Why I’m Paying for Apple Music

Last week, I got an email from Apple telling me that I was being billed for my Apple Music subscription; or “membership” as they call it. I have agreed to pay the $10 monthly tithe to access music on Apple Music, against my better judgment.

I had high hopes for Apple Music. Back in 2014, I wrote an article suggesting how Apple could make a streaming music service that would be better than the others. Apple Music looks a lot like what I outlined back then, though Apple has managed to make it quite confusing. iCloud Music Library is a mess; iTunes is confusing; and the iOS Music app is frustrating to use.

I’ve long felt that streaming music encourages detachment from music, rather than engagement. I haven’t changed my mind about that. I don’t find Apple Music’s recommendations very useful, and I find the process of discovering music to be no better than browsing on Amazon. But I have a large music collection, and eclectic musical tastes, and it makes more sense to keep listening to music I own.

In fact, the only reason I plan to pay for Apple Music is because I write about it. I get lots of questions about Apple Music for my Ask the iTunes Guy column on Macworld, and, just as I have paid for iTunes Match for several years without really using it, I will have to pay $120 a year for Apple Music as a business expense.

While I have listened to the occasional album or playlist on Apple Music in the past three months, the fact that I cannot integrate my own iTunes library with iCloud Music Library ensures that I will not do so regularly. Apple has so bungled this feature that I dare not trust my library to iCloud, since my initial experiences were so bad. And I keep getting emails from people who have similar experiences when they turn on iCloud Music Library.

Apple had an opportunity to make something different; to make something that would stand out, that would work more efficiently than other music streaming services. But the company has failed, creating a service with a confusing interface that insists on messing up libraries of people who have been collecting music for a long time. I wish it worked better; I wish I could get $10 a month worth of music from Apple Music. But I won’t. I’ll keep paying only because I have to.

[Note: in order to use Apple Music, I have it turned on on my MacBook and my iPod touch. I don’t have it on my iMac, which houses my main library, nor on my iPhone or iPad, to which I sync music from that library.]