Apple reinvents Music… again

With Apple Music, Apple opens the door to 35 million-plus tracks you can stream on-demand. Most songs can also be added to your library if you like. The optional iCloud Music Library feature makes all your playlists and music (tracks you own and your selections from Apple Music) available on all your devices. Any change in iTunes is reflected on all your Apple gear in seconds – no syncing required. iCloud Music Library saves space – as long as you have internet, you can play all your music even if it isn’t actually stored on the device. So go ahead… jam to 35 million songs without filling your iPhone. 

Most Apple Music tracks can be downloaded to your Mac or iOS device for offline playing – anywhere, anytime, with or without internet or data plan – for as long as your Apple Music account is active.

Are these tracks DRM protected? Yes, songs from Apple Music are DRM-protected so they only play on your devices and while you’re account is active. Sorry… there’s no free lunch or free music! But don’t worry… you can make a smart playlist in iTunes to find Apple Music tracks so they’re easy to identify or remove, if necessary. Some people might wonder how this compares to iTunes Match, which is still available. iTunes Match is DRM-free, but works only with tracks you actually own. (Read more about Apple Music DRM.)

So will people accept this new business model? They already have. Music sales whether at actual stores, Amazon or iTunes – have been plummeting for years. Consumers are used to watching as many Netflix movies as they like every month without buying them. And when you think about it, almost all television has been consumed as cable or satellite subscriptions (or over-the-air) for our whole lives. We only buy the shows we really love. Why should music be any different?

Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, Beats, Google, Tidal and others have been offering music subscriptions for years. The idea of purchasing music is a foreign concept to today’s teens and 20-somethings… the demographic that traditionally bought the most music. The music market changed, and Apple wants to remain a big part of it.

Apple is actually late to the party. But as usual, what Apple offers is better than the competition. Pandora just offers computer-programmed playlists similar to your requested song, and there’s no way to rewind or create playlists. Spotify’s free (ad-supported) plan can’t download songs for offline use, and the interface is terrible. With Apple Music, you get it all – your own music library, streaming, offline playing & downloads, curated playlists, exclusive content and artist connections, even a real radio station (Beats1) hosted by the world’s top DJs.

This is going to reshape music and have a bigger impact than the iTunes Store did. Think about it: Access to almost all the western world’s music – over 35 million songs – to play whenever you like. Integrated with Siri and built into hundreds of millions of Apple devices. Apple has over 800 million active iTunes accounts. If even 10% of Apple customers subscribe, it will dwarf Spotify’s paid and free memberships. It may have a lasting impact on cellular carriers and data plans.

Learn how to use Apple Music in iTunes and on your iPhone or iPad.

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