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Almost a decade after Spotify began, Apple Music finally launched in 2015. Following years and actually extreme success with the iTunes Music Store where you purchased music to own, Apple seemed to acknowledge that streaming was the future. Instead of one-off purchases, such services meant that you paid an all-you-can-eat kind of fee and could listen to anything.
The same idea drives both Apple Music and Spotify. As of October 2019, Spotify claimed to have 248 million users compared to Apple Music's 60 million. The giant majority of Spotify's users are on the ad-supported free version, though, with 113 million paying.
That's still nearly twice that of Apple Music, but Apple reached its 60 million in four years, whereas Spotify Premium launched in 2008.
Between them, Apple Music and Spotify represent the unspoken demise of buying music. With an individual's monthly subscription of $9.99 about the same cost as one album, you get immediate access to a library that's currently sitting at over 60 million songs.
You can also choose to pay half as much again, and for $14.99, you and five more members of your family get the full service. It's not only that each family member gets access to all this music, it's that they separately each get the full service with its recommendations.
So anyone in your family can say to their Apple device, "Hey, Siri, play something I'll like," and it will oblige. Your playlists are preserved from the old iTunes system, and because Apple Music contains features from iTunes Match, your old purchased music is preserved too
You were never going to lose the music you'd bought before, but now the music in your old library –– whether you bought it from Apple or ripped it from CD –– is made available to you in Apple Music.


Alongside your own music, Apple Music provides myriad different playlists. Some of them, such as the excellent Essentials lists, are curated by people at Apple. Search or ask Siri to play a band or artist's name followed by the word "Essentials" and you'll usually get a first-class greatest hits collection.
It's updated, too, and so are all the human playlists such as collections of singer/songwriters.
There are also four Apple Music playlists that are particularly good, but which are generated and updated automatically. Every week, on different days, Apple Music updates personalized playlists it calls your New Music Mix, Favorites Mix, and Chill Mix.
L-R: Favorites, New and Chill music mixes automatically generated by Apple Music L-R: Favorites, New and Chill music mixes automatically generated by Apple Music
As of late 2019, there are also auto-generated playlists to do with individual years. So you can quickly go to see what music you listened to most this year, last year, or as far back as when you first subscribed.
It is this ability to simultaneously have an overwhelming range of music and be able to find anything in it, that is one of Apple Music's core strengths. The New Music, Favorites and Chill Mixes, in particular, are typically so good that you will be unhappy when they're overwritten next week.


A weaker part of Apple Music has been its iOS apps and how it has worked previously with iTunes on the Mac. While it's been steadily improved, Apple Music is sometimes hard to navigate. 
The iCloud Music Library, the element of iTunes Match that has been brought to Apple Music, also caused some grief. The service works by uploading your ripped music when there is no other choice. Apple prefers to link, instead, to existing tracks in its library. 
When your CD rip is extremely low quality and the copy on Apple Music is better, that's a bargain. 
However, the linking and matching was often wrong. If you had a playlist of your favorite studio recordings by a band then, even if every track is available on Apple Music, you would often find some had been replaced. Instead of the studio version, you could get a very different live one.

Money, artists and streaming wars

Apple Music offers an extensive free trial –– originally three months, now just one. Initially, artists and musicians were not going to be paid for the use of their music during that time. 
Following protests from the likes of Taylor Swift, who pointed out that the free streaming would impact album sales, Apple recanted.
On the more positive side, Apple Music has from the start been a better payer for artists than its rival services. 
Overall, Apple Music and the paid Premium tier of Spotify, have contributed to the music industry's financial fortunes improving.
However, there have also been what are now called streaming wars, when one service will arrange an exclusive deal with an artist that excludes others.
Apple promo for Apple Music Apple promo for Apple Music
For example, in 2016, Frank Ocean released the album "Blonde" to Apple Music and iTunes for a two-week exclusive. It was reportedly Ocean who decided to do this, the album's record label was not involved, and the album's record label was not amused, either.
Universal called for an end to exclusives. Speaking later for Apple, Jimmy Iovine distanced Apple Music from the whole arrangement. 
"We had a deal —we were working with Frank Ocean, and he controlled where his music came out," Iovine said. "Why would it be in our interest to be part of a fast one, a slow one or any one? We were getting the record no matter what.
Whatever happened with him and Universal is really between him and Universal. It has nothing to do with us. Nothing."
Speaking of putting distance between Apple Music and artists, the service also shut down its originally much-touted Connect feature in December 2018. This was a music social media service intended to connect artists and audiences, much as Apple's previous Ping service had.
It wasn't exactly the same as Ping, but it met the same fate.

More than music

Apple has all along wanted Apple Music to be more than a library. Aside from the abortive social media aspect, the company also initially used it for bringing video to audiences.
Many music videos and some documentaries made it onto the service. It's not been the most visibly successful part of Apple Music, though, and now there is Apple TV+. That may become the more obvious destination for video in the future.
Also breaking away from being a music streaming service for individuals, Apple most recently announced Apple Music for Business. In exchange for a higher subscription fee and better payments to artists, businesses get to play Apple Music in stores. And the music played is a playlist especially curated for that business.
It's similar to the way firms wanting to play music or radio in their stores have to pay a license fee.


Before Apple Music, iTunes did have a section devoted to Internet Radio and you could get a lot of stations there. Recently, Apple brought back radio stations and is now offers you stations local to your area.
For a long time, though, Apple had just two forms of what it calls radio, starting with your own personal station.
This is just a ceaseless series of music you either like or are probably going to like based on your previous purchases or current streaming choices. It's the Favorites Mix, done non-stop.
There is also a true broadcast station, though, in Beats 1
This began airing on June 30, 2015, and hasn't stopped since. It's a mixture of pop, indie and rap music, and mixes regular presenters alongside star names fronting shows, such as Sir Elton John.

Model of success

Its Connect feature may have flopped, but otherwise it's hard to see Apple Music as anything other than a success. 
While it's too soon to compare Apple TV+ to it, Apple Music has seen a much more widespread and effective adoption than, say, Apple News+.
In the future, Apple Music appears to be aiming to boost live music more.
For now, though, Apple changed the music industry with iTunes, now its Apple Music and other streaming services have changed it all over again.


The regular price for an Apple Music subscription is $9.99 per month for one person. There's a family subscription which, for $14.99 per month, is for up to six people in the same household.
Apple also offers a student rate of $4.99 per month, and there is a one-month free trial for any user.
Certain carriers include a free Apple Music subscription in their cell contracts, such as Verizon.

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