In a rambling introduction during the Worldwide Developer Conference keynote, Apple Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue announced the company’s long-anticipated Apple Music streaming service, born from what is currently known as Beats Music (see “FunBITS: What Sets Beats Music Apart,” 16 May 2014), which Apple acquired last year (see “Apple Buys Beats for $3 Billion,” 28 May 2014).
The service will launch on 30 June 2015 and will cost $9.99 per month for individual plans and $14.99 per month for family plans that support up to six family members (all six members must belong to the same Family Sharing circle). To introduce the service, Apple is offering new users a three-month free trial. Apple Music will be built into the Music app of the upcoming iOS 8.4, watchOS, and a new version of iTunes on the Mac and PC. Support for Apple TV and Android smartphones will arrive later this year.
Apple Music has three components:
Music: Apple Music will combine the music you already own with tens of millions of streaming tracks, though Apple is being cagey on the exact number. Like Beats Music, Apple Music will make recommendations based on your tastes and provide a number of human-curated playlists. You will also be able to save tracks for offline listening.
If you’re a Beats Music subscriber, you can transfer your subscription on 30 June 2015 by launching Beats Music and following the prompt to join Apple Music.
iTunes Match is “independent but complementary,” so that service will still be available for those who want it. However, it appears that Apple Music will duplicate much of iTunes Match’s functionality by putting your music collection in the cloud.
Radio: Alongside Apple Music, Apple is launching the Beats 1 live radio station, broadcasting 24/7 to over 100 countries from studios in Los Angeles, New York, and London, with renowned disc jockeys Zane Lowe, Ebro Darden, and Julie Adenuga.
Connect: Ping is back from the dead (see “iTunes 10.0.1 Integrates Ping,” 27 September 2010)! Artists on Apple Music will have their own Connect pages, where they can share content with followers. Apple says that it won’t just be big names — every artist will be able to connect with fans via Apple Music.
Even if you don’t pay for a membership, you will be able to follow artists on Connect, listen to Beats 1, and listen to Apple Music stations with limited song skipping.
Despite the lengthy demo during WWDC (which prompted Merlin Mann to quip on Twitter, “This is like being on a very long plane ride with a retiree who just bought his first iPod.”), it was hard to figure out just how people will really interact with Apple Music. We’re looking forward to getting our hands on it at the end of the month and comparing it to services like Spotify and Rdio.