Apple Music is a music and video streaming service developed by Apple Inc. Users select music to stream to their device on-demand, or they can listen to existing, curated playlists. The service also includes the Internet radio station Beats 1, that broadcasts live to over 100 countries 24 hours a day. The service was announced on June 8, 2015, and launched on June 30, in over 100 countries worldwide. New subscribers get a three-month free trial period before the service becomes paid-only.
|Opened||June 30, 2015|
|Pricing model||$9.99 / single license
$14.99 / family license
$4.99 / student license
|Availability||Widely in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Oceania, and in parts of Africa and the Middle East|
Originally a music service, Apple Music has expanded into video in 2016 and 2017. Executive Jimmy Iovine has stated that the intention for the service is to become a "cultural platform", and Apple reportedly wants the service to be a "one-stop shop for pop culture". Apple bought the rights to Carpool Karaoke in July 2016; its adaptation of the series premiered in August 2017. Apple has also been in production of its first original television-style series, namely a Planet of the Apps reality show that premiered in June 2017.
The original iOS version of Apple Music received mixed reviews, with criticism directed towards a user interface deemed "not intuitive" and a "mess". It received praise for playlist curation. In iOS 10, the app received a significant redesign, which received mostly positive reviews for an updated interface with less clutter, improved navigation, and bigger emphasis on users' libraries. Apple Music's use of iCloud for a technology that attempts to match uploaded songs to those found on the service caused significant issues for some users, with duplicate songs, missing tracks, and synchronization problems, to which Apple offered no comment or acknowledgement. It also received criticism for reportedly deleting users' local music, though publications have disagreed on the cause. In its first year, there were reports of user-uploaded content being replaced by versions locked with digital rights management, an issue later fixed. Additionally, Apple Music's use of album exclusives caused backlash and criticism from record labels, prompting the company to scale back its exclusivity efforts.
Apple Music rapidly gained popularity after its launch, passing the milestone of 10 million subscribers after six months. Its customer base has steadily increased since, with 27 million subscribers as of June 2017[update].
Apple Music lets users select music to stream to their device on-demand. They can also use an already-existing playlist curated by "music experts".
In iOS 10, the Apple Music app has several tabs. "Library" shows the user's music collection, with options to view songs by "Playlists", "Artists", "Albums", "Songs", or "Downloaded Music". The tab also shows music recently added to the library. The "For You" section recommends music for the user. Human expert selections supplement the algorithmic curation. "Browse" shows new album releases from popular artists, as well as different categories, including "New Music", "Curated Playlists", "Videos", "Top Charts", and "Genres". The "Radio" tab incorporates some aspects of iTunes Radio, such as ad-supported stations that play genre-specific or artist-related music, depending on the user's preferences. The "Search" tab features a search box, as well as a list of recent user searches and overall trending searches happening on the service.
With the upcoming release of iOS 11, Apple Music users will be able to create profiles and share music with their friends. A dedicated "friends are listening to" section will aim to create a social environment, and a new shared "up next" list will allow other users to control upcoming music to be played.
The service is compatible with iOS devices running version 8.4 or later, iTunes version 12.2 or later on macOS or Windows PCs, on Apple Watch, and Apple TV. It is also available for Android devices.
Before Apple Music, the company's iPod and iTunes were known for having "revolutionized digital music". Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs was known to be opposed to the idea of music subscription services. When Apple bought audio equipment maker Beats Electronics in 2014, Apple gained ownership of Beats' own service Beats Music, and made Beats Music CEO Ian Rogers responsible for the iTunes Radio service. Business Insider later reported that Apple was planning to merge the two services together. Apple also hired noted British radio DJ Zane Lowe to serve as a music curator.
After a period of rumors and anticipation, Sony Music CEO Doug Morris confirmed on June 7, 2015, that Apple had plans to announce a music streaming service, saying "It's happening tomorrow", with launch later in the month. Morris emphasized several times that he prefers paid streaming as opposed to ad-supported, from a financial perspective. Furthermore, Morris said he expects the service to be the "tipping point" to accelerate the growth of streaming, along with arguing that Apple has "$178 billion dollars in the bank. And they have 800 million credit cards in iTunes." as opposed to Spotify, which "never really advertised because it’s never been profitable". Morris further argued that "Apple will promote this like crazy and I think that will have a halo effect on the streaming business. A rising tide will lift all boats. It's the beginning of an amazing moment for our industry".
Royalty payment policyEdit
Shortly before Apple Music was released, singer-songwriter Taylor Swift wrote an open letter publicly criticizing Apple's decision to not reimburse artists during a user's three-month free trial period and announced that she would be holding back her album 1989 from the service. She said the policy was "unfair" as "Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months". UK independent record label Beggars Group also criticized the three-month trial period, saying it struggled "to see why rights owners and artists should bear this aspect of Apple's customer acquisition costs".
