Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Beats Music adds the human factor to track curation, arrives minus Windows Phone

Beats Music, a new streaming music service with a twist, launched on Tuesday in the App Store and Google Play, but Windows Phone fans -- we assume it's Windows Phone although a slight old-school error was made -- does not launch until Friday, according to a tweet from Beats CEO Ian Rogers.

It's already nice enough to see Android and iOS launch on the same day, so perhaps it was asking too much to see a triumvirate including the beloved by some but badly trailing in market share Windows Phone. Of course, Rogers was thinking to way back before the iPhone (first generation) debuted, as he called it Windows Mobile. We know he meant Windows Phone, though.

In response to a query from Sam Sabri, Rogers tweeted:
@samsabri Hey Sam, Windows Mobile not launching til Friday. Sorry!
It's unclear if the issues delaying the WP app are technical or logistic, but either way, WP users can look forward to a short delay, only until Jan. 24.

Considering the long delays they have experienced for other apps to come to the still low-ranking platform, that should be good news (remember how long it took for Instagram to reach Microsoft's new(er) mobile OS?).

WP or not, the big question is whether or not consumers will pony up $9.99 monthly for the service. There is no free tier, unlike some other rivals, although Beats Music does give users a 7-day free trial.

After an end user downloads the app and creates an account, Beats Music asks a couple of straightforward questions. You pick your favorite genres of music, along with three of your favorite artists. Bests Music then sets up a lineup of songs.

As with other services (like Pandora), Beats Music will learn: you can tag the songs you like or dislike. You can also manually add a song to your library and playlists. If a single track is featured on an album, you can access that album to hear the rest of the tracks.

Unlike most services, though, Beats Music relies on human curation -- in addition to algorithmic curation -- to pick songs for end users. The site says:

Our curators are driven by a passion for music. They know the only thing as important as the song you’re hearing now is the song that comes next. Their expertise, combined with the best technology, always delivers the right music to you at the right time.
Those on AT&T wireless will receive the benefit of a deal between the two companies. Family plan subscribers can get a cut rate on the service -- $14.99 monthly for up to five family members and up to 10 devices. They also get a free trial of 90 days.

A lone subscriber gets a break, as well, with the price remaining the same as for other customers, but with a 30-day free trial period, instead of just seven.

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