The killer user experience: Apple Music

user experience

By Brooke Ballard, {grow} Contributing Columnist

A little over a year ago I treated myself to a BMW X3 on my birthday. It came with a yearlong subscription to Sirius Radio, which I loved.

But when May rolled around and they wanted 25+ dollars a month to renew, my soon-to-be husband said NO WAY. “Highway robbery” he called it.

I’m a huge music fan, but most of what I listen to isn’t played on the “regular” radio. I’m convinced that listening to mostly commercials and the same number one hit played every 20 minutes is the leading cause of road rage.

Enter Apple Music to save the day. Enter a seriously great user experience (UX).

While there are plenty of critics, my marketing eyes (and ears) are constantly being dazzled.

Here’s why …

Personalization & Customization

Like Pandora and other music services, Apple Music asks for your music tastes when you first sign in. The site allows you to customize your preferred channels and artists and then offers personalization with entire playlists that are curated based on your picks.

But Apple Music takes user experience and personalization to a whole new level because every time I log in I’m greeted with one or two new playlists under ‘For You.’

user experience

These are not new channels or lists I had to create, the system is learning based on my actions, like allowing me to click a little heart next to any song, playlist or artist to show my love.

And trust me, that little emoticon heart they’re using is no accident … but that’s another post altogether.

User Experience Design For Music Lovers

To me, it feels like Apple went to a lot of effort to think about me as a music lover, not as an Apple customer (I’m sure they had both in mind).

For instance, I can do the following actions for ease of use:

  • Add any song, album or playlist to My Music (at no extra cost)
  • Make any song, album or playlist available offline — meaning I don’t need WiFi or cellular data to listen
  • I can share my Apple Music with anyone designated to my shared group, or by text, mail, social, etc.
  • When listening to Apple Music radio, there are NO commercials (not even little ones like on Sirius) and I can even play next or previous … it’s like DVR for the radio minus the commercials … I mean, SERIOUSLY!
  • Under ‘New’ I can keep up with what’s hot, curated lists by people in the know, and view song charts


And with my fiancé’s newer car, we can use Siri to play any music our hearts desire with a push of a button and the command, “Siri, play [enter song title].” You can even say, “Siri, play top hits from the 80s.” SWOON.

We were cracking ourselves up asking her to play possible wedding entrance songs like This Is How We Do It  and Regulate for our bridal party after meeting with the DJ earlier this week.

She will literally find any song to play for you. It rocks!

It seems Apple thought about some of the frustrations music lovers have with other sites — commercials, needing WiFi to play, having to pay for a service AND the music you want to keep — and tried to eliminate those pain points.

Any marketer can glean something from that.

UX For Marketing Minds, Too

With curated playlists named things like, “Sleek And Sexy Pre-Dinner Drinks | Dinner might have to wait if you’re not careful” or “Beach Body Beats | It’s time to strut your stuff” I’m constantly giggling at my newfound music go-to.

Not only has Apple managed to curate playlists with a mix of what I’ve said I like by punching the heart button, they’re opening me up to new artists and songs I haven’t yet heard of.

And they’re really clever/funny/tongue in cheek about it. AND it’s only 9.99 a month after my three-month free trial — which includes all the music I want to add to my collection.

Don’t you wish every marketing campaign you ever created was able to offer that?!

Yes, I’m sure there are plenty of Apple Music critics (I haven’t had any of the problems they’ve complained about).

Whether or not you like Apple or Apple Music, I think looking at what they’re doing from a user experience standpoint is sound advice for any marketer.

What about you? Have you had experiences with Apple Music or other sites that are creating killer examples of user experience? Let me know in the comments section below!

See you in the social sphere!

Brooke Ballard for {grow}Brooke Ballard is an in-the-trenches digital marketer & owner at B Squared Media, blossoming blogger, and  a purveyor of psychographics. Her mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout on Twitter.


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