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APPLE MUSIC: GETTING SOCIAL, AND SIRI ON THE WHEELS

In its product launch announcements, Apple has consistently positioned itself as a leader, declaring each product improvement as a game-changer. This week, while the world was listening to why they should fork over a grand for the iPhone X, the tech behemoth was quietly effecting changes that could help Cupertino make further strides in streaming music.

Via press release, Apple effectively announced that it would, like Spotify and Amazon, have playlist-sharing capabilities in Apple Music, enabling users to make Siri a DJ the way Alexa is on Amazon’s Echo.

Apple Music, in its two-plus years of existence, has operated in a more top-down, gatekeeper fashion, programming playlists and then pointing listeners to areas of the library they might enjoy. It makes sense in the Apple domain, a closed system where innovation and ease of use could be said to compensate for a lack of interconnectivity. It's also reflected the tastemaker bona fides of Jimmy and Larry.

But there were distinct advantages to the social components Spotify—and, more recently, Amazon—offered. Spotify realized that people need an outlet to express their personal taste and playlists have become a potent force in music discovery; Amazon knows users want ease of use. What could be easier than shouting, “Alexa, play Adele” when you sit down to dinner? Apple's Connect, the initial social piece of Apple Music, just wasn't social enough.

In the next iteration, users will be able to create an Apple Music profile to share recently played tracks, albums, playlists, and musical tastes with friends. In iOS 11, Siri becomes a DJ and uses your taste if you tell it “play something I like.”

It takes the conversation so many people of a certain age have on Facebook almost daily and migrates it to a place where that conversation can have a soundtrack. Spotify has proved it only means good things for the music business. Will the next time be the charm for Apple?

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