Apple’s highly-anticipated and controversial streaming music service goes live today. Apple Music is now available on Apple devices in 100 countries. It will be available on Windows and Android in the fall.
iPhone and iPad users can can download Apple Music via the iOS 8.4 Software Update. MacBook users need to download the iTunes 12.1.2 update.
The monthly subscription price point is $9.99, but the first three months are free for everyone. Apple had initially planned to not compensate artists during this time — however, after stiff criticism from numerous artists and record labels, the most notable being Taylor Swift, Apple reversed its position. Apple is also offering a family plan for $14.99 a month, which provides access to six individual family members.
Apple Music is based around three main features: curated playlists that go beyond algorithms to recommend music; a 24/7 global radio station called Beats 1 hosted by Zane Lowe (previously of BBC Radio 1) and several musicians including St. Vincent, Josh Homme, Drake, and Elton John; and a social networking platform called Connect that allows fans to connect with artists.
The launch of Apple Music also marks the first time several high-profile albums are available to stream online. Among them: Dr. Dre’s The Chronic (Dre is a member of Apple’s team), Swift’s 1989, and AC/DC’s entire catalog. (Note: AC/DC is also available on Spotify, Rdio, and other streaming services.) Update: Apple Music’s launch also includes instrumental versions of Nine Inch Nail’s The Fragile and With Teeth along with Pharrell’s new single “Freedom”.
“Can we build a bigger and better ecosystem? One complete thought around music,” executive Jimmy Iovine said of Apple Music’s mission statement. Added Trent Reznor, who serves as a chief creative director for Apple, “There needs to be a place where music can be treated less like digital bits but more like the art it is, with a sense of respect and discovery.”