What is Apple Music?

What is Apple Music

Thinking about what Apple Music is has been at the forefront of my mind since WWDC last week, being a person that listens to his own music alongside Spotify I'm really trying to get my head around what the service is and where I can get real benefit.

What does the service offer me?

Apple Music looks to want to put your own music in the same place as their streaming service with the addition of a radio station and a social network for musicians. The new Music app is split into several sections:

  • For you; this section is recommendations based on your music listening activity
  • New; simply to highlight new music additions to the store
  • Radio; Apple's new Beats 1 radio station along with curated playlists for different genres of music
  • Connect; where artists are able to share content with their fans, a one stop shop for social
  • My Music; your music library containing anything you have of your own plus anything you have saved from the service

What is the price?

If you want to use as an individual it's $9.99 a month and as a family plan (6 members) it's £14.99 a month.

Apple are offering a three month trial from 30th June.

What about iTunes Match?

iTunes Match allows you to upload your music collection to iCloud and access it from any device that has iTunes or the Music app. For me I upload from my iMac and stream to my iPad and iPhone. At £21.99 a year I feel that it's a great price to know that all my music is away from my local machine and available to me on all devices without the need of a sync taking up lots of room.

iTunes Match would appear to sit alongside Apple Music i.e. if you pay for Match all of your music is available to you everywhere you are (including anything not available in the iTunes Store) as you do now but have the addition of the streaming service.

I was hoping that Apple would include iTunes Match in the monthly Apple Music subscription but they are stating that they compliment each other i.e. they will keep both services running.

When does it start?

Apple Music comes with iOS 8.4 and will be released June 30th, along with the free three month subscription.

What is the music catalog like?

This is still a little sketchy and isn't going to be everything that is available to you in the current iTunes Store. The only real way to know this is to wait and see what's there in your free trial period.

Does it rival other streaming services?

This will depend on a few things

  • Quality of streaming; what I mean here is not necessarily what the bitrate is but how fast does it stream. I've been a user of Spotify, Google Music and Rdio and in my experience the best is Spotify but from recent use of iTunes Match Apple have stepped up their servers because streaming via iTunes Match is pretty instantaneous for me now compared to being very hit or miss six months ago when I last used it properly
  • Playlists; this is an area that I have loved with using Spotify and without testing Apple Music I have no idea how well it's going to compare. We don't have iTunes Radio in the UK so I don't know how good it has been but I'm hopeful given that a lot of what beats used to be continues with this service. The addition of Beats 1 is going to help bolster this, I'm just hoping that the station isn't just going to focus on popular music
  • Number of available tracks;

My thoughts

Although the keynote didn't show Apple at their best when it was presented now that I've read up more on it I'm hopeful that Apple have done enough to get a lot people hooked on this service. I genuinely believe that Beats 1 is a smart move and will grab some of the younger audience I.e. 18-25 and the addition of Zane Lowe (who already has a massive following) will only add to the smart move that Apple have made here.

The content available should at least match what the competition are doing and Apple could start to throw some money at artists to get some of those all elusive exclusive releases to help.

Connect is interesting and as long as artists can cross share to other social sites it could be easy to adopt but lacking an API I feel that it won't get artists to use it exclusively. Think of it like a directory, a place where it is all contained in one place i.e. an index but the content is sometimes also shared elsewhere.

The price point for single subscription is competitive and their family plan beats the rest of the market.

I'm looking forward to trying Apple Music out on the 30th like everyone else and as long as they can stream content to that amount of users I don't see how this is going to be anything other than a success to those users that either haven't fully adopted the streaming model (not married to a particular service) or want to save some money and get an affordable family plan.

It's going to be a great few months.