When Trent Reznor announced he was working with Jimmy Iovine and company on a music streaming / discovery service under the Beats brand, I was highly skeptical. For one, I can't stand Beats headphones or any of their audio products for that matter. I think they sound terrible and are far overpriced all things considered. However, I was able to check my bias at the door and give Beats a shot. Not because I was expecting it to be good, but the truth is no one has gotten this right yet. Pandora, Spotify, iTunes Radio: all of their algorithms suggest things that I would imagine an out of touch radio program manager or a major label marketing coordinator thinks I'm going to like. Just because they fall into the same genre on paper and I like A, does not mean I'm going to like B, even if they are "related".
So with mild hesitation I downloaded the Beats Music app. On first launch, I found the UI clean and refreshing. The intro process was really exciting. It presented me with these floating bubbles and was asking me to pick genres I did like, and hold those floating bubbles for genres I did not like.
After that, it prompted me to start picking artists I like from an interesting group of suggestions based on the genres I had selected in the previous menu. It took me a while to catch that I can choose my level of love for an artists by tapping on them again.
Once it was finished processing my selections it brought me to the main landing page with a shockingly impressive list of albums to check out and curated playlists that completely got me. It even suggested songs from artists I love that I overlooked years ago (see Sneaker Pimps Post Modern Sleaze). As the week has gone on, it hasn't let me down. Its pointed me in new directions and revived my love of curating awesome playlists.
Overall this is a huge win for music lovers. While this doesn't replace walking into Tower Records (am I that old?) and having a conversation with an employee who recommends something slightly left field of what you enjoy, this is about as close as it will get, and I'm ok with that.