Apple announced their new Apple Music service — a successor to Dr. Dre's Beats service, which the company previously purchased — during the annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote Monday morning. Apple's Tim Cook promised that it would change the way people experience music forever.
The Apple Music service will be available starting June 30, offering three months for free followed by moving up to $9.99/month. They're offering a family plan for $14.99/month, and allowing non-members to listen to their Beats1 radio service and use their artist Connect feature.
Music superstar Drake promoted the Apple Music Connect feature, connecting fans and artists. The Weeknd also debuted a new song in a performance to close the keynote.
Apple Music also isn't limited to Apple devices — it's also going to be available for Android, as they try to compete against streaming music industry leader Spotify. It also includes music videos, not just music.
The service's highlights, according to music executive Jimmy Iovine:
- A promise of providing the right playlist for the right moment
- An expanded radio service
- A portion targeted at artists, enabling them to more easily connect with fans
Dawn Chmielewski is the Senior Editor at Re/Code, and she joined us from San Francisco to weigh in on the Apple Music Announcement.
On whether or not Apple Music will change the way we listen to music, like Tim Cook claimed:
[laughs] Tim has a gift for understatement, as you can tell. It's clear that Apple needs to do something, at least for its own benefit. Right now, Apple really dominates the music download business: it has a 70% share of the music that consumers purchase via digital download.
But he's right in one respect: the world is changing, people are listening to music in a different way, and that's by music streams which are akin to radio. Apple's download business, the iTunes Store, is really losing its pull with consumers, or at least younger consumers who perhaps represent the future for the music business. So Apple needed to change and offer a music service that was more attuned to the way consumers are listening to music now.
On Apple's attempt to wade in to every market for music listening:
Apple attempted to create radio algorithmically, so they created a bloodless bunch of playlists that listeners could hear on their iPhones as they went running or went about their day, but it was an experience that truly was anemic and didn't appeal to consumers. It missed the personality of a radio station or the sophisticated curation that people who know music can really bring to playlists.
So that's what Apple's attempting to do with this version of their music service -- they're creating a programmed radio offering, hiring one of the BBC's top DJs to program a 24-hour radio station which sounds just like the radio we're familiar with, and they're also learning from the Beats Music service, which they acquired last year.
On giving Apple Music a try when it's released:
I'll give it a listen, but it has a lot of competition in the market. It has competition not only from the radio in our cars, but also satellite radio has millions of subscribers. Meanwhile, they're entering the digital side against Spotify, which has an 80% share of the music that is streamed via the internet to some device. Most of Spotify's listeners listen free, so Apple's going to have to find a way to create a compelling offering that is not free.
The music service was announced by Iovine (whom you might know from working with huge artists, as well as being a regular on several seasons of "American Idol"). Iovine talked about a variety of challenges the music industry had faced with technology, from Napster to Limewire. They also cited involvement in developing the service from Dr. Dre and Trent Reznor.
Apple introduced their music service with an artsy video going through the history of music. The music announcement was saved for the end of the keynote, serving as Apple's famous "one more thing" that they always save for the end of their big events.
The event opened up with a video of actor/comedian Bill Hader playing the event's director. It also included other funny people, like Charlyne Yi, Danny Pudi and Matt Walsh, as well as nods to Angry Birds, Tinder, Goat Simulator and more iconic apps.
Other highlights included a News app, a Transit app and updates to many existing apps, including Health and Apple Pay. Apple also announced updates to their three operating systems — OS X, iOS and watchOS. Apple also took shots at Windows and Android for having significantly lower adoption rates than Apple when it comes to having the most recent OSes.
This year's WWDC in San Francisco runs through Friday.
This story has been updated.