The day after Swift's letter, Apple's Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue announced on Twitter that Apple had changed its policy, and that Apple Music "will pay artist for streaming, even during customer's free trial period". On Twitter, Swift wrote "After the events of this week, I've decided to put 1989 on Apple Music... And happily so". She concluded saying it was "the first time it's felt right in my gut to stream my album".
Record label cartelEdit
In negotiations with record labels for the new service, Apple allegedly attempted to encourage record labels to pull their content from the free, ad-supported tiers of competing services such as Spotify in order to drive adoption of Apple Music, and offered an incentive to Universal Music Group to pull its content from YouTube. The U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission launched an investigation into this alleged cartel in May 2015.
Announcement and launchEdit
The announcement happened as the signature "one more thing..." reveal at Apple's conference. Hip hop artist Drake appeared onstage at the announcement event to elaborate on how he used the Connect platform, and Apple subsequently emphasized how "unsigned artists can share their music on Connect, too", in contrast to the iTunes Store, where small, independent artists were finding it difficult to participate.
Apple Music launched on June 30, 2015, in 100 countries. New users receive a three-month free trial subscription, which changes to a monthly fee after three months. A family plan allows six users to share a subscription at a reduced rate. Apple originally sought to enter the market at a lower price point for the service, but the music industry rejected the plan. The service debuted as an updated Music app on the iOS 8.4 update. Apple TV and Android device support was planned for a "fall" 2015 launch. A previously unreleased song by Pharrell Williams, entitled "Freedom", was used in promotional material and announced as an exclusive release on the launch of the service. The "History of Sound" advert for the launch of the Apple Music service was soundtracked by the tune There Is No Light by Wildbirds & Peacedrums, from their 2009 album The Snake. Upon its launch, Beats Music subscriptions and playlists were migrated to Apple Music, and the service was discontinued.
In May 2016, a student membership was announced, that discounted the regular price of a subscription by 50%. The student plan was initially only available for eligible students in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, but was expanded to an additional 25 countries in November 2016.
In February 2016, Music Business Worldwide reported that, with Apple Music having launched in Turkey and Taiwan in the previous week, the service was available in 113 countries. The publication further wrote that those countries accounted for 59 regions that competing service Spotify did not. In August 2016, Apple Music was launched in Israel and South Korea.
In January 2016, Fortune reported that, six months after launching, Apple Music had reached 10 million paying subscribers, having spent six months reaching the same customer base that took competing music streaming service Spotify six years. This customer base increased to 11 million subscribers in February, 13 million in April, 15 million in June, 17 million in September, 20 million in December, and ultimately 27 million in June 2017.
Evolution into videoEdit
In October 2015, Drake and Apple signed a deal to release the music video for Drake's Hotline Bling song exclusively on Apple Music. In December, Apple released an exclusive Taylor Swift tour documentary, called the 1989 World Tour, on Apple Music. In February 2016, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Dr. Dre would be starring in and executive producing a "dark semi-autobiographical drama" called Vital Signs. The production was described as "Apple's first scripted television series". Recode subsequently reported a few days later that the announcement of Dr. Dre's production was an effort to "extend Apple Music" in promotional ways rather than Apple actively exploring original television content. Citing Apple's deals with Drake and Swift in October and December 2015, respectively, the report referenced a Twitter user describing Apple's efforts as "content marketing".
In July 2016, Apple bought Carpool Karaoke from The Late Late Show with James Corden, with Variety writing that Apple was planning to distribute the series through Apple Music. Apple's adaptation of the series was originally supposed to premiere in April 2017, but was delayed without explanation. The series will instead premiere on August 8, 2017.
In January 2017, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was exploring original video content, including its own television series and movies. A few days later, Apple Music executive Jimmy Iovine confirmed the reports about the move towards video, and in February, he announced that Apple Music would launch its first two television-style series in 2017, with the aim to turn Apple Music into a "cultural platform". In March, The Information reported that Apple had recently hired several people to help evolve its video platform, including YouTube product manager Shiva Rajaraman. In April, it was announced that Apple Music would be the exclusive home to Sean Combs's documentary "Can't Stop, Won't Stop: A Bad Boy Story", which premiered June 25. On the same day, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that artist Will.i.am would make a reality show for Apple Music, in an effort to turn the service into a "one-stop shop for pop culture". The reality show was later revealed to be called "Planet of the Apps", and will focus on the "app economy". The series has cast 100 developers, and premiered on June 6, 2017.
