Tipped to be one of the biggest launches of the year, Here's how the Apple and Beats music streaming service is taking shape
Apple will soon reboot the Beats-based music streaming service, which is expected to be integrated into iOS, iTunes and Apple TV under Apple’s Music app.
Tim Cook and company has been working on Apple's answer to Spotify, Deezer, Tidal and the rest for some time, pulling the technology from Beats Music which it acquired in 2014 for a cool $3 billion.
Details are still thin on the ground, though it's thought that the new service will port over features from Beats Music such as Mixes and Playlists. It’s likely that the Beats Music name will be dropped, with ’Apple Beats’ being the unofficial name that’s being used by many in the meantime.
Here’s what we know about ‘Apple Beats’ so far.
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Apple will unveil its new Music service at WWDC
Apple is expected to unveil its new Beats-based music streaming service at its annual WWDC developer’s event on June 8th 2015.
Some reports hint that the service won’t actually be available until a little later as not all of the licensing deals will be in place in time, but a WWDC reveal is still expected with the new service forming part of the iOS 8.4 update.
It’s possible that the service won’t actually launch until iOS 9 is rolled out in the autumn.
‘Apple Beats’ could replace iTunes Radio
iTunes Radio first launched in the US in 2013 but still hasn't made it to the UK. It’s now looking likely that Apple’s incoming Beats-based music service will replace iTunes Radio entirely.
The existing service is currently only available Stateside and Australia and has had a lukewarm reception, with only a tiny number of listeners actually making purchases.
While iTunes Radio appears in the iOS 8.4 beta, it’s possible that this is merely a teaser of how it will fit into the brand new Music app.
Apple is also rumoured to be working on an Android version of its new Music app - which would mark the first time that Apple has produced something for Google’s mobile OS.
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Apple is recruiting Radio 1 staff
Having already poached big name DJ Zane Lowe for an as yet unspecified role, Apple has also managed to tempt four top BBC producers to defect.
Lowe’s former producer James Bursey is thought to be joining his old pal in LA, while the remaining three producers will work from Apple’s London office. The mass exodus has been gloriously dubbed ‘the Apple crumble’ by insiders at the Beeb.
Apple is clearly impressed with Radio 1’s knack for attracting young listeners and championing emerging talent and wants a slice of the pie (or crumble).
Apple has been trying to convince labels to drop Spotify free streaming (allegedly)
Apple has supposedly been putting pressure on major music labels to make Spotify drop its free streaming tier.
According to The Verge, Apple has been using its considerable music industry clout to convince big labels not to renew free streaming options with existing music streaming services. With 60 million listeners, Spotify is the biggest target.
Success would pave the way for Apple to grab a considerable number of new listeners, especially if the rumours about exclusive content are true.
In the US, both the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are apparently looking into the issue, while Apple is reportedly also under scrutiny from the European Union’s Competition Commission.
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Apple will offer exclusive content from big artists
Kanye West reportedly turned down a multi-million dollar deal with Apple, presumably as he was already locked into Jay-Z’s high-def Tidal streaming service. With the likes of Beyonce, Rihanna, Madonna, Calvin Harris and Jack White already signed up to Tidal, Tim Cook will have to look elsewhere.
Apple has supposedly made similar approaches to several big name artists including Taylor Swift and Florence and the Machine, though it’s unlikely to confirm any details of its much-rumoured exclusive content until the big launch in June.
With Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor on board at Beats as Chief Creative Officer, some exclusive NIN music seems inevitable, while Beats co-founder and longtime producer Tommy Iovine should also provide some industry clout in order to reel in some big names.
Let’s hope Apple has someone other than U2 up its sleeve this time round.
It probably won’t cost less than Spotify
While Apple is keeping tight-lipped on costs, Bloomberg speculated that a monthly subscription would cost $7.99 a month, which would be less than the $9.99 charged for the current incarnation of Beats Music. It would also undercut Spotify’s $9.99.
However, subsequent reports have suggested that Apple may well go for an industry-standard $9.99 after all, with a family membership costing $14.99. Like Tidal, Beats Music is likely to ignore a free subscription option, so if you want it, you'll have to pay up.