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Tech giant Apple has launched its new music service Apple Music. In a typically glitzy presentation at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services, detailed the three components of the widely anticipated service – a streaming service, a global radio station, and a way for artists to share content directly with their fans.

Apple enters the music access market

So there we have it. After what seems like months of speculation, Apple has finally taken the wraps off its shiny new music streaming service. In customary style, the nuts and bolts of the new music offering were laid out for all the world to see in the opening keynote presentation of the company’s WWDC. As it turned out, the music service was the “one more thing” moment at the end of the keynote. If we are being picky, it should have been “three more things.”

What is included?

What Apple launched is the most all-encompassing music service available in the world. Apple Music is a streaming service that includes all the 30 million tracks currently available through the iTunes Music Store. Curation is to figure heavily in the new service with a number of music experts from around the world creating playlists based on users’ preferences. A new “for you” section of Apple Music provides a personalized mix of albums, new releases, and playlists. Also included in the new service is a new global radio station, Beats 1, which will broadcast live for 24 hours each day from Los Angeles, New York, and London. According to the Apple PR, Beats 1 will offer exclusive interviews, guest hosts, and the latest music news and information. The third component of Apple’s new music offering is Connect, an initiative that allows artists to share lyrics, backstage photos, videos, and new music directly with fans.

Rollout at the end of June

All three parts of the new service will be available in more than 100 countries from the end of June through all the usual Apple hardware (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Mac) as well as PCs. Later this year, the services will be rolled out to Apple TV and, for the first time, Android phones. Users will initially be offered a three month free trial, after which they will pay $9.99 per month. There is also a family plan providing access for up to six family members for $14.99 per month.

Do I want all this?

While the spectacle of any Apple product launch is always entertaining, the first thing that came to mind was how complex the whole music service sounded. True, for the same price as a Spotify or a Deezer subscription, I can get a whole lot more. But do I actually want a whole lot more? Certainly the launch of a global radio station with high-profile DJs is an interesting proposition (as well as a potential licensing nightmare), but do I really care where the broadcast is coming from? Music aficionados will rave that the hottest DJs in the world have come together under one roof. But don’t most listeners have the radio on in the background, or tune in to a particular station for local news and information? Although radio is often cited as the main source of new music, increasingly YouTube is taking over that role. And YouTube is free to access.

What is certain is that we won’t know how well the service is doing for sure until next year. The three-month free trial means users won’t have to subscribe until the beginning of October and so any official announcement on subscriber numbers may not come until early 2016. Of course there will be predictions and insider opinions about how many people are engaged in the free trial. But a try-before-you-buy doesn’t always lead to a subscription. iTunes Radio got off to a great start, but didn’t come close to the heights some were expecting. Apple Music is the tech giant’s attempt to put that right. Let’s see what happens after some of the free trial dust has settled.



Simon Dyson, Head of Music Practice

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