In 2014, Apple bought out Beats Music. From that point on, it was just a waiting game to see how they would use it to enter the music streaming arena. Based on the determination to be the innovators, it was a fair bet that they would completely revamp Beats to make it their own.
Enter Apple Music, an app that kept very little of Beats’ personality and adds a lot of Apple identity. The app is a full-featured music app. It will be pre-installed on all iOS devices, which is something that irritates some users who like to remove apps that are not used. Personally, there are a few I’d like to get out of the way, but I’m stuck with the Apple Watch icon whether I like it or not.
Apple Music is not to be confused with iTunes. Media in iTunes is rented or owned and stored in your digital library. iTunes acts as both the store and the storage. Apple Music is all streaming for a fee. One flat fee unlocks the catalogue for listening, but not owning, the music.
Apple Music, in addition to streaming, has three key features: Beats 1, curated playlists, and Connect. Beats 1 is a 24 hour radio broadcast from DJs in LA, NYC, and London. Curated playlists are constructed from music you listen to and tailored to your likes. Unlike apps that use algorithms, these lists are going to be created by real people. At least that’s what Apple says. It seems like a pretty lofty goal unless there are thousands of people who like similar music. Connect is a social feature for fans to follow artists. Artists share content or photos for promotion. How many artists have committed to Connect is unknown. So far, Pharrell Williams, FKA twigs, Chris Cornell, and Bastille are confirmed.
Subscribers will have access to 30 million songs and an unknown number of music videos along with Beats 1, curated playlists, and Connect for $9.99 per month for an individual or $14.99 per month for a family subscription using iCloud Family Sharing for up to six people.
Apple Music will be available for a free three month trial starting June 30.
iTunes will not evaporate. It is a separate entity and may change slightly, but the ability to purchase and own your media and store it on iTunes is not going to change… at least not yet. Of course, Apple Music claims a library of 30 million songs, but iTunes has over 43 million. What songs won’t be included? Likely those whose owners have not settled on deals for the rights, such as the Beatles’ music. There’s no way to know what is missing until the app launches.
Should you spring for the subscription? If you use streaming music services now, you may like Apple Music’s integrated features. With the option for a three month free trial, it’s worth a try. If you like it, keep it. If not, head back over to Spotify.