Apple took the wraps off its dedicated music streaming service, Apple Music, yesterday during the first day of its annual WWDC in San Francisco.
The service, which will be launching later in June, aims to deliver something to rival the likes of Spotify, which currently rules the premium music streaming roost, but what exactly can users expect and how will it impact Spotify – if at all?
As you’d expect from Apple, the new Apple Music service looks to be pretty slick. The new app, which is still under development, looks minimal and user friendly with three major categories vying for your attention: For You, New and Radio.
For You will lay-up recommendations, New will punt new music and Radio is just that – a radio service. At the forefront of the Radio service is the company’s new Beats 1 station, which will serve up ad-free music for everyone and real DJ’s too, with the likes of former MTV and BBC man Zane Lowe on-board from the get-go.
Other radio stations will also be included as part of the new app but they, like the music streaming service, will require a premium membership.
While there’s no official pricing information available for the UK release of Apple Music (yet) we can take a look at the US model for an idea of what we’re going to be looking at come June, when the service goes live – all we expect to have to do is change the $ sign to a £ one, as has become the norm for trans-Atlantic pricing.
For $9.99/month (£6.50) you’ll get a single person membership, which is the same price as Spotify charges Stateside, but the first real defining area between the two services (for now) is that Apple is planning to charge only $14.99/month (£9.80) for a family membership, which will serve up to six people.
Spotify’s family plan starts at $14.99/month (£9.80) for two people, and goes all the way up to $29.99/month (£19.60) for a family of five. Spotify says it will match Apple’s pricing when the time comes, so we won’t throw them under the bus just yet.
Apple’s streaming service will offer users over 30 million tracks, roughly the same as Spotify, though you’ll find some artists on Spotify who aren’t on Apple Music and vice-versa. One key strength that Apple has, which could come into play in this area, is its financial muscle.
The company is a premium name and is sitting on a pot of cash containing somewhere in the region of $178 billion, so it may be able to acquire music that the smaller company may not and we wouldn’t put it past Cupertino to exercise its pecuniary pecs at the first available opportunity, especially if it might knock some competition out of the game.
Both contenders are truly cross platform too. Yep, that’s right, as hard as it is to believe, Apple Music will be coming to both Android and Windows (later in the year), which could potentially rain on Spotify’s parade even further.
Overall the introduction of Apple Music should concern Spotify’s creators. Of course, Spotify has been around longer, has a well-established fan base and delivers a good service which works but, for whatever reason, the world seems to love Apple.
The company’s iPhone brand continues to grow in popularity, despite there being superior hardware on the market, and the fact that people won’t have to really think about anything to subscribe to Apple Music, given the fact that the company will already have their credit card number, will make a difference.
Add to that Cupertino’s financial might and you’ve got a potential enemy on Spotify’s starboard bow which will take some beating.
What that means for us, the end user, is unclear, but if Apple is successful in putting Spotify down, it’ll mean less choice for the public and when has a lack of competition ever been a good thing?