Thoughts on Apple Music, and popular music in general

Testing Apple Music and Amazon Music Unlimited

I’m in my a three month free trial of Apple Music, and I’m pleased so far with the quality and technical aspects of Apple Music vs Amazon Music Unlimited, which I’m also testing.

Here are some of the differences I noticed:

  1. I’m no audiophile, but I feel Apple Music somehow sounds better than Amazon Music. Some have suggested that might be due to lossless encoding.
  2. There are infinitely more Japanese songs – including lyrics! Amazon Music Unlimited almost never has a Japanese song I’m looking for. Apple Music has had all of them so far. I asked a friend for some search suggestions and Apple Music found them all – with lyrics.
  3. In general there seems to be more albums I’m interested in.
  4. Apple Music didn’t used to have lyrics, now it has full lyrics and follow along lyrics. They look very nice. The lack of lyrics was one reason I originally started looking at Amazon Music. I guess Apple is competing more.
  5. Download is quicker. One reason I looked at it again (in addition to the three month free trial) was because Amazon Music downloads started getting backed up / erratic (though my backed up ones finished now). If I download an album from Apple Music it’s almost immediately downloaded.
  6. The Apple Music albums contain nicely written album descriptions, with background info.

When my Amazon Music free trial lapses soon I think I will not subscribe and, instead, continue for three months with Apple Music and then decide. It’s just a tad more a year – $99 vs $79. My impression so far is that it seems worth it.

New Albums

Another difference I noticed is being made aware of new albums.

With Amazon Music I never (or I don’t notice it) get notified of new albums and recommendations to download. With Apple Music I do. It’s like they are encouraging me to download more, while Amazon Music seems more into locking me into my previous likes.

What this means is I’m listening to new music with Apple Music.

What makes a song stick with you?

And that gets me to my question: When do new songs sound like something you really like and want to listen to over and over again?

For decades it seems I’ve been listening to the same songs by the same artists – typically oldies like Joan Baez, The Beatles, the Carpenters, Joni Mitchell, and things like that from the 70s and 80s mostly. Even among those artists I rarely listen to songs I’m not already familiar with.

Yesterday I downloaded the new ABBA album “Voyage” from Apple Music and listened to it on my dog walk (caution: it’s not long enough for a full dog walk – just 48 minutes).

I’ve never been what you would call a huge ABBA fan, but they have some catchy songs I’ve liked over the years.

Anyway, this album is “ok” to listen to. It has a nice beat that is good for a dog walk. But I wasn’t left feeling that any particular song was memorable, or that I particularly wanted to hear it again.

So when do songs sink in and become your favorites?

On the other hand, I heard a song by Joan Baez recently, “Best of Friends” for the first time. It immediately got stuck in my brain and I listen to it every day and I find myself humming it.

So is it something about the song itself, rather than over-and-over again familiarity that creates your music favorites?

Similarly, I heard two songs over the past year or so I had never heard before, which became immediate favorites: “Your Song” (made popular by Elton John, but I heard the Lady Gaga cover first) and “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, but I heard the cover by Jeff Buckley first, and really liked it (though I didn’t care for anything else on Jeff Buckley’s album, “Grace.”)

So maybe it really is something special about the song, rather than simply hearing it over and over again?

I see there are new albums recommended for download by other people I know of but haven’t listened to much before: Adele, Taylor Swift, and Ed Sheeran.

I’ve heard Adele’s, “Hello” before. But that might be the only one. I also liked the SNL skit on that song.

I’m not sure I’ve heard Taylor Swift before, but I know the name.

And Ed Sheeran… I never heard of him at all before until I saw the movie, “Yesterday” and then, just from context, I figured, “he must be well known or something.”

Anyway, I’m expanding my music horizons a bit. I’m still not leaping into other recommended people who sound completely unfamiliar to me, such as French Montana, Ibiza, Doom Crew, Ama Lou, Lars Frederiksen, and a host of other completely unfamiliar names. But it’s interesting to expand what I had been listening to.

Apple Music also has streaming by mood: chill, work out, having friends over, etc., which is nice.

And Apple Music also makes it easy to find old favorites, like albums by Ella Fitzgerald, who I really love.

What about you? What do you think makes a song stick with you? Is it something immediate? Or does it take playing over and over again before it just becomes familiar?

I’m thinking it might be more immediate, which is why nothing really grabbed me in the new ABBA album.

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