Apple Music is an ecosystem of complementary products and services, spanning a la carte music downloads, music streaming, social and artist to fan contact, radio stations including Beats 1 and both algorithmic and human-curated music recommendations. Some tips:
The Apple Music interface is pretty simple – as the image shows you can explore your own music (My Music), check music recommendations in For You, explore what’s New and listen to Radio (Beats1). You can also explore material from acts you like in Connect.
Create an Apple ID
If you don’t already have an Apple ID then create one. It gives anyone running iTunes on a compatible device free access to Beats 1 radio, Apple Music radio stations, and the capacity to view and follow artists on Apple Connect. To create an Apple ID, navigate to this page and follow the instructions. You will get a free three-month trial, after which membership costs $9.99/month. (Or $14.99/month for iCloud Family Sharing.
When using Apple Music on iOS you can ask Siri to manage things for you, some sample commands include:
- Play the top songs from 1978
- Play more songs like this
- What was the number one song in XXXX?
- After this song play [name song]
- Add the new [Artist Name] album to my library
Beats 1 will be available to anyone with an Apple ID, but the Radio section of Apple Music will offer curated stations designed around genres and mood (think things like Pop Hits).
Who is presenting Beats1 shows?
As well as Zane Lowe, Ebro Darden and Julie Adenuga, Apple will offer celebrity spots from Josh Homme, Pharrell, Drake, Dr Dre, St Vincent, Disclosure, Elton John, and Jaden Smith. (That's in the first wave; later, I predict a Taylor Swift show).
You’re not confined to listening through curated playlists, you can skip tracks, though you can only skip six tracks an hour if you are using the free services.
Apple Music’s ‘For You’ section will recommend tracks to you. Jeff Miller at audio blog Crutchfield points out that when used with Beats these curated recommendations “get it right more often than not," so you should use this feature. You can improve recommendations by tapping once on acts you like, twice on those you love or pressing and holding those you don’t like to make them disappear. Apple Music will also learn from the music you hear to hone its recommendations.
Your own station
You can create your own stations by selecting any song, album, or artist. iTunes will create a list you can adjust to suit your taste.
What’s great about the service is that Apple invites new acts to submit tracks via Connect. These tracks will become part of the system, and when new musicians manage to truly hit a meme I’m in no doubt their tracks will soon appear on Apple Radio and as recommended tracks in individual playlists, which could create new music stars quite rapidly. I confess to being excited to see who these acts will be.
Apple Music doesn’t replace iTunes Match – Apple will still try to keep a copy of your music library in the cloud; Apple Music lets you access songs not in that library, and download them for offline use. Apple Music will also enable cloud-based access to any music you own via any of your devices. Not every iTunes track will be available to stream via Apple Music; those that you have purchased will be available via iTunes Match. Clear? We’ll see how this works in practice, I guess.
Apple Music will launch in 100 countries, but Apple hasn’t yet signed every label in every territory, meaning some key artists may not be available in every country. It’s not clear what happens if you have a US Apple Music account and you stream music in Australia – though it appears likely you will receive the US service, rather than local one. This means some users will be setting up US accounts to enjoy the best service.
Windows, Mac and iOS users can use Apple Music from day one, once they upgrade the music software on their devices. Android users (at least on selected devices) will be able to use the service in fall.
You can stream tracks using an Apple Watch.
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