Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference is here, and some of the biggest news to come out of its first 24 hours is the launch of Apple Music. On Monday, Apple revealed its new music streaming service as an effort to compete with heavyweights Spotify and Pandora. But as glitzy as the announcement was (it got a small boost of celebrity power with the likes of Drake), Apple Music still has plenty of competition.
With Apple Music, you can make your own playlists from over 30 million songs in its catalog or you can let hired music experts (and even Siri!) to help find new music or create playlists based on your tastes. Apple is also debuting its first live radio station called Beats 1, led by radio DJs Zane Lowe, Ebro Darden, and Julie Adenuga. Listeners from more than 100 countries can tune in not only for music, but also exclusive interviews. The most unique feature of Apple Music is "Connect," an Instagram/Twitter-like feed that lets artists share new releases or post messages to fans.
In a statement, music producer and Apple exec Jimmy Iovine heralded the service as a revolutionary solution for the streaming industry.
Apple Music is really going to move the needle for fans and artists. Online music has become a complicated mess of apps, services and websites. Apple Music brings the best features together for an experience every music lover will appreciate.
Apple Music will be compatible with all your Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac), but it'll also be available for PC and Android users by the fall, a big sign the company is trying to court all and any users. The service officially launches on June 30, and you can try it out for free for up to three months. After that, it'll cost you $9.99 a month. Six family members can also share a plan for $14.99 a month.
A music streaming app has long been rumored, especially after Apple acquired Beats for $3 billion last May. Beats didn't just have those stylish headphones with Dr. Dre's stamp of approval. It had its own music subscription service called Beats Music, and many wondered how Apple would incorporate it into its portfolio. Apple Music feels a lot like Beats Music, albeit with some more bells and whistles.
Perhaps more interesting is how Apple Music offers a peek at the company's plans for expanding its business separate from its money-making devices, namely the iPhone. The success of the Apple Watch, the first new device to launch since Steve Jobs' death, depends on who you ask, and we'll just have to wait until the official numbers come out on how well it actually sold. Apple Music is a different case because it offers a more affordable service that appeals on a much larger global scale. If Apple Music takes hold, it could mean big bucks for the company.
But while the Apple name goes far across the world, giants Spotify and Pandora have been running the show for much longer. In January, Spotify announced it had 15 million paid subscribers for its premium model, priced at $9.99 a month, and 60 million monthly active users. By March 2014, Pandora had 3.3 million paid subscribers at $3.99 a month (later raised to $4.99 a month) and 250 million registered users. Both Spotify and Pandora offer ad-supported versions of their services that cost listeners nothing, but paid subscribers are what keep a streaming service afloat. Apple Music doesn't offer a free-to-use model (at least not yet), but it seems to be targeting people who still haven't committed their money to a streaming service. That would mean Apple isn't looking to take away Spotify and Pandora listeners. Instead, it wants to convert those still up for grabs.
So is Apple Music a game-changer? Probably not. If nothing else, it’s a nice addition to the company’s stock. And if you're wondering what exactly other streaming services are thinking, just check out Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek's tweet in response to Apple Music: "Oh ok." He has since deleted the post.
Images: Apple; Getty Images (2)