As expected, Apple today announced a new music subscription service, Apple Music, which will replace Beats Music and be available on popular desktop and mobile platforms. Apple Music obviously targets Spotify, but this service presents some issues for fans of both Xbox Music and Windows Phone.
Here’s what’s happening with Apple Music.
It starts June 30. Apple announced Apple Music today, but the service doesn’t go live until June 30 for some reason.
It’s a subscription service. Apple Music costs $9.99 per month for an individual or $14.99 per month for families, with up to 6 family members allowed, a particularly generous offer. The first three months are free.
It’s an app. Apple Music will work on Apple devices—iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV and Mac—as well as Windows PCs (through iTunes) and—shocker—Android phones. There will not be a Windows Phone or web client, Apple says, though both were available for Beats Music. (Apple TV and Android phone availability of Apple Music is delayed to “this fall,” Apple says.)
It’s worldwide. Apple Music will launch in over 100 countries worldwide.
At heart, it works a lot like Xbox Music with Xbox Music Pass. What I mean by that is that you can mix your own music—which you may have ripped from CDs or purchased from whatever services—and subscription-based music from iTunes Store in a cloud-based collection that is accessible from all of your (compatible) devices.
It features curated playlists. Like Spotify, Apple Music will offer playlists that were curated by actual human beings. But it will also use Siri to help users find music with commands like “play me the best songs from 1984,” or whatever.
It has a live radio feature too. A new live radio station called Beats 1 will offer live broadcasts in all 100 of Apple Music’s launch markets. This is a 24-hour “listening experience” featuring live DJs, exclusive interviews, guest hosts and more, Apple says.
iTunes Radio is becoming Apple Music Radio. In addition to the live radio station, Apple Music will also have a wide range of streaming radio stations called Apple Music Radio.
You can connect with your favorite artists. An Apple Music Connect feature will provide two-way communication between artists and their fans. Artists can “share lyrics, backstage photos, videos or even release their latest song directly to fans directly from their iPhone,” Apple writes, while music fans “can comment on or like anything an artist has posted, and share it via Messages, Facebook, Twitter and email. And when you comment, the artist can respond directly to you.”
Basically, this looks like a direct Spotify competitor, though Apple benefits from the foundational work in iTunes, and the ability to bring users over from their existing collections. For Xbox Music, Apple Music is another nail in the coffin. Xbox Music has some of this functionality, and it picks up nice OneDrive-based cloud access to users’ own music collections in the 2015 app releases. But Microsoft clearly doesn’t care about music as much as any of its competitors, especially Apple and Spotify. And Xbox Music simply doesn’t factor into any competitive comparisons in the mainstream press. It’s like it doesn’t even exist.