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5/30/2014 - Beats Electronics to be acquired by Apple - MOG closing May 31st - and thoughts on other music services (Music - News)

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Beats Electronics to be acquired by Apple - MOG closing May 31st - and thoughts on other music services
Friday, May 30th, 2014
16:30:48 GMT

Music
News

(Note, 6/1/2014, 1:09 PM: I've updated and corrected this post a little.)

Some simultaneously good (maybe) and bad news - Beats Electronics*, owner of the Beats Music* streaming music service, is going to be acquired by Apple* for $3 billion dollars, which I've read will be Apple's largest purchase ever.

Here's a page from Apple.com announcing the news:

Apple to Acquire Beats Music & Beats Electronics


This might be good news for Beats Music customers, insofar as Apple probably has the resources and ability to make Beats Music into a great, top-notch service - which Beats Music most definitely is not yet, judging by all the unhappy customers at the Beats Music support forum.

Perhaps Apple will have the wisdom to bring back the many wonderful features of the much better streaming music service MOG, which, according to the MOG article in Wikipedia, Beats acquired around July 2012 for a mere $14 million - far less, in my opinion, than the makers of MOG deserve.

Judging by posts to the Beats Music support forum, many of MOG's best features are still mostly missing from Beats Music, despite Beats Music having launched last January.


Apple should be capable of fixing Beats Music's alleged audio quality problems - problems which a very knowledgeable-seeming MOG customer described in some MOG support forum posts and some Beats support forum posts.

And, on the same Beats support forum page, there's a post by a different Beats/MOG customer who compared waveforms of MOG and Beats audio of the same song, and thought they looked significantly different from each other. A small quote (see this page for the entire original post):

"I also noticed the adjusted waveforms did not match each other too closely, so there's more different than just the volume."


Another potential benefit of Apple acquiring Beats Music is the fact that, if Apple wants to, Apple would definitely be capable of providing top-quality, lossless audio - higher than 320 kbps quality, and even better than MOG.

But will Apple actually do any of the above good things, or will they try to coast along on marketing hype without putting so much effort into creating and providing truly top quality products and services? I don't know, but I guess we'll see. If I ever am truly impressed by what Apple and Beats Music achieve, I'll let you all know someday.


Even though I'm not a fan of Apple, even I have to admit that sometimes Apple does a reasonably good job at designing things and making them pleasant and easy enough to use - though I'm still far more satisfied with my customized Lucid Puppy Linux 5.2.8 version 004 than with Mac OS X Lion.

In my opinion, Puppy* mauls Lion, in quite a lot of important ways which you can get an idea of by reading this thing I wrote: What is free, libre, open source software?

Thank goodness it's possible to run Puppy Linux on Mac hardware! I've successfully run Puppy via a live CD or DVD on both a MacBook from 2009, and a Mac Pro desktop computer from Feb. 2008. (I tried Lucid Puppy Linux 5.2.8, probably version 004, on the MacBook, and Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux - not sure what version - on the Mac Pro.) That makes Macs in general far more useful and enjoyable for me to use. :-)


Judging by my experiences with Apple products (when I'm not running Linux, also known as GNU/Linux*, on them), and also judging by many comments I've read in various places around the web - in my opinion, Apple definitely isn't as great as their hyped-up reputation, and many people think Apple has messed many things up that were apparently much better before.

For example, why did Apple get rid of something as fun and awesome as HyperCard*?! Also, I've seen many comments which claim that all MacOSes after Snow Leopard have been inferior. (Which reminds me of what many people, including me, think of all Windows* versions beyond Windows XP.)

In any case, I guess time will tell if Apple fixes Beats Music up to the point of being as good as or better than MOG, or if they'll mess Beats Music up even more than it already was.

I'm guessing they'll most likely improve Beats Music, at least to some extent (hopefully at least equal to or better than MOG) - but, who knows? We'll see.


Sadly - even if Apple someday manages to make Beats Music equal to or better than MOG, there might very likely still be reasons - both ethical and practical reasons - not to buy Apple products.

See Richard Stallman's page Why you should not buy Apple computer products for more details.

Or even this, by me (which I already linked to above): What is free, libre, open source software?


Also, I will be surprised if Beats Music ever ends up with Roku* or Chromecast* capabilities now, because Apple has a competing product, the AppleTV*. But, who knows?


In any case, since MOG is closing tomorrow (May 31st), I'm going to have to find a new music service to use. (Or, I can save $5 to $10 a month by doing without one for a while.)

