Apple Music is a music streaming service similar to Spotify. It gives you unlimited streaming access to a library of millions of songs. Unlike most competitors, Apple Music offers high-resolution and lossless audio at no additional cost, so you may want to subscribe if you’re interested in high-quality audio.
At first glance, all music streaming services are the same. This may be true on some level, but Apple Music takes a different approach than some of its competitors. Let’s take a look at what makes Apple Music special.
What is Apple Music?
Apple Music is a music streaming service where instead of buying individual songs or albums, you pay a monthly fee for all the music you can listen to. You can also download the songs for offline listening. As of this writing, Apple Music’s library has more than 100 million songs, the most of any music streaming service except SoundCloud.
In terms of experience, where Apple Music differs from competitors like Spotify is how you discover new music on the service. While Spotify focuses heavily on music discovery, Apple Music focuses on exclusive radio stations like Music 1, which features new music, interviews, and breaking news. Additionally, Apple Music offers curated playlists that cover different music genres or even moods.
Apple Music is, unsurprisingly, available on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices running any recent version of the operating system through the AppStore. It is also available on any modern Android device through the Play Store. On Mac, since the arrival of Catalina, you get a custom music app. On earlier versions of macOS and on Windows, you can access Apple Music through the iTunes app.
Speaking of iTunes, although you can find Apple Music in the iTunes app and the iTunes Store in the Mac Music app, the two services are not the same. iTunes is still the way to buy individual songs and albums, as well as movies and TV shows, on Apple devices.
Apple Music is supported in more than 100 countries around the world. If you are curious to know if Apple Music is available in a certain county, you can check Apple’s media service availability lists..
Loyalty and features
As we mentioned earlier, Apple Music at the time of writing is one of the few services that offer lossless audio as part of the basic package. This just gives the service an edge, but keep in mind that you’ll only be able to take advantage of lossless audio with wired headphones. Enabling lossless audio on Apple Music is a simple process.
High-Resolution Audio (better-than-CD-quality audio) is available, but it’s not exactly easily accessible. Apple’s Lightning Adapter and similar adapters support up to 24-bit/48kHz audio. For something higher, like 24-bit/192kHz, you’ll need an external digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and headphone amp, assuming one isn’t built into the DAC.
That said, if you’re listening on AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, or other compatible headphones, you can access Spatial Audio, which works with Dolby Atmos. This is available with more and more albums and can make listening with headphones feel like you’re listening to speakers in a room. Other services like Tidal also support Atmos, but in the case of Tidal, it’s not part of the basic tier.
Finally, there are the radio stations that Apple championed at the launch of Apple Music. These are still popular, but Apple’s curated genre playlists are the highlight of the service, especially if you like to dive into different music genres and explore their roots.
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Plans and Prices
Apple Music costs $10.99 per month or $109 per year for an individual plan. A family plan is also available that allows up to six people to listen for $16.99 per month, with no annual subscription currently available. College students get a discount by paying $4.99 per month for an individual subscription.
Apple Music is also available as part of the Apple One bundle. This starts at $16.95 per month for individuals and combines Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and iCloud storage. The Apple One for Families package starts at $22.95 per month, with a $32.95 per month Premier subscription that adds Apple News+ and Apple Fitness+.
Apple Music doesn’t charge extra for lossless audio, which was added to the service in 2021. The service also doesn’t charge an extra fee for listening to music in high-resolution audio when it’s available, while many competing services do.
Finally, Apple Music Voice offers a limited version of Apple Music for $5 per month. This is an individual subscription, with the limit that you can only interact with the service using Siri, so you’ll need a compatible device.
Apple Music offers a one-month free trial for anyone who isn’t already a subscriber. That said, you can sometimes get longer trials in conjunction with a new headset or similar purchase.
Can you use Apple Music without a subscription?
Apart from the trial version, you can technically use Apple Music without a subscription, although it doesn’t have much to offer. You can listen to Beats One and some other radio stations available on Apple Music, but with limited skips. This is mainly.
Spotify gives non-subscription users ad-supported access to most of the service with a few caveats, like limited skips, and only shuffling playlists and albums. Apple Music does not offer an equivalent service to this.
That said, if you own digital music, whether purchased from iTunes or elsewhere, you can play compatible music on your phone with the Music app. This does not give you access to the service, but you are using the app without a subscription.
Should you use Apple Music?
If you’re already invested in the Apple ecosystem, Apple Music is an instant recommendation. Not only does it offer more bang for the buck than many competing services, but it’s heavily integrated into several Apple products, making it easy to listen to music on any of your devices.
Even if you’re not an Apple user, Apple Music is almost tied with $9 per month Amazon Music Unlimited as the cheapest way to stream high-resolution, lossless audio. Of those two, Apple Music is the superior service in terms of catalog and features.
Finally, if you prefer real radio stations and curated playlists to Spotify’s algorithmic music discovery features and exclusive podcasts, Apple Music might work better for you. It’s not for everyone, but it’s absolutely one of the best music streaming services available today.