Over the past decade Apple has completely changed the way we consume music.
In the span of only 10 years we’ve gone from ripping CDs onto our iPods to downloading MP3s from iTunes to storing and streaming music from the cloud. With WWDC 2015 right around the corner, it’s how Apple plans to tackle streaming music that has my undivided attention.
When I was 16 I got my very first job working at an FYE in our local mall. It was the perfect first job. I loved music and enjoyed spending my time learning about different genres and discovering new artists. I still remember people lining up on Tuesdays to pick up the latest, hottest albums.
In 2001 I got my first iPod. I was amazed at how many songs I could fit on it —1,000 was a heck of a lot back then. With the introduction of the iPod also came iTunes. At the time it was nothing more than a way to get all your existing music on your iPod. You ripped your CDs to your iTunes library and then tethered your iPod and synced your songs. It was amazing technology and every Tuesday I couldn’t wait to upload whatever new albums I had purchased to my iPod.
Right as I was finishing up high school Apple released the first version of the iTunes Store. It debuted with 200,000 songs priced at $0.99 each. Apple also sold its 1 millionth iPod that same year. How people consumed music was changing. Slowly but surely, iPods and MP3 players started outnumbering CD players and Discmans.
When I entered college I slowly started buying more and more tracks from iTunes. A lot of this was because like many others, I found it cheaper to just buy the tracks I wanted to listen to instead of the entire album. For big releases from my favorite artists, I still found myself paying random visits to the record stores on campus. There was still something about owning CDs and having them in my collection that appealed to me.
A few years and a few iPods later, the iPhone was released. iTunes began carrying more content than I could have ever imagined. Now my music was even more accessible and the thought of carrying around a separate device just for music became silly.
When Apple released iTunes Match in 2011, I finally had a way to access my music library without ever having to sync my iPhone with iTunes. I immediately subscribed and synced my entire library. And for the next year or so, this kept me happy. I saved tremendous amounts of storage space and barely had to have any contact with iTunes on my Mac.
Streaming music isn’t about ownership, it’s about convenience.
Then sometime in 2012 I decided to sign up for Spotify. I was buying at least one album from iTunes a month. If I could get access to millions of songs across any device for the price of a single album, why would I not?
Rdio has served as my paid streaming service of choice since 2013. Actual iTunes purchases are few and far between. I only continue to subscribe to iTunes Match so I can have access to the music I paid for prior to streaming. Not all of it is available in Rdio, or any other service for that matter. Even though my current streaming experience is full of fragmentation and multiple subscriptions, I still prefer it over purchasing.
That’s because streaming music isn’t about ownership, it’s about convenience. I subscribe to iTunes Match because it takes the work out of managing over a decade’s worth of music. I pay for iCloud storage because it gives me acess to all my files and photos anytime, anywhere.
Now it’s time for Apple to do the same with streaming music. I want a solution that doesn’t require me to piece together different services. Something that lets me access my current music library, access offline content, but still enjoy music discovery when and if I want. I want all the value I get from Rdio, iTunes Match, and iTunes Radio rolled into one. It’s a tall order but if anyone can make it happen, it’s Apple. It isn’t iOS 9 or a new Apple TV that has me most excited for June, but the opportunity to watch Apple revolutionize the music industry all over again.