Music is my entire life. Its the only thing that I’ve been good at. I love it. I feel like its been my best friend. Its something that has always given me focus, its always made me deal with anything, because I have this soundtrack. And I think that its something that’s become something that happens in the background rather than the foreground in the last 10 years or so. Id like to nudge it a little closer to the foreground.
- Trent Reznor
Rolling Stone interview with Trent Reznor
Music has always been one of the most important ways I’ve found to inspire myself. Whether its to help me focus more on my studies, give me a welcome break during the day, or to just help me lose myself between the notes as I listen to my favourite songs music has always had an undeniable impact on my life.
When I packed my bags to leave for Japan I made sure to carry my iPod with me as well as an external HDD that had my entire music collection in MP3 format so that during the first few months of my time living away from my friends and family I could just turn on a track and immediately feel as though I was back home.
Fast forward a few years and my music collection has not really expanded much more than when I first arrived in Japan. Sure I’ve bought a couple of Cowboy Bebop CDs and some albums from my two favourite Japanese artists / groups World Order and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu but nothing other than that. The high price of music CDs in Japan as well as the lack of decently priced streaming alternatives with good selections of music that like contributed to the slowing down of my musical collections growth.
Fast forward to earlier this year when Apple announced their Apple Music streaming service that was to be built from their purchase of the Beats brand and I was pretty excited to be able to access an international music streaming service finally.
After using it from when it first launched I’ve had a chance to play around with it and so far I’m really happy with the pricing and scope of their service. probably my favourite part of Apple is actually the vast selection of curated playlists they offer. I’ve always found myself sticking to the same bands and the same genres of music without any way of discovering smaller bands or different styles of music. This is where Apples playlists have helped me discover new groups like Mumford and Sons as well as finding lesser known tunes of bands I’m already familiar with.
I’ve also enjoyed the small bits of the Beats 1 radio service I’ve listened to. This has been more hit and miss for me as its not specifically crafted to me of course! That said, there are plenty of awesome hosts and programs on Beats 1 with Elton John having a particularly awesome weekly show. I for one did not know just how wide a spread of music he knows about!
There are still some problems that I hope Apple can iron out in the near future as Apple Music continues to grow and evolve. The app and service are rather confusing to navigate through as you have to dig several levels deep in order to find certain settings or access a bands page. I just want a quick and simple way to be able to access an artists straight from the main screen. There are also notable albums and /or artists that are still AWOL but I think that might be something more applicable to streaming music in general rather than just Apple Music. Over time hopefully more artists will embrace this way of exposing themselves to new fans and getting their music out to a wider audience.
With Apple Music it seems as though Japan is now drowning in a sea of streaming service with Line Music and Google Music both being two big name launches in the past few months. Whether or not the Japanese music audience adopts streaming music services is a whole different story though…