(Pocket-lint) - Apple Music is a subscription-based music streaming service, like Spotify, offering access to over 90 million songs.
It's packed with features, including offline listening for when you're not connected, and it combines all your music in one place - even songs ripped from a CD. Apple Music also offers up live radio stations and integration with Siri so you can control most things with voice commands.
This feature offers everything you need to know about Apple Music, including how much it costs, what it offers, and how to use it.
What is Apple Music?
Apple Music launched in 2015, following Apple's acquisition of Beats Electronics in 2014 that included the now-discontinued Beats Music subscription service.
The Apple Music service not only lets you stream on-demand any track from the iTunes catalogue but also access all your music in one place on all of your devices, whether purchased from iTunes, copied from a CD, or downloaded from the web.
The streaming service also offers up recommendations tailored to your interests, internet radio (in the form of the Apple Music 1 (formerly Beats 1) radio station among others), the ability to save music to your device for offline listening, expert-curated playlists, integration with the Siri assistant on iOS devices and features like Lyrics view.
How much does Apple Music cost?
Apple Music is free for three months when you sign up to the free trial, after which there are three plans available, with a fourth plan coming. An Individual plan costs £9.99 or $9.99 a month. A Family plan, available for up to six people, costs for £14.99 or $14.99 a month - which is cheaper than Spotify's equivalent. The third plan is the University Student plan, which costs £4.99/$4.99 per month.
There is also a Voice plan that costs £4.99/$4.99 a month, whereby you can access Apple Music but only through voice and Siri on your devices.
It's worth noting there is the Apple One bundle too - detailed below - that will save you money if you subscribe to multiple Apple services.
Apple One bundle
Apple's services bundle for Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+, and Fitness+ launched in October 2020 and is called Apple One. It allow you to subscribe to Apple Music through one of three different Apple One bundle tiers: Individual, Family, and Premier. Apple One's Individual and Family plans are available in over 100 countries and regions, including in the US and UK. The Premier plan also launched, but only in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.
Here's how much each Apple One tier costs:
- Individual: You get Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 50GB of iCloud storage for £14.95/$14.95 per month.
- Family: Up to six members of your family get Apple Music, Apple TV+, and Apple Arcade, and 200GB of iCloud for £14.95/$19.95 per month.
- Premier: Includes all the other benefits, but ups the iCloud storage to 2TB per month and adds subscriptions to the News+ magazine and newspaper service and Fitness+ service for £29.95/$29.95 per month.
First-time subscribers can follow these steps to subscribe to Apple One:
- Open the Settings app on your iOS device.
- Go to your name at the top of Settings.
- Select the Subscriptions menu.
- Select Get Apple One.
- Choose the Apple One tier you want.
- Select Start Free trial.
If you already have an Apple subscription, like to Apple Music, you'll receive a pro-rated refund for any days remaining on your existing subscription(s).
For more details, check out our guide on Apple One.
Do you need a subscription?
If you don't have a paid subscription, Apple Music still lets you listen to music you've purchased, ripped, or uploaded to your device but you won't get access to all the features Apple Music offers, like offline listening.
For those with iTunes Match, you'll be able to use Apple Music to listen to any music you've uploaded to iCloud without an Apple Music subscription. You'll also be able to listen to Apple Music 1 and listen to ad-supported Apple stations.
An Apple Music subscription offers all of the benefits of iTunes Match, along with access to the entire Apple Music catalogue. You'll get unlimited skips for Apple Music radio stations, unlimited listening for the entire Apple Music catalogue and access to your purchased and ripped library.
You can stream songs uploaded to iCloud, receive curated recommendations, and you can save songs to your library for offline listening.
Which devices support Apple Music?
You can access Apple Music via the following devices:
- iOS devices - Update to latest iOS version and launch the Music app
- Apple Watch - Update from a paired iPhone (iPhone 5 or later)
- Apple TV - Default Music app is available on new Apple TV box
- Mac - Update to and launch the latest version of iTunes
- PC - Update to and launch the latest version of iTunes
- HomePod - The smart speakersupports Apple Music out of the box.
- Android - Download the app on Google Play and launch the app
- Sonos - Download and launch the Sonos app
Mac and PC users will also need to upgrade to the newest version of iTunes, which you can do from this Apple support page. Meanwhile, Android users can go to this support page to learn more about how to get Apple Music on their phones up and running.
Does Apple Music work on Apple Watch?
You can sync music from your Apple Music library to your Apple Watch - just like a playlist. All music is locally stored on Apple Watch.
Where is Apple Music available?
Apple Music is available in more than 100 countries, including the US and the UK. Check out the full list here.
How do you navigate Apple Music?
Once you download the Apple Music app and sign up, you will go through a music-tailoring process, which will ask you to select music genres you like and dislike, followed by artists you like and dislike. After you've moved through the simple process, you'll find yourself on the Listen Now screen.
