When Apple acquired Beats last year, many anticipated that the Cupertino company planned to leverage the service’s existing technology and industry relationships to roll out its own streaming music service. Now, as expected, Apple has revealed the primary result of the Beats acquisition: Apple Music.
Apple Music is the company’s first foray into paid, on-demand music streaming. Unlike the existing iTunes Radio, which limits users to genre-based “stations” with limited ability to skip undesired songs, Apple Music grants users access to a large database of tracks in the same fashion as other popular streaming services like Spotify, and represents a significant departure from the à la carte purchase-based strategy that has defined Apple’s iTunes experience since the launch of the iTunes Store in 2003.
Apple hopes to distinguish Apple Music from its competitors by combining audio, music videos, lyrics, and social media features that let artists engage with audiences and for fans to follow their favorite bands. The service will also feature playlists curated by real people and 24-hour live radio via the “Beats 1” station.
The social media features, called “Connect,” will allow artists and their representatives to upload mixes, photos, comments, and more. This of course is reminiscent of much of the functionality of Apple’s failed “Ping” social network, but will be buoyed this time by the likely more popular streaming music features.
Like other streaming services, users can create and manage their own playlists with songs from the streaming library, complete with custom artwork and the ability to rearrange songs on the fly. The Beats Music influence is also clearly present, with users able to identify their favorite genres and artists in order to populate suggested playlists and artists.
Leveraging the natural language searches introduced in iOS and OS X, Siri can also interact with the new Music service in interesting ways, such as “Play the number one song from May 1982.”
Apple Music will be available June 30 via a dedicated app for iOS, via iTunes on Mac and PC, and with a new dedicated Android app, which will launch “this fall.” It will require the iOS 8.4 update, currently in beta, and cost $9.99 per month for a single user, or $14.99 per month for a family of up to six users. To encourage new users to try the service, Apple Music will be free for the first three months of its availability.