I’m about a month into my 3-month free trial, and I’ve gotten a pretty good handle on the basic ins and outs of the service. If you haven’t jumped into the service yet, allow me to provide a brief overview on how things get started. Firstly, Apple will ask you to essentially ‘ignore’ ‘like’ or ‘love’ (these are done through tapping bubbles once or twice) genres of music. Most of these genres are based on the criteria iTunes separates music within its store, though there were some variations. For me, I chose “Country”, “Rock”, “Oldies”, and “Indie” thinking it might give the best shot to find my favorites. There is no option for “Americana” or anything of that realm off the bat. Next, Apple will prompt you to, again, ‘ignore’ ‘like’ or ‘love’ artists within those genres. While the country artist offerings were many of the mainstream acts, George Strait, Johnny Cash, and Alan Jackson were offered up.
Now once you’ve gone through to select your fields, the main portion of the service are pre-made playlists based on that field. Some of the offerings I’ve had range from titles of “Intro to Conway Twitty” to “Country Hits: 1972” to “Country BBQ”. These playlists are pre-selected lists of about 15 songs. Apple also suggests specific albums from the artists/genres you selected. Luckily, one may expand this field by searching artists and “following” them on Apple Music. That’s the only way I was able to get Jason Isbell to pop up, which opened up some doors for Americana themed playlists. It was frustrating that artists like Isbell, and many of the Texas country stars had to be sought out initially rather than creating an offer for it. As for the playlists themselves, they’re hit or miss for me. The artist themed ones are good (Chuck Berry proved to be an excellent sound track to cooking dinner one night). And maybe it’s because I can be picky, but playlists like “Country BBQ” had only 5 songs I found worth listening to in that theme.
The Apple Radio function is a favorite of mine. “Red Dirt Radio” played many songs from Johnny Cooper, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Turnpike Troubadours and others while I only had to skip one song from a metal band that had the words “red” “dirt” in an album. I’ll still argue that Apple Radio is a better internet radio option over Pandora.
One other big offer from Apple within this music service is the option to basically add any song/album to your personal music library on your phone. As someone who has a 2 hour total commute to/from work, this is an enticing offer that I’ve been taking advantage of, as I listen to my personal music more than the radio while driving. Thinking about it financially, $9.99/month for the subscription means all you need to do is download two albums from Apple Music each month into your music and the service is worth the money. The downside, though, is they’re just digital files in the cloud that you can’t add to your physical music library. The other, more noble, downside is that getting albums this way also means that it’s not $10 directly spent on a specific album for artists I care about supporting.
Essentially, from what I can tell, Apple Music works well for those who live in the digital world of music. The monthly subscription gives you access to just about any music you could ask for short of Garth Brooks. However, for those like myself who have built an extensive physical music library over the years, it’s a bit of give and take with the service. In order to use the download option from Apple Music, I ended up losing many of my personal playlists I made with my music on iTunes that were currently synced onto my iPhone. The best thing about Apple Music, to me, is the Apple Radio function. The worst thing is the digital battle you have with Apple about giving up the music you want on your phone if you choose to add music via the subscription. Adding music from my iTunes by the “add artist” way works and those selections are untouched. All in all, there’s a good chance I won’t renew my Apple Music subscription after the trial period ends. Though, it’s been fun to experiment with the new service.
Upcoming/Recent Country Music Releases
- Lindi Ortega’s new album, Faded Gloryville, will be released tomorrow. You can be certain we’ll have a review of the album soon.
- Luke Bryan and Michael Ray will also release albums tomorrow.
- Jason Boland & The Stragglers have announced the title of their next album. Squelch will be released on October 7.
- As we mentioned last week, Alabama, will be releasing a new album on September 18 called Southern Drawl. The lead off single for the album is “Wasn’t Through Lovin’ You Yet.”
- The Band Perry announced via Twitter that their new single will be called “Live Forever.”
- Thomas Rhett unveiled the track listing from his upcoming album. Included is a duet with American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, a song that samples War’s “Low Rider” (which results in 14 credited songwriters), and a song featuring Lunch Money Lewis.
- Zac Brown Band will release “Beautiful Drug” as their next single.
- Reba has announced her next single will be “Until They Don’t Love You.”
Today in Country Music History
- George Jones earned his first number one album with the 1966 release I’m a People.
- Willie Nelson’s Always On My Mind was the number one album in 1982. His album ended up being Billboard’s #1 country album of that year, topping the chart for a total of 22 weeks!
- In 1990, Garth Brooks releases the, arguably, biggest song of his career in “Friends In Low Places.”
- In 1993, Alan Jackson tops the charts with “Chattahoochee.”
All information for this section is gathered from This Day In Country Music.
Throwback Thursday Song
“Rose Garden” by Lynn Anderson. Country music lost another legend on July 30 after Lynn Anderson lost her life to a heart attack. “Rose Garden” was one of her big hits in country music. This week’s Throwback Song is in her honor today.
Non-Country Suggestion of the Week
Tyrone Wells Roll With It. I was introduced to Tyrone Wells’ music about a year ago, and I think he has an enjoyable Adult Contemporary/Pop sound. Wells is a singer/songwriter from Spokane, Washington. Roll With It, released back in March, has a bit more pop influence on the production than several of his previous albums, but that doesn’t hinder this album at all. Some of the songwriting on this album, though, isn’t as strong as previous albums from Wells. This is good pop music in a genre where pop music should rightfully exist.
Tweet of the Week
Instead of commenting on one tweet, I’ll give you a few of my favorite CMA Fest tweets from the TV broadcast Tuesday night.
In other news, the number of skinny jeans at the #CMAFest special is very disturbing.
— Tracy (@TracySchlater) August 5, 2015
Who’s killing country music #CMAfest
— bart wise (@wisebart) August 5, 2015
— Kristi S (@kristilynn44) August 5, 2015
Don’t get me started on the irony of closing out a show that shorted country’s great female talent with “She’s Country.” #CMAFest
— Windmills Country (@WindmillsMusic) August 5, 2015
iTunes Reviews to Make You Smile
The first review was left under the Eli Young Band “remix” of Andy Grammer’s “Honey, I’m Good.” Personally, I think the original song is unnecessary manufactured noise, but Muduck147 makes a great point.
The second review, if you couldn’t tell from the title, was left under Jason Isbell’s Something More Than Free. All I have to say is that’s a hell of a compliment from this reviewer.