There is a menu bar at the bottom of the screen for navigation and to which section of Apple Music you are in. There are five screen tabs in the menu bar:
Listen Now: A curated selection of music you should enjoy. It's based on what you said you like, your listening habits, and the music you own. The first time you launch Apple Music, you'll be able to specify what genres and artists you like. From that point, you'll see the screen loaded with suggestions like genre-specific playlists, albums, guest playlists made by artists, etc. Recently Played also appears here, as well as playlists based on other playlists you've already listened to.
Browse: An editorially-curated selection of music from across the service. This section also highlights hot playlists, tracks and albums, top songs, new releases, etc. You can view these new curations by genre too. You'll also find Artist Interviews, Daily Top 100 lists, City Charts and Music By Mood, among others.
Radio: A home for Apple Music 1, the 24/7, globally-broadcasted radio station. You will see an option to listen at the very top of the section. Below that, you'll see Pandora-like stations as well as iTunes Radio's old channels. There's also your own radio station that pulls in songs it thinks you'll enjoy based on your listening habits.
Library: A place for you to navigate through all of your music, whether it comes from iTunes, a CD, or all the streamable tunes in Apple Music. Every time you add a song, album, or playlist, it can be found at the top ounder Playlists, Artists, Albums or Songs. This page is customisable.
Search: The Search tab allows you to search the whole of the Apple Music catalogue and your library. You can even search by lyrics, typing just a few words from a song you like and it will find it for you. It will also show you what's trending in this section.
How does Apple Music work?
There are several features, controls, and options baked into Apple Music. Here area few key ones worth remembering:
Play music: Tap any play button on a playlist, or tap on an individual song or album, to see a miniplayer appear at the bottom of the screen. Tap on the miniplayer to see the Now Playing screen and various controls, including the ability to download a song for offline listening, skip, play next, favourite or dislike, share, AirPlay, add to your library, start a station, or see the lyrics. Swipe down to exit.
Use Siri: You can ask Siri to "play the top songs from 2021", "play more songs like this", "add the new Drake album to my library", "play all songs by Drake" (to listen to all of Drake's music, even if it's not in your library), and "play my music by Drake" (to hear Drake's songs that you have saved to your library). You can also ask Siri to shuffle the songs in an album or playlist. There are also a new range of playlists coming that can be controlled via Siri. For these, you could ask Siri to plan music for a dinner party, for example.
Search: Tap the magnifying glass button in the bottom right-hand corner to search genres, songs, albums, and artists. Search works across Apple Music and your own music. If you search Drake, you will see top results, songs, albums, playlists, artists, and stations related to Drake. To see results from your own music collection, just tap the "Your Library" option at the top.
Build library: Search for an artist, such as Drake, then pick a song, and tap the "+" button to add an album or playlist to your library, or tap the three dots next to a song and then "Add to Library". There's also a "Download" option when you tap on the three dots, allowing for offline listening. For albums, the "+" sign will turn into a download sign once added.
Edit playlists: You can add any song or album to a playlist by tapping the three-dot (more options) button from the Now Playing screen and selecting Add to a Playlist. From there, you can add to any playlist or make a new one. Also, under Playlists on the Library screen, you'll see options to sort all your playlists and create new ones. Just fill in details and then add songs.
Share music: Tap the share button on any song or playlist in the three dots menu to share a link to Facebook or Twitter, send in Mail or Messages, or copy the link.
Hear Apple Music 1: Go to the Radio tab and then tap on the show on air or any of the featured shows. The radio tab will not only show what's on air right now, but you'll see a schedule of upcoming shows and DJs below too.
Listen offline: Apple Music lets you download copies of any available songs, albums, or playlists you want to your devices. It's helpful if you're going to be out of range. Just go to a song or album, then tap the three-dot button to see more options, and select the download button to download it to your device (and library). There's no limit to what you can keep offline or for how long. You can also tap the "+" to add a song to your library and then tap it again to download it.
Your account: A profile symbol can be found in the top right corner of the Listen Now tab. Tap it to access account-related settings, such as see what your friends are listening to, upgrade your subscription, and manage notifications.
What is Apple Music TV?
Apple Music TV is a music video channel. You access it from the Browse section of the Apple Music app or the Apple TV app.
Apple Music TV is different from Apple Music 1 (previously branded as Beats 1). Apple Music TV is a free, 24-hour, curated live stream of popular music videos, while Apple Music 1 is a 24/7 music radio station owned by Apple. Both are accessible through the Apple Music app.
Apple's music video channel premieres new videos at noon ET every Friday. It hosts original Apple Music content, from concerts to interviews. For instance, Bruce Springsteen was one of the first to appear on Apple Music TV to promote his upcoming album, Letter to You, via music videos, a live stream, and a Zane Lowe interview.
What are some tips and tricks?
Check out Pocket-lint's round-up of Apple Music tips and tricks worth knowing.
Are there any alternatives?
The obvious alternatives include: Spotify, YouTube Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, Deezer and Tidal. Each of these services allow you to not only stream music but also keep listening when offline, though you'll need a paid subscription for access to offline-listening as well as other premium features. You can learn more about all these services by checking out the following Pocket-lint round-ups: