Pure Music is now live, with a one month free trial. I gave it a good thrashing yesterday, building up a couple of playlists I have on Spotify, one a personal collection of tracks over the years, the other music from the many episodes of Mad Men.
The web interface is Spotify-esque. You create playlists either by dragging an album, or naming a playlist and dragging individual tracks to it. You can add further tracks to an album playlist. The playlists are available on the Flow under 'Pure Music' and on the iPod/iPad/Android, and of course on the computer. The quality at 128Mbs is fine.
The database is from 7digital, so millions of tracks. However, you quickly find that the streaming rights are a work in progress. If you hover over the play button for a track it will say either 'play track' or 'play preview'. Only the former will drag to a playlist or play the full track. The latter will not drag, and will only play a 30 second preview. So on the first Spotify playlist of fairly standard stuff I could drag 58 of 75 on Pure Music, and 51 of 58 on the second, more obscure playlist. So not bad at this stage. You can of course buy any track or album (DRM free), but that rather defeats the object for me.
There is stuff available to stream that is not available on Spotify - notably the Adele '21' album.
Tagging of tracks heard on the radio is fully supported and free. Any tagged tracks are there to view in the web interface, to play or add to a playlist if desired (and permitted!). One quirky feature of the rights issue is that while you may well find that the track you want is preview only in the first 18 tracks listed, if you click on 'See more' and move through the pages you may well find the same track from a different album is available to play. You can't drag from these lists, but if you click on the album name that is the source of the track, you can then drag it to a playlist. Cumbersome - a candidate for an early update is to allow dragging from any page of the 'See more' lists (Jason?).
But it does all work, and the ability to play playlists directly on the radio is superb - no more fussing with having to have the computer on to run Jamcast or Sensiio. It has to be worth £4.95 a month for the radio side of things alone.
At the moment you need to stream, so internet or 3G is needed. An offline mode must be very much in Pure's thoughts, at least for the iPod etc., though that might produce a premium subscription rate!
In conclusion? The huge advantage of playing directly over the Flow, with the attendant sound quality, is the killer feature for me. Oh, and if you press the shuffle button on the remote, the playlists are shuffled. (for those without a remote, the option is under 'Options - Pure Music Settings')