Apple Music expands annual subscription option beyond gift cards

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People with an existing Apple Music subscription can now switch to a cheaper annual plan without having to buy a gift card — though the option is relatively hidden.

To find it, subscribers must go into the iOS 10 App Store, scroll to the bottom of the Featured tab, and select their Apple ID, TechCrunch noted on Monday. This will prompt for a password, after which people can tap on "View Apple ID," then finally on the Subscriptions button to check their Apple Music membership.

A one-year individual plan is $99 in the U.S., a significant discount off the nearly $120 it costs to go month-by-month. Unfortunately, there are no annual tiers for student or family accounts, and the option is invisible to people who aren't already using Apple Music.

In fact, Apple has so far downplayed the annual option in marketing. The gift card first appeared in September, but is only highlighted in the company's online store.

Offering a discounted plan may nevertheless help Apple compete with the market leader in on-demand streaming, Spotify. The latter is still selling 12-month gift cards for the same price it costs to go month-to-month.

Apple is also aiming to compete with Spotify by offering more original video content. Recently it premiered "Planet of the Apps," and hired two former Sony executives to spearhead future efforts.