A few months ago I sat in the speaker room at MacWorld Expo talked at length with Chris Breen about music streaming services. Chris is a musician and firm believer in streaming your music instead of buying it. I explained how I tried a few of the services and none of them stuck with me. Chris told me to try Beats Music.
Coincidentally, the very next day I received an email from AT&T explaining that I could get a free three month trial on the Beats family plan. If I stick with it, the subscription will be $15 a month and everybody in my family can run Beats at the same time playing different music. The service is already built into the Sonos app for my speakers and I can now easily stream just about anything I can think of throughout my house.
The big reason Chris told me to try Beats was because they have human curated playlists. I'm now halfway through the experiment and a lot more excited about streaming services than I was the last time I tried. I like the music exploration element of it but I also would like the idea of spending $15 a month buying a new album that I could own for the rest of my life. I think it really comes down to the question of how adventurous you are about your music tastes and how badly you want to own your music. Ironically, this experiment with Beats has led me to buy more music than usual through iTunes as a result of discovery new tracks. I'm probably doing this wrong.
The browser experience on the Mac doesn't work without Flash, so I can only run it in Chrome. I think they could stand to have a stand alone Mac app but I'm sure that is not as high a priority as iOS. I’m not sure what I’ll do when I have to start paying but I suspect I’ll subscribe, at least for awhile longer. I have no idea if this proposed Apple purchase is an actual thing or a marketing gimmick. I can say, however, the Beats experiment is the first time I've taken to a streaming service. Josh Centers over at TidBITS did a nice write up explaining what distinguishes Beats from some of its competitor services. I thought the music sounded better than my last streaming experiment and Josh explains they are using higher bitrates.