We get a subscription music service [Beats] that we believe is the first subscription service that really got it right. They had the insight early on to know how important human curation is. That technology by itself wasn’t enough — that it was the marriage of the two that would really be great and produce a feeling in people that we want to produce.
– Apple CEO Tim Cook on Beats Music Subscription Service
When I heard Apple had forked out $3 billion to acquire the Beats music subscription and headphone company I was greatly intrigued.
To my knowledge, this must be Apple’s costliest acquisition ever.
While there was no way I was going to pay $90 plus for a Beats headphone (sold at Best Buy and Amazon in the U.S.), I was willing to take a look at the Beats music subscription service (offered currently only in the U.S.).
Beats Music Service
So I headed to the Beats web site to check out the music subscription service.
Beats works on iPhones, Android and Windows smartphones plus on the web.
I gave Beats a spin, first on the iPhone and then on the web.
Downloading the Beats app and signing up for the 14-day free trial was a breeze and took about two minutes on my iPhone 5S (those with an AT&T cellular plan get a longer free trial)
Once you sign up, you’re asked to customize the service by picking three genres. I selected World, Jazz and Pop.
Then I was asked to pick three artists. My choices were Zakir Hussain, A.R.Rehman and Kishore Kumar.
Voila, I was ready to listen to music.
Tamil – Not Worth It
I tested the Beats service for three Indian languages – Hindi, Tamil and Kannada.
To my great disappointment, the Beats service proved to be lousy in all three languages.
The service is not intuitive and I had difficulty in doing basic things like deleting a song from My Library.
Then there’s the issue of selection.
Beats is a huge letdown here. I couldn’t find extremely popular albums in all three languages.
For instance in Tamil, I couldn’t find the old MGR film Ulagam Sutrum Valiban. Although Ulagam Sutrum Valiban is an awful film, the movie has lovely songs including Pachchai Killi, Ulagam Ulagam and Thanga Thoniyile.
For Mullum Malarum, I found only one song – Nitha Nitha Nelli Soru. Other popular albums that are missing include Tik Tik Tik and Sigappu Rojakkal.
Annakili is another famous Tamil album from the 70s that I struggled to find. I stumbled upon it only while searching for Ilayaraja’s music.
For the Rajinikanth film Kochadaiiyan and Sivaji, I could find only the Hindi albums. Yengae Poghudo Vanam was the only song from Kochadaiiyan’s Tamil album I could locate.
To my immense delight, I found the songs for Mouna Raagam.
My experience with Hindi songs was better but not great.
I found complete albums for Ram Leela and Mera Naam Joker but not for Aaradhana (I did find individual songs like Roop Tera Mastana).
Salman Khan’s No Entry is missing. The film includes one of my Bollywood favorites Ishq Ki Galli Mein.
Yes, the complete Slumdog Millionaire album is there.
Shailendra Singh’s famous song Hum Tum Ek Kamre from Bobby is listed only under Lata Mangheshkar.
I had a hard time with Kannada songs too.
Famous film albums like Eradu Kanasu, Bayalu Daari, Nagarahaavu and Auto Raja were missing.
Search for famous singers like P.B. Srinivas yielded few results.
Bottom Line – Bad
Overall, I was unimpressed with the selection from Beats subscription service for Indian film music.
Beats’ search quality also leaves a lot to be desired.
There’s no way I’d consider or recommend Beats for Indians.
Of course, I don’t expect Indian thieves to ever pay for an online music service. 😉
Beats costs $10 a month or $100 for a year.
Stay away from the Beats service.
There are plenty of free Indian services like Gaana that are far superior.