Apple Music: Our Complete Guide

Tuesday September 24, 2019 4:23 PM PDT by Juli Clover

Apple Music is Apple's streaming music service, comparable to other similar streaming services like Spotify, Amazon Music Unlimited, Google Play Music, Tidal, and others.

Apple Music boasts access to a total of 50 million songs. Content can be streamed or downloaded for offline play, and there are also song and genre-based radio stations available along with the curated Beats 1 radio station.


Apple Music integrates with your existing iCloud Music Library, so you can combine Apple Music songs with songs that you have previously purchased on iTunes all in one unified location.

Apple Music's Unique Features

All of the streaming services have differences, and with Apple Music, Apple has focused on human curation. While there are some algorithmically created playlists, a lot of the content highlighted on Apple Music is done by Apple Music editors.

Apple offers regularly updated personalized playlists in a "For You" tab, including a favorites mix, a chill mix, a friends mix, and a new music mix, along with other playlist options that are updated on a daily basis.


Apple Music also often has exclusive album releases, documentaries, and music videos that aren't available on other platforms as a way to lure subscribers.

Beats 1, Apple Music's 24/7 live radio station, is also one of the service's most unique features. It features songs curated by DJs along with a multitude of special shows, sometimes created by artists.

Live Radio Stations

Apple in iOS 13 added support for more than 100,000 live radio stations from around the world to Apple Music. You can ask Siri to play your favorite local radio station.

What's Included in a Subscription

  • Unlimited access to Apple Music songs on demand
  • Personalized algorithmic playlists
  • Curated playlists
  • Mood-based playlists
  • User-created playlists
  • Beats 1 Radio
  • Access to other radio stations
  • Offline song playback
  • Existing music matched to iTunes catalog and added to ‌iCloud‌ Music Library
  • Music and playlist syncing across all Apple Music-compatible devices

Apple Music Availability

Apple Music is available in over 100 countries and regions, with a full list of countries available on Apple's website.

Device Compatibility

Apple music works on all of Apple's devices, including iPhone (CarPlay included), iPad, Apple Watch (with no ‌iPhone‌ on LTE models), Apple TV, Mac (in iTunes), and HomePod.

It's also available on non-Apple devices, so you don't need to be an Apple user to get it. It works on on PCs with the PC version of iTunes, on Android devices with the Android Apple Music app, on Sonos devices, and on Amazon-branded Echo devices.

Cost

Unlike Spotify, Apple Music does not offer a free ad-supported music tier. A paid subscription is required for all Apple Music content.

A standard Apple Music subscription costs $9.99 per month in the United States. With UNiDAYS verification, college students can sign up for a discounted Apple Music subscription that costs $4.99 per month.

A family plan is available for $14.99 per month, and it allows up to six people to listen to Apple Music. A family subscription requires Family Sharing to be set up, which requires all people in the family to use the same credit card for iTunes billing purposes.

Pricing does vary by country, but is similar to the U.S. pricing.

In the United States, Verizon subscribers with Beyond Unlimited or Above Unlimited data plans can access Apple Music for free.

Free Trial

Apple offers free three-month free trials for Apple Music, and in some cases, has been known to offer additional trial months to encourage listeners to sign up for a paid subscription.

Apple Music Basics

Using Apple Music

Managing Your Music

Finding Songs

Radio

Sharing

Apple Music on Other Devices

More Apple Music Tips

Apple Music Comparison Guides

Trying to decide between Apple Music and another service? Make sure to check out our guides comparing Apple Music with other streaming music options that are out there.

In a nutshell, Apple Music is the ideal choice if you're in the Apple ecosystem, have a ‌HomePod‌, prefer human-based curation, and already have an existing iTunes music collection.

Music Quality

Apple Music uses 256Kb/s AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) files. For comparison, Spotify, Apple Music's largest competitor, uses 320Kb/s Ogg Vorbis files, but while that sounds like it's better quality, the two are not identical.

Both AAC and Ogg Vorbis are different compression formats with different sound profiles, but both are similar and the average person isn't going to be able to tell one from the other. CNET has a great comparison testing the sound quality of Apple Music and Spotify.

DRM

You can download songs from Apple Music for offline playback, but the content that you download is protected by DRM (digital rights management), much like other streaming music services.

If you cancel your Apple Music subscription, the Apple Music songs that you've downloaded were no longer work. Apple Music songs also can't be transferred to other devices, downloaded, burned to CD, or used off device in any way.

Note that with ‌iCloud‌ Music Library enabled, all of your Apple Music content will be available on all of your Apple Music-compatible devices.

Guide Feedback

Have an Apple Music question or tip that you don't see available in our guide? Email us at tips@macrumors.com.

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