As crucial deadline approaches, Apple finally explains how Apple Music works

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Apple Music is ugly and hard to use.
Apple is finally getting serious about explaining Apple Music to the masses.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

With just days to go before free Apple Music trials start to expire, Cupertino is finally getting serious about explaining exactly how its streaming music service works.

A new wave of “guided tour” videos demystifies Apple Music’s functionality and features — but will this marketing and educational push be too little, too late to stop a wave of defectors from leaving the fledgeling service at a critical time?

Apple Music faces its first true test this week, when the three-month free trial period lapses for early adopters. While Apple refuted an early report that nearly half of the service’s subscribers had already bailed, the company has delivered precious little hard data on Apple Music’s success (or lack thereof).

Nor has there been the kind of sustained marketing blitz that many industry observers expected: In fact, Apple Music was barely mentioned during Apple’s recent iPhone 6s media event.

“They avoided talking about Apple Music because they don’t have to,” firebrand music blogger Bob Lefsetz told Cult of Mac after the show. “There’s bad news coming, they’ve got to wait at least 90 days until the free subs start to roll off.”

To be fair, Lefsetz has been a vocal critic of Apple Music from the get-go, saying “it’s toast” as far back as June. But just last week he hammered on Apple Music’s functionality failure, saying the company’s desire to continue supporting the slowly dying iTunes is a big reason for the cluttered interface that makes the service difficult for some people to navigate.

How (and why) to use Apple Music

Apple Music benefits from the installed iOS user base, but Apple has done precious little to explain why the average music lover might want to use the service.

The videos Apple released today should help — if enough people watch them. While Apple Music isn’t that much less confusing than its main competitor Spotify, it can seem overwhelmingly complex to people who are new to streaming.

And that’s precisely the audience Cupertino needs to capture if it’s going to achieve critical mass. It needs to grab the attention of streaming latecomers who can be wooed by the value proposition of a massive catalog of all-you-can-eat, on-demand, advertising-free music for just $9.99 a month (as well as Apple Music’s reasonably priced family plan, which opens up the party to up to six users for just $14.99 per month).

Apple Music guided tour videos

The guided tour videos are just like the ones Apple did for Apple Watch earlier this year. Those informative videos showed off how the wearable works with Siri and explained its fitness and financial capabilities.

In this case, the concise how-to videos explain the inner workings of the Apple Music app, from the New and For You pages to playlists and the underutilized Connect service, which lets musicians push exclusive content to fans.

Now, if only Apple will do the same thing for the Mac version of Apple Music …

You can watch all the videos below. If you haven’t started your own free three-month trial, sign up today and give A a whirl. (And if you signed up at launch, and aren’t happy with the service, don’t forget to cancel your automatic Apple Music subscription renewal before the end of the month.)

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  • Kev

    LOL at these adjective. Fledgling.

  • gbs

    I gave up trying to figure out how to search for Apple Music content from iTunes. I looked for weeks and weeks. Finally, in my third month I happened to notice a small double rectangle appear in the area to the right of the AirPlay icon. Floating my mouse over anything else tells you what it does. Not the secret Apple Music icon that appears when you mouse over it. I was finally able to search for music. The popup window to use Apple Music is something Apple would do in 2003. Back to Spotify Premium..

  • Techsticles

    Are people really that stupid that they can’t figure out Apple Music?

    It’s very simple. For You is Discover and New is Browse and Connect is where you can tell artist that you can’t find the song you searched for. Now that you you understand that, just watch these 30 minutes of video on how to use Apple Music so Apple doesn’t have to fix anything.

    I’m still using Apple Music mostly so I can AirPlay to multiple speakers, tell Siri what to play and for Apple Watch integration but it’s really a mess. After hours everyday I didn’t even know there was an additional Playlists section between Featured and Connect.

    Besides the going around in circles to get to where you want, the most annoying part is that you can’t continue playing the song you were listening to on the iPhone on the iPad or Mac from where you left off. You have to search in circles all over again.

  • Ben Kenon

    Apple Music: the worst thing to happen to my iPhone since Apple Maps.

    #FreeiTunes

  • Aannddyy

    It took me about ten minutes to figure out all the features of Apple Music. I use it all the time and I love it.
    I found out what parts of the system I like and that is what I use.

    • Stetch

      I cant get into my mind how people can have a difficult time handling Apple Music.

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  • Joshua Mark Voss

    I love Apple Music just for the fact that Apple FINALLY added a quene feature to the playlists after YEARS OF FRUSTRATION AND ANTICIPATION of waiting for them to get it through their thick skulls that adding permanent playlists is such a huge pain in the ass. But to be able to quene music that I have and haven’t bought for a one time only playlist instead of having one I probably would never use again is AMAZING. I could never thank them enough for finally making the music app better. It is rather annoying having to open up iTunes to buy music, though. They should just merge both apps instead of having to open up iTunes to buy music.

    • kavok

      What is this “quene” you speak of??

  • Brunno Silva

    Honestly I still don’t understand why my songs get deleted all the time! And sometimes when I tried to add more then once I end up with the same song/album twice -_- I am probably going back to Spotify. Still have 2 weeks or so…

  • kavok

    The whole Music app has become nearly unusable. Intuitive interface has gone out the window, leaving cryptic dots and hidden controls. These videos prove my point. Trying to see an album listing from a song that is playing is a pain in the ass. No consistency in where to look for stuff. If you don’t have an Internet connection Siri is worthless too.

    I really wish they would flush iTunes and start over fresh.