Apple singlehandedly turned the digital music marketplace on its head when it launched the iTunes Store in 2003 (go. macworld.com/is03). Since then, the iTunes Store has evolved into Apple Music (go.macworld.com/ evam), a music streaming service to compete with the likes of Spotify, Tidal, and other services.
Whether you’re new to Apple Music or have been a subscriber since day one, there’s a lot to take in—especially if you’re considering jumping ship from another service. Our guide to everything Apple Music can help set the record straight.
APPLE MUSIC: GETTING STARTED
What the heck is this thing? Apple Music combines subscription-based music streaming with global radio-like programming. It’s an all-you-can-eat service for subscribers: Pay a flat fee, and you unlock all of Apple Music’s extensive 60 million-song library.
The Music app, which is how you use the service, comes pre-installed on all new iPhones, iPads, iPod touches, and Macs. You can also access Apple Music on the web at music.apple.com (go.macworld.com/muap).
Isn’t Apple Music the same as the iTunes Store? Not at all. The iTunes Store is all about media ownership, functioning as both a virtual record store and an efficient digital library for music that you own personally. On the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, you’ll find an iTunes Store app separate from the Music app.
On the Mac, the iTunes app went away; Apple released new Music, Podcasts, and TV apps. The iTunes Store is now a section of the Music app and you can still buy music there.
If the iTunes Store is about buying music, then what is Apple Music about? Apple Music is all about streaming. You pay a flat fee to unlock access to Apple Music’s entire catalogue, but you don’t actually own the music you listen to. The files don’t live individually on your devices; you’re instead just listening to tracks stored remotely, that are owned by Apple. If you subscribe to any other media streaming subscription service—be it a music-only service like Spotify or Tidal, a TV service like Hulu, or a movie/TV combo service like Netflix or HBO Now—Apple Music functions the same way.
Is iTunes dead? Not exactly. It has taken on new forms. You can access your entire iTunes library from within Apple Music— just tap the My Music tab (think of your iTunes library now as your music library). The iTunes Store still exists if you prefer to continue to buy music à la carte.
If you had TV shows and movies in iTunes, you will find them in the TV app.
What makes Apple Music different from Spotify/Tidal/every other music subscription service? Apple puts a lot of emphasis on Apple Music’s Beats 1 and its curated playlists.
Beats 1 (go.macworld.com/btrd) is its radio offering, which features an around-the-clock worldwide live broadcast from DJs based in Los Angeles, New York, and London. It delivers a curated selection of songs, pop culture news, and interviews with artists.
Speaking of curation, Apple Music also offers up recommendations tailored to your tastes, looking at artists you like and serving up other artists and playlists for you to listen to. But instead of being built by algorithms, they are built by real people, according to Apple. You can find these in the For You section of the app—but first you’ll have to set it up by following the prompts to select genres and artists you like.
Apple Music’s library has over 60 million songs. Oh, and you can also watch music videos without ads, and check out Apple’s exclusive original content.
Apple Music used to have an artist-based social networking feature called Connect. Artists were able to share special content with fans through Connect. For example, hip-hop artist Drake used the service to post behind-the-scenes photos of his life, share snippets of new songs, and other content. But Apple discontinued the Connect service (go.macworld.com/cnsv).
How much does this cost? Apple Music costs $9.99 per month, or $14.99 per month for a family subscription for up to six people (which requires iCloud Family Sharing [go.macworld.com/ifsh]). College students can subscribe for $4.99 per month.
Can I try before I buy? Yes. Apple offers a free trial for new subscribers. If you cancel during the trial, you do not get another opportunity at a free trial.
Is there a free, ad-supported version? Sadly, no. Some aspects will be available to anyone who logs in with an Apple ID— namely, Beats 1, and the ability to listen to Apple Music radio stations with a limited number of skips. But a paid subscription is required to access Apple Music’s entire library.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Apple Teams With A-cold-wall On Beats Studio3 Headphones
The limited edition headphones will go on sale soon for $350.
What we're raving about this month
Google may have built a better iPhone with the Pixel 6
The Pixel 6 isn't just a new phone-it's a whole new outlook.
TWELVE SOUTH HOVERBAR DUO
When you're using your iPhone or iPad to do a task or for a FaceTime call, you need to place it in the proper position.
iCloud email won't send? Here's what to check to fix it
iCloud has restrictions that could prevent your email from being sent.
BATTERY PACK ZMI POWERPACK NO. 20: COMPACT EXTERNAL BATTERY CAN CHARGE A MACBOOK
The ZMI PowerPack No. 20 (Model QB826G) is the closest thing I've seen in many years to the kind of outboard laptop battery popular in the days when batteries burned through stored energy as quickly as sparklers. The PowerPack No. 20's prosaic name hides its massive output: up to 210 watts across three output ports simultaneously!
Beyerdynamic DT 700 Pro X
The DT 900 Pro X headphones are aimed at content creators: folks working on the production of music, podcasts, and similar pursuits in home studios and on the road.
AirPods vs. AirPods Pro: Which is right for your ears?
Don't know whether to buy the AirPods (2nd gen), AirPods (3rd gen), or AirPods Pro? Here's how they stack up.
iPhone 13 and iPad mini benchmarks don't tell whole story
Benchmarks of Apple's newest devices reveal a different kind of chip.
Andover Audio Songbird: This budget-priced music streamer is no featherweight
This low-priced audio component compares favorably to the likes of Sonos and Bluesound-at a fraction of the price.
ITALIAN COMPETITION WATCHDOG FINES APPLE, AMAZON $225M
Italy’s antitrust watchdog has fined Apple and Amazon a total of more than 200 million euros ($225 million) for cooperating to restrict competition in the sale of Apple and Beats branded products in violation of European Union rules.
APPLE SUING ISRAELI HACKER-FOR-HIRE COMPANY NSO GROUP
Apple announced it is suing Israel’s NSO Group, seeking to block the world’s most infamous hacker-for-hire company from breaking into Apple’s products, like the iPhone.
Do It Yourself
Apple opens a new era for device repairs
DID SHERIFF RAILROAD SEX CREEP CUOMO?
Prosecutor bares potential defects in criminal case
Pivot: Scott Galloway
Super-Apps Are Inevitable Get ready for the first $10 trillion tech company.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
UNDER PRESSURE, APPLE ALLOWS SELF-REPAIRS TO IPHONES, MACS
Apple is letting some iPhone users fix their own phones, a sharp turnaround for a company that has long prohibited anyone but company-approved technicians from fiddling with its proprietary parts and software.
How cryptocurrency could come to apple pay
iPad mini (2021)
Apple’s most portable iPad gets a complete redesign and a pro feel
iPhone 13 Pro
Yes, it’s good, but is it enough to tempt you?