With news of the new capabilities leaking everywhere, Apple announced today that it is bringing lossless and spatial audio to Apple Music at no additional cost.
“Apple Music is making its biggest advancement ever in sound quality,” Apple vice president Oliver Schusser says. “Listening to a song in Dolby Atmos is like magic. The music comes from all around you and sounds incredible. Now we are bringing this truly innovative and immersive experience to our listeners with music from their favorite artists like J Balvin, Gustavo Dudamel, Ariana Grande, Maroon 5, Kacey Musgraves, The Weeknd, and so many more. Subscribers will also be able to listen to their music in the highest audio quality with Lossless Audio. Apple Music as we know it is about to change forever.”
So that’s a lot to digest. Here’s how I understand it.
Lossless audio will be available across the entire Apple Music catalog of 75 million tracks and to all subscribers at no additional cost. Dolby Atmos, however, will only be made available to a limited selection of music in the catalog and only via certain Apple devices that H1 or W1 chip—including AirPods and Beats headphones—and through the built-in speakers in the latest iPhones, iPads, and Macs. Apple says that albums that support Dolby Atmos will display a badge so you can easily find them, and it will of course add new music continually over time.
Here’s what I also understand. Spotify plans to charge extra for lossless/HD audio capabilities, where Apple will not. And that should raise new antitrust concerns, complaints, and investigations from regulators around the globe. Apple, as always, is taking advantage of its ability to subsidize its subscription services with its incredible hardware sales to lower prices and disadvantage competitors.
(Amazon had been charging for lossless and HD audio, but dropped that extra fee after the Apple announcement.)
It’s hard to imagine that this addition won’t drive further Apple Music subscription growth. Indeed, as a consumer, this is a very compelling option.