By Chris Dato • July 17, 2015
Although music has existed since the dawn of time, our ability to enjoy any song at home and on command is a relatively recent advancement. It started with our grandparents and vinyl records. Then our parents had the luxury of cassettes. Speaking for my generation (I was born in 1990 and like everyone else born that year refuse to contribute to the spread of the term ‘Millennial’), we were raised on good old compact disks. However, those days are long gone, and in its place are mp3s… music streaming… wait, we’re back to vinyl records again!? And now Apple Music has launched and claims to once again be revolutionizing the way we get our music. Let’s cut through the noise by first discussing the basics of Apple Music, then we will see how it how it compares to the most prominent current music streaming service, Spotify.
Despite its tumultuous debut as the latest victim of a scorned Taylor Swift, the music streaming service has officially launched with the latest update of the iOS. This new app icon on their home screen has left many iPhone owners with the same question: What is Apple Music?
You are already tired of hearing the most basic answer to this question: a music streaming service. Simply put, Apple Music boasts a music library of 30 million songs for you to access and listen to entirely at your own discretion. As you would expect, the library features every genre you can think of, and features both signed and unsigned artists. In addition to this huge collection, any music that you have already uploaded to your iTunes is automatically added to your Apple Music library.
In order to celebrate its launch, Apple Music is offering a 90 day free trial of the service. Following the expiration of the free trial, it will cost individual users $9.99 per month. Apple will also offer a ‘family plan,’ allowing up to 6 users for $14.99 per month.
The area in which Apple Music stands out, however, is in the social aspect of their music streaming service. Apple promises to allow fans more communication and access to their favorite music artists through interactive social media features such as following artists and liking or commenting on their music. Furthermore, artists will have the ability to publish their own music via the service. Because of this feature, Apple says it will be able to offer exclusive music from these unsigned artists to its subscribers, who will, in turn, benefit from the exposure.
The Radio feature of Apple Music is distinct from its competitors as well. The service features a global radio station that streams LIVE 24/7 from London, New York, and Los Angeles. In addition to music, the station will have live DJs discussing hot trends in music and even offering exclusive interviews with artists.
So, how is Apple Music different from Spotify and other music streaming services? In the last year, Spotify has quickly become the first name that comes to mind for music streaming. There is no question that the premier of Apple Music marked the start of a war for dominance of the streaming service industry. However, in addition to being first on the scene (debatably), Spotify has some other unique features that may ultimately give the service the advantage.
Let’s start by getting the similarities out of the way. Spotify allows you to choose any song from their extensive music library at your own discretion from either your phone or computer for a monthly charge of $9.99. They also offer a free trial subscription, although it is only 30 days. Also, additional users can be added to a plan for $5 per person, in lieu of a family plan.
Spotify does have a slightly larger music library as of the writing of this article (30 million PLUS, but who’s counting?), although this seems likely to change as time goes on. This service also has a radio feature, though it works differently from Apple’s. The radio on Spotify offers a selection of channels designated by genre, where users can hear songs generated based on their taste.
The area in which Spotify still seems to have the unanimously agreed edge on Apple Music is in its expert recommendations. Although every service now uses some algorithm in order to tailor your music to your preferences, Apple Music has given the immediate impression that it is playing it safe when it comes to recommending music, sticking to mainstream bands and songs. Spotify, on the other hand, has received a reputation for making truly insightful and impressive choices when it comes to exposing users to new music.
Although there is still a lot to be seen for what Apple has planned, it appears right now that the different strengths of the two service give them each a unique appeal to music lovers.
With Apple Music still in its early stages, it is hard to know that the future will hold for the music streaming service industry. But whatever the next step in music, one thing seems clear: Apple with be there. As always, we will keep our eyes (and ears) open!
Chris Dato A Southern California kid born and raised, Chris is happiest with sunglasses on his face and sand under his back. Although a self-proclaimed master money saver, he prefers the term 'responsibly frugal' to 'cheap.'