We’ve been waiting forever for Apple Music: A real streaming music product straight from the heart of Cupertino. Will it work? Or is this just the latest crap me-too service.
The basics: Apple Music doesn’t appear to have a free vibe, although starting June 30th, everyone will be offered a free three month subscription. Like everything other service out there, the premium price will be $10 per month. There’s also a $15 per month family plan for up to six family members, which is a pretty sweet deal, depending on how exactly it’s metered. And in a first, Apple will actually make the app available to Android.
Here is the nitty gritty on pricing:
So basically, it works like most other services except unlike Spotify there is no free on-demand tier. You get access to radio with limited skipping with just an Apple account. With an Apple Music membership, you get the whole shebang.
Apple’s new music offering is a whole year in the making. The original Beats Music product was announced back in January 2014, and despite being pretty darn impressive, it failed to garner more than fleeting attention. When Apple acquired Beats for $3 billion, it was clear that the acquisition was just as much about the Beats streaming service plus Dre and Jimmy Iovine as it was about the company’s profitable headphones. After a full year of rejiggering the service and negotiating new contracts, it’s not finally ready for primetime. Now, the company that revolutionized digital music with $.99 downloads is finally, finally getting into the streaming game.
Drake! Drake! It’s fucking Drake!
In service of the announcement, Apple trotted out its newly hired gun, record executive Jimmy Iovine, not to mention a host of top artists, like Trent Reznor, and FREAKING DRAKE! According to Iovine’s pitch, Apple Music is focused on three main things: A “revolutionary music service” (lol), 24/7 radio, and “connecting fans with artists.”
This is all a bunch of big talk, and it least initially, it doesn’t look too much different from what we got from iTunes before. But little by little, Apple Music starts to reveal itself to you. The “My Music” interface shows you two columns: Library and Playlists.
Library includes music in you’ve paid for and downloaded from iTunes, your personal collection of music you ripped from CDs (or BitTorrent), as well as stuff you’ve added from Apple Music’s catalog 30 million licensed tracks. The playlists include playlists you’ve made yourself as well as a large collection that have been curated by Apple employees. You’ll recall that playlist curation was the cornerstone of Beats Music.
Next up, is the radio bit called, amazingly enough, “Apple Music Radio.” The focus here, again, is curation. Human touch! Art and technology coexisting! The centerpiece of this offering is its world-wide 24-hour radio “Beats 1,” which is run by DJ guy Zane Lowe (in LA), Ebro Darden (in New York), and Julie Adenuga (In London). You might not have heard of these people before, but rest assured they are super famous deejays that will be your guides to the world of new hip tunes, ya dig, word, ON FLEEEEEK?
NYC, LA, and London. Global, huh? WELL SEE.
Besides the flagship station, there will be lots of stations curated by well-known deejays. The emphasis here, again, is curation, whereas iTunes Radio was largely algorithmic before.
The final piece of the new offering is Apple Music Connect which is basically a way for you to follow your favorite artists on Facebook and Twitter as well as through the app itself. It gives you access to exclusive content from artists, like behind-the-scenes video. Artists will also be able to communicate personal messages to their fans, and fans will be able to respond and share these messages. In other words, Apple’s trying to hijack some of the communication that already exists on social media for its own purposes. (Remember, Apple’s previous social music failure, Ping? Will this be better? Maybe?)
Apple Music is definitely a solid improvement over everything that Apple’s offered before. But it stands to be seen if there’s really enough here to set Apple Music apart from the well-established Spotify.