Apple has long been the holdout in the streaming music game, preferring to make its bones via downloads in lieu of cached tracks. All that changed on Monday (June 8), though, when the music giant finally released Apple Music unto the world.
At its Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple unleashed the new service, which will launch on June 30 in more than 100 countries -- on Apple devices as well as Android (at a later date). We've been waiting for its arrival ever since Apple shelled out $3 billion for Beats Music and Beats Electronics -- counting on a music service that will shake up the streaming music marketplace once and for all.
Looking at Apple and each of its competitors' offerings, though, the question becomes: How exactly will it shake things up?
Let's take a look at the facts...
How Much Will It Cost Me?
The eternal question: How much are these services going to cut into my allowance/paycheck/savings account? As it turns out, they're all pretty comparable -- give or take.
Spotify: Spotify has a free tier that has some restrictions on listening -- including the fact that it's ad-supported, you can't play on-demand on mobile, you don't get unlimited skips, etc. The premium tier costs $9.99 per month, and features unlimited listening, no ads and offline streaming, among other features. Students can get premium for 50% off, as can families.
Apple Music: Apple Music costs $9.99 per month, with a family plan option for up to six members for $14.99 per month.
How Many Songs Do I Get?
As you can see, it's kind of a draw when it comes to options. Although, Spotify doesn't feature Taylor Swift, so Swifties may be swayed. We have yet to see if Apple will have access to Tay Tay as well, though ... So stay tuned.
Spotify: More than 30 million.
Tidal: More than 30 million.
Apple Music: More than 30 million.
Sensing a trend, here?
What Else Do I Get?
Most music services have radio and offer playlists -- but what do these three have that really sets them apart? Are you more into seeing Nicki's video first or running to a perfectly synced beat?
Spotify: Spotify recently released a bevy of new features, including music for every mood and activity, a tool called Spotify Running that matches music to your jogging pace, and tons of video -- from exclusives produced just for Spotify to content from ABC, Vice, TED and more.
Tidal: Tidal is all about exclusive content -- from music video premieres from the likes of Nicki Minaj and Rihanna to new songs from Lil Wayne. The service has also featured exclusive concerts from Jay Z and Prince, who streamed his Rally 4 Peace in Baltimore.
Apple Music: Apple Music features a 24-hour radio station called Beats 1 -- helmed by Zane Lowe -- that will feature tunes, interviews and anything else a music fan could want. It also boasts Apple Music Connect, an as-yet-to-be-fully-explained feature that will connect fans and artists and furnish them with exclusive content like lyrics, backstage photos, videos and more. Siri will also play a part, of course, acting as your personal DJ via voice activation.
So What Does That All Mean?
The biggest shakeup here is the mere existence of Apple Music in the first place -- not so much the features it boasts -- because as you can see, they aren't THAT different from their competitors' offerings.
For years now, Apple has been a digital music retailer, hawking $10 albums in the face of an industry where that same price could get you infinite (streaming) music. Now, it seems, the iconic music company has joined the discount fray. And it's really no surprise -- streaming is on the rise, while digital and physical sales are decidedly not.
So are digital downloads going the way of the cassette (without the nostalgia factor), seeing as how the giant in the game hasn't beat 'em but joined 'em? And, perhaps more pertinently, can Apple compete in an already crowded marketplace? We'll have to wait and see when Apple Music hits phones later this month. In the meantime, let us know in the comments below: Will you continue to buy digital music once Apple Music is here?