Let's take a trip back in time, shall we? The year is 2008. A 16-year-old version of me sits at his desk typing and clicking away furiously on his HP laptop. His concentration is so intense that hours pass without notice as he continues to type and click, type and click, pause for a sip of some sugary drink that's terrible for him… and then back to typing and clicking. What is this ridiculously good-looking but also terribly naive young man doing? Well, he's perfecting his iTunes library, of course. He's invested hundreds of dollars into his music collection, which consists of CDs, MP3s, t-shirts, stickers, bracelets, posters, and more, all from his favorite bands. He takes pride in showing off his collection to others, and all of his friends think he's cool because he has "like, the best taste in music ever." His music library has become central to his identity. It's what he's known for. And he spends all of his free time keeping up with his favorite bands, discovering new music, and tweaking his iTunes library so that every minute detail is exactly the way he wants it to be.
Fast forward to three months ago, the day before the launch of Apple Music. Now I'm 23 and in seminary. When I check my Timehop and see what I posted back in 2008, I realize that not only was I not as cool as I thought I was; my taste in music wasn't that great, either. But instead of trying to improve or expand it, I've basically let it become stale. Sure, I still keep up with a few of my absolute favorite bands and buy their new albums when they come out. But my passion has disappeared, and my music routine has basically become limited to listening to the same few songs over and over on the rare occasions that I actually feel like listening to music.
Not only that, but my iTunes library is a mess. Some artists are listed multiple times with slightly different spellings or with "featuring so-and-so" at the end. Albums are missing artwork. There's even a song that has a typo in the title. It's been that way for years, and I've never bothered to change it even though I know it would take approximately three seconds to fix. That one misspelled song title is a symbol for my whole approach to my music library at this time: I just don't care about it.
And then, I wake up the next day and find out that Apple Music is live. I have to try it out, not because I'm excited about the service, but because I have a compulsive need to stay up-to-date on every software platform I can get my hands on. The first thing I think is, "Wow, that new Music icon is pretty cool." I tap it, and I immediately realize that Apple Music is so much more than I expected it to be. It's not just another music streaming service. It's a music streaming service that allows me to mix my streaming songs with my iTunes library. It's a music streaming service that already knows exactly what kind of music I love and suggests playlists that mix music I know with music I don't know but will soon come to love. It's a music streaming service that connects me with the artists I love so that I can keep up with everything they're doing while I enjoy their music. The second I experience Apple Music, it's like a switch gets flipped in my head, and I'm that 16-year-old music-obsessed kid all over again.
I spend the rest of the day obsessing over my music library. I fix all the mistakes that I've allowed to slip in over the years, and I even update some of my old album artwork with newer, higher-quality images. I look up every music artist I've ever had any interest in and add their "Intro To…" playlist to my library. As I explore the app, I remember songs I've heard that I loved, artists I've completely forgotten about, and albums I've wanted to buy for years but never could bring myself to shell out the money for. And now all this stuff is accessible to me. As much of it as I want. For free. And I can't get enough.
I listen to music all the time now. I listen to it at least as much as I did when I was 16, if not more. And now, I have the resources to enjoy my favorite music while also expanding my musical horizons through content discovery. I can finally have relevant conversations about current music trends because I have access to every song that's blowing up right now. And I can discover unknown indie artists and share them with my friends, something I loved doing when I was younger. I'm into music so much right now that I bought a brand new set of wireless headphones just so I could listen to my music in more places. I listen in my car, on my bike, when I'm shopping, when I'm cleaning, right after I wake up, right before I go to bed, and all kinds of times in-between.
And that's why I love Apple Music. It gave me the gift of loving music again. As silly as it may sound, it's been really good for me to reconnect with something I used to love so much. No, I'm not going to go 100% evangelistic fanboy on you like I once did. I won't start wearing band t-shirts again and scouring Google for the latest news on my favorite artists. But I am going to be able to enjoy music in a way that is not only fun, but also meaningful. And that's all thanks to Apple Music.
So tomorrow, when my free trial runs out, I'm going to happily pay the $10 required to stay subscribed to the service. Not only am I supporting artists and musicians. I'm supporting a wonderful music streaming service that has already done me a lot of good, and I'm giving myself even more opportunity to be encouraged, enlivened, and even edified by it more in the future. Apple Music is well worth the money to me, and I hope you'll give it a chance as well. Maybe it won't impact you as powerfully as it has me, but maybe it will. You'll never know unless you give it a chance. Who knows? You may end up three months from now in the same place I am now, handing Apple $10 a month for access to their music streaming service and smiling as you do it.
Well, that's my review of Apple Music! Thank you for checking it out. I know it's a little different than my usual reviews, but I wanted to be completely honest with you about why I love Apple Music so much, and that meant getting a little sentimental. There are obviously other, more objective, reasons why I love the service, and I'd be happy to discuss them with you in the comments, through my contact page, or on social media. I'd also like to know: Have you tried Apple Music? If you have, will you stick with it once the trial runs out? And if you haven't, why not? Let me know in the comments! I would absolutely love to hear from you.