MANY have scoffed at Apple’s decision to offer a music streaming service that charges $11.99 when its closest competitor, Spotify, offers an all-important, advert-supported free option.
Apple Music may have secured a PR victory by landing Taylor Swift (her music remains absent from Spotify), but what you’re really getting for that money becomes clear even before you listen to a single song.
The app first asks what genres and artists you like.
By tapping in your preferences, you essentially create a virtual music nerd, ready to recommend you things based on its encyclopaedic knowledge and library of 30 million songs.
You’re instantly given dozens of playlists to dip into. If you tell the app you like Billie Holiday, you’ll get curated playlists featuring cuts from Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington and Nina Simone.
If you say you like Rihanna and dance music, you’re given a selection of the Barbadian pop star’s finest remixes
The more you listen, the more the service gets to know your tastes.
Also sweetening the deal is Beats 1, a radio service programmed by a variety of experts, such as ex-BBC DJ Zane Lowe and hip-hop don Ebro. Beats 1 is another justification for the monthly fee even if it’s a more haphazard way of finding new sounds.
Creating and sharing playlists of your own is an integral part of the service, while song-based radio stations are an even less labour-intensive way of keeping the music you like coming.
Apple has been derided for arriving late to the streaming game, but by watching what has worked and failed for the competition, being tardy might actually work in its favour.
There’s nothing to lose by taking advantage of the service’s three-month free trial (something Tidal doesn’t offer).
But be warned that Apple won’t tell you when time’s up, so it’s best to turn off the auto-renewal option, as there’s a good chance you may forget.
Apple is no doubt banking on exactly that.
But the truth is, even after the free sample, you probably won’t want to lose your nerdy new friend.
$11.99 per month, $17.99 for the family plan
The good: Excellent personalised curation and recommendations
The bad: Social media component Connect — which, like Facebook or Twitter, will let artists share their work directly with listeners — is currently a wasteland
$11.99 per month, or $23.99 for high-quality audio
The good: Exclusive content, such as videos and new music, and the only place to hear the entire Prince catalogue
The bad: Glitchy user experience and smaller song selection (around 25 million) compared to Spotify and Apple Music
$6.73 per month, or $74 per year
The good: Selection of playlists is broad
The bad: Overall song selection is limited to a mere one million
$11.99 per month for premium, ad-free service
The good: Still free for people who can put up with ads. Like Apple, a catalogue of around 30 million songs
The bad: No Taylor Swift!