In June 2017, Apple hired two television executives from Sony, specifically Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg. The two have jointly held the title of "President" at Sony, and have helped develop shows including Breaking Bad and Shark Tank. The hiring was noted by the media as another significant effort by Apple to expand into original video productions.
In November 2015, Apple launched the Android version of Apple Music, touted by reporters as Apple's first "real" or "user-centric" Android app. The app was updated in April 2017 to match the service's iOS 10 design.
In August 2016, Bloomberg announced that its Bloomberg Radio service would be available on Apple Music in over 100 countries around the world. The radio channel features global business and financial news coverage from Bloomberg journalists 24 hours a day.
Apple Music received mixed reviews at launch. Among the criticism, reviewers wrote that the user interface was "not intuitive", and an "embarrassing and confusing mess". They also wrote about battery life problems. However, the service was praised for its smart functions. Christina Warren of Mashable noted the emphasis on human curation in Apple Music, pointing out the various human-curated radio stations and the accuracy of the curated playlists recommended to users in the "For Me" section. The author concluded saying "[The] For Me section alone has made me excited about music for the first time in a long time." Sam Machkovech of Ars Technica wrote that Apple's emphasis on unsigned artist participation in the Connect feature could be an effort to restore the company's former reputation as a "tastemaker" in the mid-2000s.
Apple Music's major redesign in iOS 10 received more positive reviews. Caitlin McGarry of Macworld praised Apple for having "cleaned up the clutter, reconsidered the navigation tools, put your library front and center, and added algorithmically created playlists to rival Spotify’s." She noted bigger fonts, large amounts of white space, and she welcomed changes to various functionalities, concluding with the statement that "Apple Music’s redesign is a huge improvement over its previous incarnation, and a clear sign that Apple is listening to its customers". However, another Macworld editor, Oscar Raymundo, criticized the new design, writing that "Apple Music in iOS 10 is not as elegant or intuitive as Apple promised. The music service added more needless options, key actions like repeat got buried, and the For You section leaves a lot to be desired". Jordan Novet of VentureBeat wrote positively about the changes, stating "Apple has improved the overall design, as well as the experience".
iCloud matching technology controversyEdit
The implementation of iCloud Music Library caused significant issues for users. There were reports about music libraries being impacted by issues such as tracks moved to other albums, album art not matching the music, duplicate artists and songs, missing tracks, and synchronization problems. Mashable wrote that "Apple has not yet publicly acknowledged the problem or responded to our request for comment".
iCloud Music Library has also been reported to delete music from users' local storage, though this has been disputed by other publications as caused by user error or another application. Additionally, the feature was reported to have replaced uploaded content with a version locked with digital rights management. In July 2016, Apple switched the matching technology to incorporate features identical to iTunes Match, specifically the use of "audio fingerprints" to scan sound data. The new technology also removed DRM from downloaded matched songs.
Album exclusives criticismEdit
In August 2016, Frank Ocean released Blonde exclusively on Apple Music. The decision was made by Ocean independently, without Def Jam Recordings, his former label, being a part of the deal. The exclusive deal reportedly "ignited a music streaming war". The move followed in the footsteps of other artists, including Adele, Coldplay, Future, Drake, Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Kanye West, who released albums on exclusive terms with music streaming competitors of leading service Spotify. Jonathan Prince, Spotify's head of communications, told The Verge that "We’re not really in the business of paying for exclusives, because we think they’re bad for artists and they’re bad for fans. Artists want as many fans as possible to hear their music, and fans want to be able to hear whatever they’re excited about or interested in — exclusives get in the way of that for both sides. Of course, we understand that short promotional exclusives are common and we don't have an absolute policy against them, but we definitely think the best practice for everybody is wide release". Ocean's independent move to Apple Music exclusivity caused "a major fight in the music industry", and Universal Music Group reportedly banned the practice of exclusive releases for its signed artists. Soon after, several major record labels followed Universal, marking a significant change in the industry. According to unnamed label executives, Spotify had also introduced a new policy that said that the service would not give the same level of promotion once an album arrives on Spotify after other services, including not being prominently featured in playlists. Rolling Stone wrote in October 2016 that "if you wanted to keep up with new albums by Beyoncé, Drake, Frank Ocean and Kanye West, among many others, you would have had to subscribe to not one but two streaming services", adding that "But over the past few months, a backlash has developed against this new reality". Lady Gaga told Apple Music's Beats 1 radio that "I told my label that if they signed those contracts with Apple Music and Tidal, I'd leak all my own new music".
In May 2017, Apple Music executive Jimmy Iovine told Music Business Worldwide that "We tried it. We’ll still do some stuff with the occasional artist. The labels don’t seem to like it and ultimately it’s their content."
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