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    • I recently read an article on The Verge called "The best music streaming service". It's pretty familiar stuff if you've read similar articles across tech sites or blogs. The problem is that these articles don't seem to capture my use-case or resonate with my priorities when choosing a music streaming service. After reading the article on The Verge, I think I understand why. Before I explain why though, some background for context...

      I just ended my Apple Music Subscription after a couple of years. Why? Because I was miserable. Music has always been important to me but I found that my interest in music had completely stagnated; I wasn't finding new music (except for new albums by bands or musicians I already liked), I wasn't even finding music that I did like unless it was in my existing collection. Instead, I found myself listening to the same albums or tracks over-and over. Of course, Apple Music offered plenty of playlists but, even if I liked a couple of songs in each one, I didn't like the whole. There is a "New Music" mix each week but I rarely liked any of the songs in it. Apple Music just didn't understand what I liked - it just didn't get me.

      (At this point, the question has to be why I stayed for so long. The rest of my family are iPhone users and so wanted to stick to their native music service and I didn't want to pay for more than one service.)

      Earlier this year, YouTube Music relaunched and I decided to give it a try and see what was new. The difference was a revelation - YouTube Music's "Your Mixtape" kept playing music I love. Track after track, it was hitting home runs every time: music I owned, music I had forgotten I liked, music I was hearing for the first time (actually there has been one track I really didn't like so far, but I at least understood why the algorithm thought I might). The playlists are often complete lists of music that I love. That's the second time I've used the word "love" in this paragraph - that's not a word I use lightly. I'm excited about listening to music again.

      Circling back then, why is it that the various articles comparing streaming services aren't talking about the experience I just described? Then I read the following in The Verge article:

      A good streaming music service has a straightforward user interface that makes it easy to organize a library of thousands of songs or playlists across the web, Android, and iOS apps, and in some cases, a desktop Mac or Windows app.

      I realized that I have absolutely no interest in organizing a library of songs or playlists; I just want to listen to good music from the moment I open the app to the moment I close it. In fact, when I thought more about it, organizing anything digitally seems a rather old-fashioned idea - I haven't organized a photo album since Google Photos took over all the heavy lifting; I haven't organized a news feed since a host of services sprang up that would organize the feed for me; even "My list" in Netflix is a surprise when I stumble upon it - why do I need to add things to a list when Netflix will bring up potentially interesting shows front-and-center? The difference between Apple Music and YouTube Music experiences, at least for me, is all about discoverability.

      A note for Spotify users: You are probably thinking about the great algorithms in Spotify, if not the "Discover Weekly" functionality. I'm not suggesting that YouTube Music has a monopoly here and, for the record, I have no problem with The Verge's conclusion that Spotify is the best streaming service - that is not what this post is about.

      It's my view that music discoverability should, in 2018 and beyond, be a central consideration in choosing a streaming service, and it should be a central element in any review on the subject.

      What do you think?

    • Hi Peter, welcome to Cake! 😁 What an awesome first post.

      From line 1 of your post I thought "Ugh, it's way past time for me to focus on figuring this out. I know I should be using Spotify but for some reason I'm the only person on earth stuck on using YouTube Music because...I don't know, somehow I got comfortable with it."

      I pay for Apple and Amazon Music subscriptions, but rarely use them. I helped my wife make a list on Apple Music and when I ask Alexa to play something she obliges with a version from Amazon Music. My Spotify and Pandora trials of long ago never really converted to a paying subscription, even though I always hear Spotify is The One and I have a nagging feeling I need to revisit it.

      I simply settled into YouTube Music and didn't know why. The My Endless Playlist is where I default 98% of the time and it just keeps getting better, I guess because when I do things like skipping songs, it guesses correctly that I've heard that one enough, let's move on.

      Since I like to run and bike, one of my favorite features is the way it creates an offline playlist for me that I like that I never had to think about. If there's a song I don't like, I double-tap my Airpods to skip it and chances are it won't appear in my offline playlist anymore.

      I have a vague notion that YT Music throws in performances from unknown artists, maybe just someone in their home. I think wait, a pro service like Spotify wouldn't do this, who am I listening to and why? But the thing is I usually like it so it stays and I keep wondering who I'm listening to.

      For example, I like the song Rockabye by Clean Bandit. YouTube threw a version in from Madilyn Bailey. Who? The strange thing is it stays in my playlist because I like it. I had no idea who she was until I asked Wikipedia for this post.

    • It's my view that music discoverability should, in 2018 and beyond, be a central consideration in choosing a streaming service, and it should be a central element in any review on the subject.

      Couldn't agree with you more!

      Up until Spotify came out with a subscription service, which now seems likes years ago, I carefully managed all of my music collection in iTunes. Until one day I asked my coworker why he was so fond of Spotify. His reply was simple: "It is so easy to discover new music".

      In the old school music economy, where you had to purchase songs one-by-one, there is a bias towards listening over and over to the songs you already have. After all, you've invested so much money in your collection, it makes sense to maximize your return, instead of spending more. 30 second previews of the songs left "music discovery" feeling like work instead of joy.

      That all changed with Spotify and YouTube Music for me. I now enjoy discovering music with algorithms doing the hard work and I love the fact that having a subscription encourages me to explore rather than re-listen. Occasionally I refine my music preferences by giving algorithms signals ("liking", "thumbs up" etc.) as I listen to the endless stream of music, which generate better mixes and recommendations.

      I found that YouTube Music actually has better recommendation engine and serendipity than Spotify. But I use both for different contexts: YouTube Music for Apple TV music videos, while Spotify for songs. I still create playlists though because there are songs I just can't get enough of and having a quick access sometimes is mission critical.

    • This topic has been rolling around for a while so thanks for providing a venue for me to post it!

      I also have an Amazon Music account for the Echo only, which is great because my 6 year old can ask for music whenever he wants (as he obviously doesn't have a phone). He likes Johnny Cash and Santana best.

      Interestingly, someone on Twitter today commented that they get unofficial covers of songs from YouTube Music too - it wasn't something I had noticed myself, although that doesn't mean I haven't been served them as well.

      The algorithm does seem to be very responsive to skips or likes and so that does mean things should keep getting better.

    • Great points. Interestingly, the one thing I don't use YouTube Music for is music videos; I don't have anything against them, it's just that most often I'm not looking at my screen when I'm listening (I'm either using head phones/ear buds or am connected to speakers). I wondered how much of a problem that might be at first but I just keep the player in audio only mode.

      Part of the YouTube Music service also gives me ad-free YouTube videos though so, when I am using my screen to watch videos, I definitely get the full benefit.

      I can't comment on how the recommendation engine compares to Spotify overall but the YouTube Music engine is definitely faster to get my preferences. Spotify's Discover Weekly specifically says that it needs to learn your tastes "for a few weeks" but, with YouTube Music, it took about an hour of set up and "liking" songs and pieces of music.

      I really like your mention of the "old school music economy" which I was obviously invested in prior to streaming. For me though, that is where creating playlists was so important, because I didn't like it when I'd start humming the start of the next album track in the gap between tracks. Playlists were great for mixing things up.