Gadgets: Beats has a new way of serving up music

  • Updated: March 22, 2014 - 8:45 PM

Beats Music isn’t a Spotify killer, but if you’re just jumping in to streaming music, and you’re willing to pay, Beats Music is worth considering because it has a novel approach to recommending new music.

Photo: Kyle Fewell • New York Times,

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Beats Music, $10 a month, www.beatsmusic.com

 

There’s a new subscription music service in town, one that purports to know you and your music tastes better than you know them yourself. One that urges you to forget about what you think you like and surrender to a sea of playlists created by artists and celebrities.

This is Beats Music: Well funded, brightly designed and dripping with A-list panache. But is it enough to stand out in an increasingly busy field of subscription music services? With a combination of marketing, timing, name-dropping and a new wrinkle on subscription music, it just might be.

Beats has some immediate advantages. For one, the brand is cool. Anytime your team includes Dr. Dre, the music executive Jimmy Iovine and Trent Reznor, plus you throw a launch party with Mackle­more, Diddy and Ice Cube, you’ve got street cred.

Beats also has $60 million in ­marketing and promotion money, hardware tie-ins with some of the most popular headphone ­makers in the world and supposedly more ­artist-friendly royalties than ­Pandora or Spotify.

Beats Music is meant to be a curated recommendation service first, playlist creator second. The company hired individual curators like Scott Plagenhoef, former editor of the music site Pitchfork, and it also formed partnerships with Target, Rolling Stone magazine, the fitness chain SoulCycle, Thrasher skateboarding magazine and the Academy of Country Music to create, presumably, better lists than you can on your own.

These curators deliver custom playlists like SoulCycle Battle Vol. 2: Madonna vs. Lady Gaga vs. Beyoncé; or Rolling Stone’s Ode to a Biker Jacket. Naxos, a classical music label, put together You Can’t Handel This: The Best of Handel, and On The Rachs-maninov (who says classical isn’t cool?); while Target brings us Movie Songs for Kids.

You can also get your own customized recommendations based on genres you like and hate, as well as artists you like.

NEW YORK TIMES

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