Smartphone Reviews

Samsung Milk Music: Australian Hands-On

If there’s one thing the smartphone has done, it has well and truly killed the traditional MP3 player. The advent of streaming services like Spotify have shifted our music consumption from offline to online, and now there’s a new way for Samsung owners to listen in. Samsung wants to give you Milk Music, for free, on your Galaxy smartphone or tablet.

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Milk Music isn’t an a la carte music streaming service in the same vein as Spotify, Rdio or Deezer. Instead, it’s more like an Internet radio station, but one that you can tailor — heavily — towards your interests and musical tastes. Because of that, it’s not targeted towards the hardcore music listener that wants to build their own library of audio and have access to it at all times, but towards the everyday user that wants to set a single song or genre as a starting point and then work off that.

Exclusively available to Galaxy device family users, Samsung’s tagline for Milk is “a fresh spin on music”, and that’s very much true — purely because the one central control interface is a single spinning wheel, like a clock face with different musical genres at different points on that wheel. To start the Rock station, for example, all you have to do is tap and drag to the Rock section of the dial, and a track Because of that, it’s very very simple to use if you don’t want to delve deep into menus.

Beyond that initial radio dial, though, there’s a pop-up sub-menu with three sliders — varying your musical tastes and the subsequent playback from popular to obscure tracks, new to archival, and favourite to lesser-listened songs. It’s that sub-menu that might let you tailor Milk Music to your specific likes, and that might just be the difference between Milk Music merely being OK and it being genuinely likeable.

Milk Music is free, because it’s supported by ads, with Samsung open to both advertising audio between tracks and display ads. The music library is drawn from dozens of large and small music labels, and Samsung says it’s in conversations with “everyone” to expand the range. In the second half of the year, Samsung will apparently open up a premium tier of Milk Music in Australia, with a $3.99 monthly subscription fee opening up unlimited skips, no ads, and other features like higher quality streaming and temporary offline caching.

Because Milk Music is an Internet radio station first, rather than an a la carte music streaming service, it’s skewed somewhat towards popular, hit musicians and music rather than lesser-heard archival tracks. Swivelling around to Hip-Hop, Usher’s Yeah was the first track that popped up, and all the subsequent tracks were very mainstream. There seems to be quite a wide range of music on offer, too — there’s certainly no shortage of genres on offer. The downside is that if you feel like listening to a particular track, this is not the service for you.

Milk Music is simple, really, and that’s its hook. You don’t need to spend your time curating playlists or adding individual tracks — the humans at Milk do that for you. It’s free, too, and that’s always a big plus. Whether it unthrones the current streaming music giants remains to be seen. Samsung’s own potential userbase of Galaxy smartphone and tablet users is massive, and streaming radio competitor Pandora doesn’t have a huge foothold in Australia, so Milk may end up being the de facto default.

[Google Play]

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