Apple Music is a music-streaming service, developed by Apple Inc. Users select music to stream to their device on-demand, or they can listen to existing, curated playlists. The service also includes the Internet radio station Beats 1, led by DJ Zane Lowe, that broadcasts live to over 100 countries 24 hours a day, and the blog platform Connect, that allows artists to share their posts, photos, videos, and tracks with subscribers. Apple Music provides music recommendations based on a user's taste, and the iOS application is integrated with Siri voice commands. The service was announced on June 8, 2015, and launched on June 30, in over 100 countries worldwide. New subscribers get a 3-month free trial, before the service becomes paid-only.
Apple Music faces direct competition from other, similar music streaming services, including Spotify, Tidal, Google Play Music and YouTube Red. Apple Music has managed to distance itself from other services with exclusive content, integration with Siri voice commands, and high-profile advertising. Apple Music is designed to create vendor lock-in though network effects, and DRM encumbered downloads, occasionally deleting original music from a user's hard drive and replacing it with DRM encumbered versions.
In June 2016, Apple Music exceeded 15 million subscribers.
Apple Inc. sent out a press release on June 8, 2015, that their music streaming service, Apple Music, would launch worldwide on June 30. The press release included details on the service's features; Apple Music, which lets users to select music to stream to their device on-demand or use an already-existing playlist curated by "music experts"; Beats 1, the service's 24-hour radio station led by DJ Zane Lowe that will broadcast in over 100 countries; and Connect, which allows artists to share "lyrics, backstage photos, videos or even release their latest song directly to fans directly from their iPhone". The press release also contained information on pricing and availability; starting June 30, "music fans around the world are invited to a 3-month free membership", after which the service will have a monthly subscription cost, which, in the United States, is set to $9.99 for individual plans and $14.99 for family plans, of up to 6 people.
The Apple Music app has several tabs. The "For You" section recommends music for the user. Human expert selections supplement the algorithmic curation. Every user has a "My Music" section that shows both purchased songs and tracks available for streaming. "Radio" incorporates some aspects of iTunes Radio, such as ad-supported stations that play genre-specific or artist-related music, depending on the user's preferences.
Before Apple Music, the company's iPod and iTunes were known for having "revolutionized digital music". Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs was known to be opposed to the idea of music subscription services. When Apple bought audio equipment maker Beats Electronics in 2014, Apple gained ownership of Beats' own service Beats Music, and made Beats Music CEO Ian Rogers responsible for the iTunes Radio service. Business Insider later reported that Apple was planning to merge the two services together. Apple also hired noted British radio DJ Zane Lowe to serve as a music curator.
After a period of rumors and anticipation, Sony Music CEO Doug Morris confirmed on June 7, 2015 that Apple had plans to announce a music streaming service, saying "It's happening tomorrow", with launch later in the month. Morris emphasized several times that he prefers paid streaming as opposed to ad-supported, from a financial perspective. Furthermore, Morris said he expects the service to be the "tipping point" to accelerate the growth of streaming, along with arguing that Apple has "$178 billion dollars in the bank. And they have 800 million credit cards in iTunes." as opposed to Spotify, which "never really advertised because it’s never been profitable". Morris further argued that "Apple will promote this like crazy and I think that will have a halo effect on the streaming business. A rising tide will lift all boats. It's the beginning of an amazing moment for our industry".
Royalty payment policy
Shortly before Apple Music was released, singer-songwriter Taylor Swift wrote an open letter publicly criticizing Apple's decision to not reimburse artists during a user's 3-month free trial period and announced that she would be holding back her album 1989 from the service. She said the policy was "unfair" as "Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months". UK independent record label Beggars Group also criticized the 3-month trial period, saying it struggled "to see why rights owners and artists should bear this aspect of Apple's customer acquisition costs".
The day after Swift's letter, Apple's Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue announced on Twitter that Apple had changed its policy, and that Apple Music "will pay artist for streaming, even during customer's free trial period". On Twitter, Swift wrote "After the events of this week, I've decided to put 1989 on Apple Music... And happily so". She concluded saying it was "the first time it's felt right in my gut to stream my album".
Record label cartel
In negotiations with record labels for the new service, Apple allegedly attempted to encourage record labels to pull their content from the free, ad-supported tiers of competing services such as Spotify in order to drive adoption of Apple Music, and offered an incentive to Universal Music Group to pull its content from YouTube. The U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission launched an investigation into this alleged cartel in May 2015.
Announcement and launch
The announcement happened as the signature "one more thing..." reveal at Apple's conference. Hip hop artist Drake appeared onstage at the announcement event to elaborate on how he used the Connect platform, and Apple subsequently emphasized how "unsigned artists can share their music on Connect, too", in contrast to the iTunes Store, where small, independent artists were finding it difficult to participate.
Apple Music launched on June 30, 2015, in 100 countries. New users receive a 3-month trial subscription, which changes to a monthly fee after 3 months. A family plan allows six users to share a subscription at a reduced rate. Apple originally sought to enter the market at a lower price point for the service, but the music industry rejected the plan. The service debuted as an updated Music app on the iOS 8.4 update. Apple TV and Android device support was planned for a "fall" 2015 launch. A previously unreleased song by Pharrell Williams, entitled "Freedom", was used in promotional material and has been announced as an exclusive release on the launch of the service. The "History of Sound" advert for the launch of the Apple Music service was soundtracked by the tune There Is No Light by Wildbirds & Peacedrums, from their 2009 album The Snake. Upon its launch, Beats Music subscriptions and playlists were migrated to Apple Music, and the service was discontinued.
In January 2016, Apple Music reached a major milestone of 10 million paying subscribers, six months after launching, which increased to 11 million subscribers in February, and 13 million in April.
In February 2016, Apple Music was available in a total of 113 countries, reaching many areas of the world where competing music streaming services not yet covered.
In June 2016, Apple announced at their Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) that Apple Music had passed 15 million paid subscribers.
Apple Music received mixed reviews at launch. Among the criticism, reviewers noted the "unintuitive" interface, the amount of bugs and battery life problems, and its offline services being contingent on using the iCloud Music Library feature. This feature takes away the ability for the user to sync music locally and has caused chaos for some users' music libraries. However, the service was praised for its smart functions. The Verge wrote that the service was similar to its contemporaries in regards to library size and cost. Mashable noted the emphasis on human curation in Apple Music, pointing out the various human curated radio stations and the accuracy of the curated playlists recommended to users in the For Me section. The author concluded saying "[T]he For Me section alone has made me excited about music for the first time in a long time." Ars Technica wrote that Apple's emphasis on unsigned artist participation in Connect could be an effort to restore the company's former reputation as a "tastemaker" in the mid-2000s.
Apple Music is compatible with iOS devices running version 8.4 or later, iTunes version 12.2 or later (OS X Mavericks or later; Windows 7 or later), and the Apple Watch. It received a release for Android devices and Apple TV on November 10, 2015. Access to Apple Music's live streams requires an Apple ID logged in from an IP address originating from a supported country.