When Apple released its streaming music service, Apple Music, in June 2016, few people beyond musicians and streaming-music enthusiasts expected it to be as successful or dominate the market as it has. Since then, it’s grown from a relatively niche service to one that dominates much of the digital music landscape. The scope of Apple Music is almost unmatched by any other streaming service. It offers hundreds of curated playlists of songs from a variety of genres, as well as original programming such as The House Band and World Record Live. But just how good is it compared to its competitors? Let’s take a look at some of the key differences between Apple Music and competing services.
The first week of access to Apple Music is completely free. However, after that, you’ll have to pay $9.99 per month for the complete music library, or $24.99 for the yearly subscription. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why Apple Music is different from the competition — it offers a free trial, which ends at the same time that new customers are automatically registered.
Many of the competition’s streaming services have limits on the number of times a song or playlist can be played. For example, with Spotify you can have 100 free plays per week, or 5 free plays each day. But with Apple Music, you can listen to a track an unlimited number of times. Is that a problem? Of course not! A large percentage of your listeners will become repeat listeners, which means you’ve got more people hearing your music than if you limited yourself to free listening. In fact, it can be easier to draw new listeners to your service as compared to the competition.
To create a playlist in Apple Music, choose Library > Create New > Playlists. The only option available is Songs, but you can choose another category if you like. From there, you can create a playlist that has any songs by any artist, a custom playlist with only your music, or you can create a free-playing playlist that lets you hear any song in the catalog. A playlist can contain a variety of different types of items, including lyrics, music videos, and podcasts. You can also add an avatars to your playlists, so that your listeners can see your taste in music while they’re listening.
While many people assume that only professional musicians consume music digitally, the truth is that most people use it for both domestic and international travel. That’s why so many airlines now offer premium cabin options with dedicated playlists for passengers that include free music from artists like Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars.
Apple Music currently costs $9.99 per month for the standard plan, which includes ad-free streaming, 10,000 free plays, and 80 tracks. However, there is a yearly subscription option that costs $24.99 per year that gives you all of the benefits of the free plan along with 10,000 free plays, ad-free listening, and access to all original programming. The price of Apple Music has gone up by $2.24 per month over the last year, meaning it’s more expensive than it was back in June 2016. However, the amount of that increase is fairly minimal, so it’s not like the price has gone up drastically. In fact, it’s increased less than 1% over the last year. So, while $9.99 per month may seem like a lot, compared to the competition, it’s actually come down in price over the last year (as shown in the comparison chart). If you were paying the price in June 2016, the only change would have been a reduction in the number of songs included in the service.
Like most services, you can use Apple Music on computers, smartphones, tablets, and other connected devices as well as online browsers. However, you can also access the service on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets via the Apple Music app. You can also access Apple Music online via the Apple Music website.
Like most competitors, Apple Music lets you save your playlists and content so that you can start them from scratch on another device. You can also link your Apple Music account to iCloud so that your library is automatically transferred to another device if you lose or break your phone or tablet.
As noted above, most of the content available with Apple Music is original. However, the service does come with a few paid tiers that offer more popular content as well as other benefits. The $24.99 per year Apple Music Plus subscription gives you ad-free listening, two weeks of free access to the Taylor Swift Radio show, and access to the ad-free listening of the Taylor Swift Music videos.
If you’re interested in taking advantage of all that Apple Music has to offer, there’s no real downside to paying an annual subscription. A monthly subscription gets you ad-free listening, no limitations on the number of times you can play songs, and access to all of the original programming. That said, if you’re interested in experiencing all that Apple has to offer and aren’t interested in paying an annual fee, simply using Apple Music without a subscription is just as enjoyable as using the paid service.