Declared as the “next chapter of music” and promising that it will change “the way you experience music”, Apple has unveiled its new music subscription service called Apple Music at its WWDC keynote this morning.
“We’ve had a long relationship with music, and music has had a rich history of change, some of which we’ve played a part in,” CEO Tim Cook said, hinting at Apple’s history in shaking up the music industry with the iPod and iTunes.
Apple Music features three components – live streaming, a global radio station, and a way to connect with artists. Users will be able to stream (with no ads) and save for offline the millions of tracks and music videos that are available on iTunes store. And obviously, you will have access to your existing iTunes library.
Like its rivals, you will also get additional song recommendations. Apple says that they have “hired the most talented music experts from around the world” to create a perfect playlist based on your musical tastes. They’ve also integrated Siri, allowing you to ask questions like “What was the number one song in February 2011?” and it will play that song.
The radio station is called Beats One, and promises to include the “world’s best voices” programming its schedules – like Zane Lowe, who was poached from BBC’s Radio One. Beats One will be broadcasting in over 100 countries online from Los Angeles, New York and London. You will still be able to listen to the radio station even if you are not an Apple Music subscriber.
And a blast from the past, Apple is attempting again to let users connect with artists, bringing Drake to talk about the service to audience. Artists can post images, video messages, status updates, or their latest tracks onto the service – with fans being able to like or comment on them. This feature will also be available to non-subscribers.
Apple is pitching the new connect feature to all artists, including unsigned artists. This seems like a way to get them to use Apple Music instead of Soundcloud or Bandcamp, which has been typically the home where unsigned artists have put their songs on.
Jimmy Iovine from Beats Electronics (acquired by Apple last year) noted that Apple Music was designed to solve fragmentation in the music experience, pointing out the many different services that exist that help users listen, watch music videos, and connect with artists.
“In 2015, the music industry is a fragmented mess. If you want to stream music, you can go over here! If you want to stream video, you can check this out!” Iovine told the audience. “So I reached out to Tim Cook and Eddy Cue, and said can we build a complete ecosystem to do everything you want to do?”
However, there is no doubt that this service is to take on Spotify – and by the looks of it, Apple Music could pose a huge challenge to the Swedish-based service.
For one, Apple Music appears to have not suffered the same problems as Spotify when it comes to artists putting their songs on the service. For example, songs by Taylor Swift – who pulled her songs from Spotify because of low royalty rates – made a subtle appearance in the Apple Music screenshots displayed behind the presenters.
Apple Music will cost US$9.99 per month (“the cost of an album”), with the first three months free so they can get everyone on board. There will also be a Family Plan that will cost US$14.99 per month, and you can connect up to six people with one account. However, the Family Plan requires you to have iCloud Family Sharing turned on as well.
It will launch in over 100 countries – including Australia – on June 30 through iOS and iTunes on the Mac via an update. It will launch later in the Spring on iTunes for Windows and on Android devices.