WWDC 2015 was (per usual) filled with updates on OS X, the forthcoming iOS9, the Apple Watch — and, most notably, the introduction of a newcomer to the crowded streaming market: Apple Music.
At $9.99 per month ($14.99 for a six-person share plan), Apple Music combines the legacy Beats streaming product and iTunes Radio (now called Beats 1) and the “tens of millions” (per Apple) of tracks in the iTunes Store, and adds in a social artist-to-fan platform called Connect. Subscribers will be able to access their entire music library (whether purchased from Apple or not) with Apple Music through iCloud, get behind-the-scenes content from their favorite artists, and listen to satellite radio-esque stations curated by the likes of BBC Radio’s Zane Lowe and (newer Apple employee) Dr. Dre.
While everybody with an Apple ID will be able to view & follow artists on Connect, and listen to both Beats 1 & iTunes Radio, the latter will come with limited skips (similar to the ad-supported Spotify model), and only Apple Music subscribers will get unlimited music and offline access to content. Users will get 3 months to test out Apple Music before they decide if they want to pay for the service or not.
Apple Music won’t just be for iOS device owners. The company plans to rollout apps for Windows and Android users in the Fall; though, iOS and Mac owners will get the app on June 30th.
While Spotify has dominated streaming music with over 60 million users, Apple has a few distinct advantages that could help set it apart. The first is the massive iTunes library — even though the digital download trend has stalled, most artists still offer new music through iTunes, as it’s one of the few outlets consumers looking to “save” content use. Apple has some 800 million credit cards in its database, and the free trial offer will allow the company to give people a taste before converting them to paid users. And with exclusive content in the form of Connect and music videos, Apple Music may not only appeal to fans, but to artists themselves (something Spotify cannot claim).
Though late to the streaming music game, Apple (arguably) paved the way for competitors like Spotify and Jay Z’s Tidal with the launch of the iTunes Store back in 2003. Admittedly, I didn’t think the Beats Music service alone was worth the monthly fee (nor would I pay $9.99 for Spotify, and I use it occasionally) — but, Apple Music does have my interest piqued. I’m looking forward to starting my free trial on 6/30; whether that converts to a paid subscription, the Summer will tell.