Apple Music, the new streaming music service Apple is introducing June 30, will allow users to integrate their existing iTunes collections, learn about new artists and music from expert curators, and select their favorite and least-favorite types of music so Apple music can share suggestions based on user preferences.
But that’s only a few of the many features that stand ready to be tested and explored by new subscribers once they create accounts and take advantage of free 90-day trial memberships Apple is offering.
In this guide, eWEEK reveals additional features that users shouldn’t miss as they take a look under the hood of Apple music and what it promises as it begins to take on competitors, including Pandora, Spotify and others.
What It Costs
Apple Music will cost $9.99 per month after a free 90-day trial, or six family members can share a membership for $14.99 per month. The service will initially be available to Mac, iPhone, iPad and iPod users once they upgrade to the latest iOS 8.4 operating system (which includes Apple Music integration), as well as to Windows users of iTunes.
By the fall, Apple Music will also be available to Apple TV and Android users. The iOS 8.4 updates will be available for free downloads starting at 11 a.m. EDT June 30. To sign up for the free trials, users must update their iOS devices to the latest OS and launch Music, while Mac and Windows users must update to the latest versions of iTunes.
Apple Watch users must get updates from a paired iPhone to use Apple Music. Users of Apple’s existing Beats music service can move their Beats subscription over to Apple Music and save their existing playlists. Here’s what you need to know about Apple Music.
What’s It Does and What’s Included
Apple Music will put the entire Apple Music catalog of some 30 million songs at the fingertips of subscribers. A user’s existing music tracks, whether purchased from the iTunes Store or ripped from CDs, will live in one place on their devices alongside the Apple Music catalog.
With an Apple Music membership, a user’s entire library lives in Apple’s iCloud. The service automatically compares every track in a user’s music collection to Apple’s music library and can play it from the iCloud if Apple has a copy. If the music is not in Apple’s catalog, it is uploaded from iTunes on a user’s Mac or PC so it won’t take up space on a user’s devices.
To help find desired music, the service incorporates an intelligent search engine to help users find the music they are seeking. It remembers whether a user is looking in their local music library or in the Apple Music library, so they get results from the place they expect. Users can also browse music they’ve previously looked for, and they can see what searches are trending.
Apple Music members can easily add tracks, albums or videos from the Apple Music library once they find it in search. Members can then also create personalized playlists from music they’ve added to their collections. Music can also be saved for offline listening on the road. Users can post your favorites to Facebook, Twitter, or Messages.
Apple Music Learns Your Music Likes and Dislikes
Apple Music wants to learn what users like and don’t like to hear. To do that, the service “learns” those preferences and provides additional suggestions based on that information. Users can inform Apple Music about music genres and bands they prefer, as well as the ones they don’t like, by tapping or clicking on screen icons in the software that displays the names of bands and genres. By making these selections, users can help build their future recommendations from Apple Music.
A Look Under the Hood as Apple Music Launches
Music Experts Share Their Recommendations, Too
A key new feature of Apple Music is that experts around the world will curate the music and help create personalized playlists for users based on their growing preferences inside Apple Music. A special “For You” section in Apple Music brings those selections together. The expert curators include Rolling Stone magazine, XXL magazine, Pitchfork, The Grand Ole Opry and others, which offer up similar kinds of music and bands that users may have never heard before.
Beats 1 Live Radio Also Included
The new Apple streaming music service also includes a live online radio component. Called Beats 1, the radio streaming service will include on-air personalities spinning songs and exploring new music with listeners. The 24/7 Beats 1 streaming radio show will be led by influential DJs Zane Lowe in Los Angeles, Ebro Darden in New York and Julie Adenuga in London, with the programming broadcast around the globe at the same time.
Band Info, Tour Notes, Photos and More
Subscribers will also be able to take in the new Connect feature in Apple Music, which lets artists and fans communicate with one another directly for a more intimate look at the music and bands that fans love. Through Connect, artists can share on-the-road experiences, lyrics, backstage photos and videos, or release their latest songs directly to fans from an iPhone, while fans can comment or interact with artists through social media platforms.
Apple Music was unveiled at Apple’s Worldwide Developer conference in early June and has already had some controversy even before its launch. The company wasn’t planning on paying musicians for their work during the 90-day free trials for subscribers, but that move was reversed later in the month when pop music icon Taylor Swift criticized the earlier decision as unfair to musicians.
Swift wrote an eloquent post, “To Apple, Love Taylor,” on Tumblr June 21 that called Apple’s original decision to withhold payments to music writers, producers and artists for three months “shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company,” eWEEK reported at the time.
An Apple executive quickly responded publicly on Twitter, reversing the company’s stand and pledging to pay royalties to musicians and recording companies even during the free customer trials.