Apple Music

5 years ago after waiting entirely too long I deleted iTunes all-together. Apple for over a decade was the only software of its kind; top dog and really only competition. Myself & many others committed primarily due to the massive amount of $ invested over years (I had 1600+ purchased tracks). Without a real competitor, Apple invested its time/resources in other areas and naturally the desire to improve iTunes was put on the back-burner. The software initially was pretty clean out of the box- drag and drop, sync your device and good to go. It never had any ‘wow’ features (like importing a store bought CDs cover art by default for example) and that was fine, essentially it was only a place to store your music. Anyone could update or “organize” their library manually, which was really a non-issue and very time consuming- of course all that really mattered was that it worked. When the music industry (aka iTunes) went in piracy-craze… it went from bad to worse real quick: gradually turning into an overly bulky POS program that was archaically slow and difficult to maintain. Launching the program was painful- users had “cant find music” problems regularly and the software update would ask for you to upgrade iTunes to version 15.22.4.9.1.00 for bug fixes… while your at it better go ahead and update safari, iCloud sync, QuickTime and your iPod software… then force a restart. Importing store bought or ripped CDs and syncing became even more difficult, burning your own outrageously priced “PURCHASED MUSIC” was restricted to a certain # of discs/devices. In  short-  iTunes  features it had always lacked were fine, non-improvement even… but it got much-mush-undeniably  worse. Growing up my dad was a magazine editor. Since age 5 I had a mac/deskop, at 10 gotot first ever iPod Classic in 1998 and in 200camped out overnight in lineq overnight in 2007 for the first iPhone release- I felt I was a pretty advanced user and couldn’t get anything to work easily anymore, Apple claimed all these things were possible but for the average user not anymore. After the major iCloud sync announcement I decided to give it another shot. You could download about 3-4 songs at a time (taking several minutes per song) before an issue would occur if you wanted to store a purchased track to ydur device. All other music on iTunes you could listen to “on the cloud” sounds great in Cupertino-Land, but in Windstream Nation you could forget about it… I had over 6K songs in my library and manually syncing 3-4 at a time was an easy time to feel good about hating iTunes, finally leaving your library behind and moving on. That opinion became shared by many others over the next several years, hitting rock bottom when MacObserver released an article claiming “iTunes 12 is Apple’s Worst Software Ever, Should Be Withdrawn.” Fast forward to today with the online music providers and competition for Apple now in the form of Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody, Pandora, Beats Music, Tidal, Google Play, iHeartRadio and Amazon Prime just to name a few… the landscape of the industry has changed swiftly and the pressure to innovate and create a product in competitive/big money industry increased overnight. I was always the type of person to “acquire music” in a less than “good” way, but have subscribed to Spotfy premium for the past 3 years and haveave absolutely zero complaints. It’s a switch that so far has been a no brainer deicison- the amount pf time it saves me from tracking downloading/Repripping CDs- Spotifys interface, navigation, placing your computer wase of use iOS app features, its hard to beat! fordable annd hassle-free make it easy and affordable. Their may be a new front runner… a Phoenix rising from the ashes… Apple Music on the comeback trail to get it right this time. iTunes was so bad they couldn’t keep the name; but here are a few things I liked that will change the game – (and possibly separate themselves from their top competition: 1. Sync was much easier, cloud download of previous purchases was almost too fast (as it quickly used up my storage).  Although you’re able to store both file types offline on any device- iTunes match (music you purchase) is obviously different vs. (stock)Apple Music (Cloud Library-monthly) one you have ownership of the music files and the other you would need to continue renewing a subscription to retain access. 2. The smart (“tell us what you like”)/genius features are further advanced and helpful in suggesting new music recommendations over time (as you like songs, build history etc.) and what time of the day it is. If this looks familiar, it is. This past year Apple acquired Beats for $3 billion and similar features were previously a popular draw for them, especially with the younger generation. 3. The interface, layout and navigation are much improved. the old app (both web/app) to create playlists, organize, find what you already owned, etc. In my opinion placing focus on the store rather than the library itself – not to mention confusing for using  iTunes, App Store and (stock) Music as 3 completely separate apps. For lack of a better word- the new design is very-Google-ish, providing a much cleaner/minimal layout, utilizing space well and having isolated popular items in the top/bottom tabs. 3. The artist connect tab is the most intriguing concept (with the most potential) of Apple Music in my mind. Sure artists have been to “connect with fans” on other apps like Spotify, iTunes Live (in the past) and plenty more… but all those in reality are very disconnected, outside on a 3-4 random questions Q&A or live version re-release of  popular track. But iTunes has potential to be different for a few reasons: its simple, hassle-free and front & center in a tab by itself, no racing into a laptop and creating an account (think JustinTV or livestream.com) it feels more personal/interactive and already has a massive amount of at all-times/everyday users (like Twitter) to be powerful both to Apple/The Artist. Imagine Ed Sheeran logged in from his apartment to play a demo track at 3 AM… unannounced, with no premeditated purpose other than to reach out to fans. On The flip-side- say Drake’s scheduled for an album release party and market in advance/announce part of event will be viewable live on connect. Can you think of a more powerful/better platform for both Apple/Artist? This concept of social broadcasting especially recently is nothing new; with the internet shifting towards a mobile dominated user-base and startup apps like Periscope & Meerkat battling to grow & establish a new/active user-base. Apple already has that (or should regain it) and its already integrated with an app that EVERYONE has (by choice or not)/not a separate download or utility. Of course time will tell how successful in reality the new “Apple Music” will become to be. Apple’s flaws in the past have never been capturing a user base with a great product (or one horse race)- but continuing to innovate one past its initial “wow at launch phase” (“better camera” as top new iPhone feature) and competing in crowded markets (Microsoft Word/desktops). I don’t plan on switching from Spotify after my 3 month free trial period is up just yet… but as bad as iTunes was for so many years, they could be due for a homerun. Until then I’ll be scoreboard watching.

Best Gifts

At our end of season party my team gave me abook as a gift, my first thought was obviously ‘soccer book’ but after removing it from the bag it was not what I expected at all… The World of Winnie The Pooh. I’m a sensitive guy, wear my emotions on my sleeve, so I was immediately pretty happy to have it. Many of the stories, life lessons, etc. in the book go hand in hand with many aspects of coaching… but their was more… inside each of them had found a quote that they felt was relatable to them, myself or our team/wrote a short note and signed it. It’s a pretty large book so it was a lot of fun trying to find each of them and where they were…tears on many pages that night… that’s what makes it all worth it, can’t put a price on it… kind of thing I’ll keep the rest of my life! very lucky to have a group like that… truly 1/1. Here are a few of the notes: (red lines I added to names to keep anon/avoid embarrassing anyone lol)