The streaming music world is a vast and wonderful space, one filled with popular services like Rdio and Spotify. And now hip-hop icon Dr. Dre hopes to fill a need (and his pockets) with Beats Music, which relies on curated playlists to set itself apart from the competition.
The big difference between Beats Music and the other services is that Beats is purely a pay-to-play service, coming in at $9.99 a month. The fact that Beats doesn’t offer a free, ad-supported service is kind of mind boggling. While Dre and company see massive success with their Beats hardware, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of long-term commitment users have with Beats Music considering there are more established and free options available.
That said, Beats Music has an intuitive but gimmicky user interface, and equally gimmicky features.
Launching Beats for the first time gives users a Mad Libs-like form that attempts to indicate what mood you're in so it can suggest appropriate music. This is actually a pretty nice experience, because it requires little effort on the user to input individual artists or genres. Once you’re done, a personalized set of playlists launches you into the music that, hopefully, fits what you’re looking for.
In my experience the questionnaire did me proud, as I hoped it would do considering the service has a 20 million-track catalog at its disposal. What I also found nice and refreshing was that the playlists were updated several times throughout the day, which always provided me something new but familiar to listen to.
A lot of those tracks can be found in some awesome pre-made curated lists from names like Pitchfork and Rolling Stone. I found some great new songs and artists just by shuffling the tracks, and was pleased with the snappiness and ease of use.
Although gimmicky, one feature I had fun with was “The Sentence.” You input a sentence into the app, then it recognizes some keywords that it then uses to give you a custom playlist. It’s fun to mess with a couple of times just to see what happens, but it’s almost too much work and not quite dependable enough to use time after time.
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Pay to play
Beats Music has a $9.99/month subscription fee. The service is available on iOS, Android and Windows Phone and the web. Fans are able to stream their own music or download music to listen to offline.