Apple’s new subscription streaming service, Apple Music, launched with the release of iOS 8.4 Tuesday morning. The service, which also includes a live radio service and an artist social networking platform, was announced at Apple’s developer conference earlier this month.
The new service is available on iOS (iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch), and will become available on the Mac and PC via an iTunes update. This fall, Apple Music will also launch on Apple TV and Android phones.
Apple Music costs $9.99 per month after a three-month free trial. There’s also a family plan, where six people can get access for $14.99 per month. The first three months of that will also be free. Apple’s Eddy Cue said there will soon also be new versions of iTunes for iOS and OS X, as well as versions for Windows and Android (later this year).
All the services you see on iTunes today still exist, and now Apple has bolted on the subscription, live radio, and social elements. The live streaming radio service is called Beats 1, and the artist social media site is called iTunes Connect.
On the iPhone, the new Music app consists of five major sections — For You, New, Radio, Connect, and My Music. We’ll take these one at a time below. On the desktop, the new Apple Music services will be integrated into the design of the existing iTunes app in future versions of OS X.
- It already has millions of iTunes user credit card numbers on file, so signing up for the service would be relatively friction-free.
- Apple may end up having more music to offer than its streaming music rivals. Apple is expected to offer content from all the major label groups, although reports say those deals haven’t yet been signed.
Apple will likely try to buy content exclusives from megastars like Pharrell, in the same way it has already done with the latest U2 record.
Some observers believe that an arms race is brewing in which Spotify, Google, Apple, and others will try to outbid each other for exclusive record releases. If, for example, the next Pharrell record is available only from Apple Music, some consumers may be compelled to sign up and will use Spotify or Google less.