Apple Music is Apple's massive music service, comprising a subscription music catalog, iCloud Music Library syncing across your devices, Beats 1 live and algorithmic radio, customized playlists, and more artist exclusives than you can shake a stick at.
What is Apple Music?
Apple Music is, to quote the company, "All the ways you love music. All in one place."
In non-marketing lingo, Apple Music is built around two major components: iCloud Music Library, which combines your purchased music library and ripped tracks in one place; and the Apple Music streaming catalog, where you can find more than 10 million tracks from artists around the world.
These two parts live side by side in the Music app: You can keep each separate by only streaming the Apple Music catalog, or you can add streaming songs to your offline Music library, where they can be mixed into playlists (offline or publicly shareable) or shuffled amongst the rest of your music.
Apple Music also offers a massive recommendation and browsing area for its streaming catalog: As you listen to songs in the Music app, Apple collects data about your tastes and drops daily custom-curated playlists in the app for you to listen to, along with a weekly algorithmic "New Music" mix that suggests songs and artists you might like. You can also poke around the entire streaming catalog's array of new music, curated playlists, music videos, and more.
Lastly, Apple Music includes a live, 24/7 radio station called Beats 1: It's only available to paying subscribers and features three main DJs along with a panoply of specialty shows from artists like Dr Dre, Elton John, Ryan Adams, Frank Ocean, Major Lazer, and Anna Lunoe.
Why did Apple make a streaming music service?
More and more people are listening to streaming music, and for good reason: When you can listen to just about any artist, genre, and song you set your heart on, it's a lot more enticing than playing the same thousand songs from your personal library.
By adding a streaming component to its service, Apple can unify the music you already own with its gigantic catalog and let you mix your purchased or uploaded music together with your streamed songs — whether or not you have them locally stored on your device.
On top of that, Apple thinks it can help you find great new music to either stream or purchase with tailored recommendations, hand-built playlists, and its Beats 1 radio station.
Do I have to pay for Apple Music?
Yes, but not at first: The company offers a free three-month trial for everyone when they first subscribe, whether you own an iPhone, iPad, iPod, Mac, Android, or PC. Once those three months are up, you'll have to pay $9.99/mo to continue taking advantage of all that Apple Music has to offer.
There's a family plan, too, right?
Yup! If you have a few people in your house who love streaming, just sign up for the $14.99/mo family plan and up to six people in your family can jam out to Apple Music. You don't even need to use the same Apple ID for each device, either: You just have to turn on iCloud Family Sharing.
- Is there a student plan?
Yes! Apple is offering students in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Brazil, and New Zealand whose schools can be authenticated by third-party service Unidays a $4.99/month discounted membership option.
This membership is good for the length of your student tenure or four consecutive years, whichever comes first. You can find more information about student plans on Apple's website.