With over 40 million songs and 27 million subscribers, Apple Music has struck a chord with music lovers around the world.
What is Apple Music?
Apple Music is Apple's answer to music streaming services like Spotify and Pandora. As with those services, Apple Music features a vast library of songs that can be streamed to a variety of modern devices wherever and whenever you want – so long as you're connected to the Internet, of course.
What makes Apple Music different to other streaming services?
Launched on 30 June 2015, Apple Music takes a different approach to music streaming than many of its competitors. For starters, it's a paid service exclusively – there is no free, ad-supported subscription tier as there is with Spotify and other services.
To justify its mandatory price tag, Apple Music offers a number of features the competition doesn't. Prime amongst these is Beats 1, a 24/7 Internet radio station hosted by experienced DJs like Zane Lowe and Ebro Darden. Along with a curated selection of music from new artists across all genres, Beats 1 features exclusive interviews with popular artists like Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars. While Beats 1 doesn't require an Apple Music subscription to tune into, subscribers get access to additional music-only stations and can go back and listen to past Beats 1 shows on-demand.
Beats 1 – and Apple Music in general – came about as a result of Apple purchasing the audio hardware manufacturer Beats Electronics in 2014. This deal gave Apple access to Beats Music, Beats Electronics' own music streaming service. Apple then leveraged the existing technology and expertise provided by Beats Music to inform the creation of Apple Music.
One of Apple Music's greatest strengths is its range of curated playlists put together by Apple's team of "music experts". What it takes to qualify as a "music expert" might not be clear, but the playlists they create cover an extensive number of genres, moods and activities. With playlists for gym junkies, golden oldies and the most selective of audiophiles, there's plenty on offer for music lovers of all tastes.
Personalised curation is another area where Apple Music proves its worth. Like Spotify, it builds a custom playlist for you every week based on what you've been listening to. Because Apple Music has a wider variety of new and undiscovered artists, though, there's a greater chance you'll stumble across something you've never heard before.
Apple also hopes to differentiate Apple Music by introducing original video content to the service. In February 2017, Apple Music executive Jimmy Iovine announced plans to turn the service into a "cultural platform" as opposed to just a platform for streaming music. The first steps in this plan involved the release of a reality TV show entitled Planet of the Apps produced by the music artist Will.i.am on 6 June 2017, followed by a documentary on rap icon Puff Daddy that launched on 25 June 2017.
While it's too early to judge the success of Apple's expansion into video, the recent hiring of two Sony TV executives involved in the creation of shows like Breaking Bad and Shark Tank along with the purchase of the Carpool Karaoke TV series make it clear that Apple has big plans for Apple Music in the future.
Like anything with the Apple name attached to it, Apple Music has proven phenomenally popular right across the world. Just six months after its launch, it had reached a customer base of 10 million paying users – that's 12 times faster than it took Spotify to hit the same number. By June 2017, Apple Music had surpassed 27 million paying users.
On top of its swiftly expanding user base, Apple Music is also extending its global reach into territories its competitors have yet to enter. 115 countries currently have access to the service – in comparison, Spotify is available in just 60 countries worldwide.
Despite its popularity, it's worth mentioning that some users have encountered issues with the way Apple Music integrates with their iCloud libraries. When trying to add music from iCloud to Apple Music, certain users have had songs show up twice, album art not transfer correctly and some tracks vanish entirely. Apple has yet to acknowledge these issues with an official response.
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What music is available on Apple Music?
Apple Music boasts one of the largest streaming music libraries out there, with over 40 million tracks in its catalogue. There's not much you won't find in there, with everything from the latest hip-hop hits to the hardest classic rock.
As a bonus, any music in your iTunes library – regardless of whether it was purchased from iTunes or ripped from a CD – can be played through Apple Music, saving you from having to maintain multiple libraries for all your music.
What devices are compatible with Apple Music?
Apple Music works with a number of different devices both inside and outside the Apple ecosystem. These are:
- iPod touch
- Apple TV
- Apple Watch
- Android smartphones and tablets
- Cars with CarPlay support
For iOS devices, Apple Music can be accessed through the Apple Music app on any device running iOS 8.4 or higher. Android devices have their own version of the app that requires Android 4.3 or higher. On PC and Mac, meanwhile, you'll need iTunes 12.2 or later installed to listen to your Apple Music library.
How much does Apple Music cost?
There are a few different options for subscribing to Apple Music. New members can sign up for a three-month trial for just 99c, with access to all the same features full members enjoy. It's a cheap way to see if the service is right for you, but just remember to cancel before the three months is up if you don't want to continue your subscription, since memberships are set to automatically renew by default.
Once the trial period is over, Apple Music will run you $11.99 a month for a single subscription. Alternatively, you can purchase a 12-month Apple Music gift card for $119.00, effectively scoring you two months free.
If you're a student, Apple Music is available at a discounted price of $5.99 a month. Student memberships have to be verified by Apple before you'll get access to the discount, and they only last up to a maximum of four years.
Families can get an even better deal with a Family membership to Apple Music. At $17.99 a month, this allows up to six people to use Apple Music through iCloud's Family Sharing feature.