Currently, the music services I find most interesting and appealing are Qobuz* and WiMP*. Apparently, they provide top-quality lossless audio!

Both are too expensive for me at the moment, and I haven't even tried them yet. But, despite the fact that those services are based in Europe, Americans posting to this page in the MOG support forum reported success subscribing to them.


Other than those two, the alternatives I'm most interested are Sony's Music Unlimited, and Google Play Music All Access, neither of which I've tried yet.

Music Unlimited has an Access plan for $4.99 per month - the same price as MOG's basic plan - with 320 kbps quality and a web player, and access via a Playstation 3* or Playstation 4*.

So, if I somehow manage to get a Playstation 3 or 4 (not likely in the near future given my and my family's endless financial problems), I'll be able to use that instead of my Roku to play music through my old stereo that I've had since 1995 (and which, happily, still mostly works fine).

I'm hoping Music Unlimited's audio quality will be at least as good as MOG's. Unfortunately, I don't know, because you can't just assume based on bitrate alone that every 320 kbps stream is just as good as any other. More details here.

Google Play Music is $9.99 per month, and I've read both good and a few bad things about it, many of which you can read in the previous link.


Spotify*'s Premium service is also $9.99 per month (or half that if you're a student), and at least has a Roku app. But, lately, Spotify's web player has gotten unbearably slow and awful in my web browsers. It used to work better, but now it's terrible for me.

(Addition, 6/1/2014, 10:56 AM. True, the web browser I usually use with Spotify is a bit obscure - Chromium 18.0.996.0 (Developer Build 116133 Linux) in Lucid Puppy Linux 5.2.8 version 004 - but, Spotify used to work much, much better for me before in the exact same web browser - same version and everything.)

At this point, Spotify's web player is actually even worse for me than Beats Music's web player was when I last tried it several months ago. At least Beats Music's web player was much faster for me than Spotify's is now.

Another notable thing about Spotify is that they now allow unlimited free streaming with quite noticeably inferior audio quality, though I think it's better than the audio in many YouTube* videos. It doesn't sound good enough for me to be happy to do without a higher-quality service, but, I appreciate the fact that it exists.


(Addition, 6/1/2014, 10:46 AM. I forgot to mention this before. When I contacted Spotify support on January 23rd, 2014 asking about their Roku audio quality, I got this very polite and informative reply:

"Hello there,

Thank you so much for taking the time to get in touch.

Our streaming quality is up to 320 Kbps at the moment. But I would recommend you to contact Roku support, because we've been working 192 kbps with them but it's possible that they are planning to increase it.

Feel free to get back in touch if there's anything else we can help you with.

Kind regards,"

[name omitted]

So, I'm unsure if Spotify's Roku audio quality is as good as I'd like, but, maybe that's resolved after all these months?)


Rdio* is finally upgrading to 320 kbps audio quality, according to their blog:

Rdio Partners with The Grateful Dead's Bob Weir to Improve Streaming Audio Quality

I tried Rdio back in March. Very slick interface, which Rdio is often praised for (and rightly so, in my opinion) - but, I still preferred MOG's interface. Also, I wasn't satisfied with Rdio's audio quality - which, as of March, hadn't yet been upgraded. Perhaps the audio quality is better now. I should try Rdio again sometime.

(Addition, 6/1/2014, 11:57 AM: Rdio's Unlimited plan is $9.99 per month, and they also have a free option, according to this page.

And, Rdio has a Roku app and Chromecast*, among other things, according to this page.

Edit, 6/1/2014, 1:06 PM. They have a 50% student discount on the Unlimited plan, and 50% off the Unlimited plan if you want web-only access, and some family plan discounts - all explained on this page. If you only have a 2-person family, it will cost $17.99 - but it's more than that if you have more people. So, Beats Music's $14.99 family plan "For up to 5 people and 10 devices" (according to this page) actually might cost significantly less than Rdio for many families.)


I will probably try Beats Music again at some point because a Beats Music mail I got on May 2nd said all Moggers can get 2 free months, and "This offer is available for ALL Moggers. Even if you already tried Beats Music."

However, I'm probably going to wait until Beats Music hopefully improves. If/when people on the Beats Music support forums start seeming happier in general, I might try it then.

(Addition, 6/1/2014, 10:49 AM. According to this Beats Knowledge Base page: "This offer can only be redeemed up to June 30th.")


If you liked this post or found it useful, donations or purchases of goods or services would be much appreciated!

As of May 30, 2014, I'm not actually selling any goods yet, but, maybe that will change sometime soon.


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