Promising nothing less than “the next chapter in music,” Apple on Monday unveiled Apple Music, its highly anticipated entry into online music streaming.
Apple Music, designed to compete with Spotify, Pandora, Rhapsody and other early entrants in the crowded music-streaming space, will launch June 30 in more than 100 countries.
It will cost $9.99 per month, “the price of an album,” Apple vice president Eddy Cue said at an event Monday in San Francisco. An Apple Music family plan, for up to six family members, will cost $14.99.
Apple is offering the service for free for the first three months. It will be available exclusively for Apple devices at launch and will roll out for devices running Google’s Android operating system this fall, Cue said.
“We love music, and the new Apple Music service puts an incredible experience at every fan’s fingertips,” said Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services.
With the release of Apple Music, the company is acknowledging the seismic shift in music consumption that’s happened since it last changed the game with iTunes in 2003.
In 2014, digital music revenues hit $6.9 billion, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). Subscription services, like the ad-free, paid versions of Spotify and Pandora, accounted for 23% of digital sales, or $1.6 billion in revenue.
Unlike most of its rivals in the streaming space, Apple Music will have no free, ad-supported version. Instead, users will get access to the Apple catalog’s more than 30 million songs and “tens of thousands” of music videos only through the $9.99 cost of the app.
Users will have a personalized “For You” homepage, curated both by human staffers and a computer algorithm based on their stated preferences, activity with the app and the contents of their iTunes inventory.
And while streaming is the linchpin of Apple Music, the app aims to be more.
Also included will be Apple Music Radio — live, 24-hour radio stations programmed and staffed in Los Angeles, New York and London. Its first station, Beats 1, will be live at launch and feature “some of the world’s finest radio DJs.”
Apple Music Connect will seek to add a social aspect to the app.
Users will be able to follow musicians of their choosing, who are in turn invited to share music, videos, status updates and other social-media fare.
The launch of Apple Music will test whether the Cupertino, California, tech giant can use its considerable influence to persuade consumers to once again pay for their music online.
Spotify, for instance, has a reported 60 million total users. Of those, only about 15 million have ponied up the $10 monthly fee to go ad-free and get full mobile access. The rest, it would seem, are satisfied to listen to ads and get their on-demand music for free.
Apple has advantages, though. While Spotify and Pandora rely almost exclusively on word-of-mouth, Apple will no doubt advertise heavily for its new service.
And it doesn’t hurt that through iTunes and its mobile App Store, the company already has 800 million credit cards on file, many of them from Apple loyalists willing to pony up for almost every product the company rolls out.
Apple Music was unveiled Monday at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, an annual gathering of people who design and build apps for the company’s products.
Doug Gross is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected].
Image via Business Wire