4 Things You Need to Know About Apple Music

Will the new streaming service slay Pandora and Spotify? We look at it's most distinct features, from price to curation.
Apple Music

On Monday, Apple announced its new music streaming service, Apple Music, available on iOS starting June 30. (Android users can jump on board this fall.) The service seems similar to Beats Music, a company Apple bought last year, although Apple has put their own twist on things.

So what are the most important takeaways from the Apple Music announcement?

Free Trial and Family Plan

Meant to compete with services like Spotify, Apple Music service launches with three-month free trials on June 30. After that, it will cost $9.99 a month for an individual or $14.99 a month for a six-person "family plan."

The individual cost is fairly standard for this type of service; it's the same monthly fee Spotify, Rdio, Tidal, and Beats Music charge for standard premium service. But, if you have many people in your house who'll use it, Apple Music (for as little as $2.50 per person) starts to stand out.

While Spotify and Rdio also offer discounted group rates, they charge $14.99 for two people or $29.99 for five, which is significantly less affordable. While Spotify has said they "expect to offer competitive pricing everywhere in the near future" it remains to be seen if the company will be able to follow through.

Radio Stations

Keynote speakers described it as a "music ecosystem" that would include music purchases, music streaming, social network features, and a live radio station called Beats1. Beats1 will be run 24/7 by three DJs: Zane Lowe, formerly of BBC Radio One; Ebro Darden; and Julie Adenuga. It's implied that more stations may follow.

Expert-Curated Playlists

In addition, Apple Music will offer expert-curated playlists, which speakers were careful to contrast with the algorithm-based playlists offered by services like Pandora. You can pick playlists based on music genre or by the activity they're meant to accompany, like some fast-paced exercise music or mellow relaxation tunes.

"Connect," Social Media, and Exclusive Content

One interesting inclusion is the feature they're calling "Connect." Connect will allow artists to upload their own music, photos, and messages to share with fans. In many ways, it's a social networking feature, similar to following an artist's blog, but Apple suggested they hope it assists savvy unsigned artists in helping fans discover their work.

Of course, how useful it will be to those artists depends heavily on how many users Apple is able to draw in, and how successful it is at getting users to the social networking side of the app. With Apple's extensive current userbase for iOS and iTunes and their offer of a lengthy free trial, it seems likely that they'll be able to pull in a large userbase.

Some big music names will be acting as guest DJs for Apple - will.I.am, Dr. Dre, Pharrell, and Drake - are likely to provide exclusive content through Connect as well. If Apple Music can tempt many such artists into using the social side of their platform, it becomes more attractive for users.

Are you looking forward to trying out Apple Music? If so, what's the big draw? Price, human-curated stations, Connect, or something else? Let us know in the comments.

Erin Coduti
DealNews Contributing Writer

Formerly a content writer for DealNews, Erin Coduti now brings that experience to the blog team as a freelancer. Previously, she wrote for a television news station and a literary fan magazine.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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I'm definitely not interested, at least if my impression is correct that this will only work on Apple devices (with the possible exception of PCs).
Anthony S Jennings
iTunes Radio, it's Pandora-like service, doesn't directly compete with Beats One radio or it's on-demand streaming service.

iTunes Radio is totally driven by algorithms. Beats One is apparently a traditional radio-style service, and it's live, with real DJ's playing a mix of popular established artists and new/underground/obscure stuff. If you've ever listened to the weekend programming on BBC One (from the UK, think that). Beats One appears to be more like TuneIn Radio in that regard, but instead of having thousands of stations, Beats One is all those rolled up into one.

The on-demand service is essentially you choosing whatever song or album you want to hear and having it play instantly. No interference from an algorithm or a DJ. That service, though, will purportedly learn your tastes and then make recommendations (but won't force you to listen to those recommendations).
B from C
I don't see how this could possibly compete with Pandora. Especially for those who listen to more obscure music other than the Top 40 hits on iTunes. Also, if their magic pixie dust algorithm for guessing what I like is anything like you get from iTunes radio stations than it fails horribly compared to a Pandora station that has had thumbs up and thumbs down input for a couple years.

Tried Spotify, went right back to Pandora. Amazon Prime music, Google Play, etc... Pandora is about the only service that I find more entertaining than hitting random on my own mp3 collection.
I subscribe to iTunes Match which included commercial free iTunes Radio. Does this mean that Apple is doing away with this service? I wouldn't be interested in subscribing to this new service. I'd rather listen to commercials on Pandora for free.