Apple Music: Everything you need to know

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Apple Music home screen

Credit: Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Spotify might still be the biggest music streaming platform in the world, but Apple Music is now nipping at its heels. In just five years it’s grown to over 70 million subscribers, and after largely replacing iTunes in 2019 it’s become an even bigger part of Apple’s subscription service push.

Unlike some of Apple’s other offerings like Apple TV Plus, the platform is available on more than just Apple devices. It also has aspirations far beyond just music streaming, with the budget and vision to make that future a reality.

So what is Apple Music and is it worth a subscription? Keep reading for everything you need to know about the platform, from features and pricing to its biggest competitors. You can also start your free trial right away by clicking the button below.

Sign up for Apple Music

What is Apple Music?

What is Apple Music - logo image

Apple Music is a premium music streaming service with more than 50 million songs available to stream from the cloud. It also hosts several free internet radio stations broadcasting 24 hours a day in over 160 countries around the world. It launched in 2015 after Apple’s acquisition of Beats, replacing the company’s budding Beats Music service.

Billed as a one-stop-shop for all your music streaming needs, the service allows both access to an extensive library of songs as well as your own personal library of purchased music from iTunes via iCloud integration. When iTunes was phased out with the release of macOS Catalina in mid-2019, Apple Music became the default music app on all Apple devices.

Although it initially received mixed reviews for an unintuitive UI, over the years Apple Music has grown into a major player in the music streaming wars. Now that it has been incorporated into Apple One alongside Apple TV Plus and others, it’s set to play an even bigger part in Apple’s wider subscription service strategy.

What is Apple Music for Artists?

Apple Music’s relationship to artists started off shaky when it announced it wouldn’t pay royalties for music played during a user’s free trial period, but things quickly improved after that decision was reversed. Now, thanks to Apple Music for Artists, musicians can tap into Apple’s data and see how their music is performing around the world.

The musician-focused service allows you to see listener demographics, trend reports, milestones, most Shazamed songs, and more. It can be a powerful tool to figure out where to tour or promote your music, and you can upload a custom artist photo that fans will see when they listen to your music.

To create an account and start tracking your music’s performance, click the button below.

Check out Apple Music for Artists

How does Apple Music work?

Apple Music home page

Credit: Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Apple Music is much easier to use now than it was when it first launched in 2015. If you are using an iOS or Mac device, you already have it installed and it’s probably set as the default music app. If you’re on Android you can download the app from the Play Store, but on Windows you’ll have to stick to the old iTunes experience.

Once you have it installed, open it up and you’ll be greeted by four main sections: Library, For You, Browse, and Radio. Each one has tiles filled with content to listen to right away. On iOS there’s an extra search icon at the bottom right, whereas on Android it’s located in the upper part of the screen.

Library is fairly self-explanatory, and it contains both your personal music library (both local and on iCloud Music) as well as artists and songs you’ve saved on the platform. This is also where you’ll find your saved and custom playlists.

The For You section is where you’ll go to discover new music. Apple Music analyzes what you’ve been listening to and liked/disliked, then recommends similar music using complex algorithms. Browse is another way to find new music, but it relies on Top 100 lists, new releases, and featured playlists rather than your listening history.

Finally, the Radio section is one of the service’s most popular and unique features. There are several 24-hour internet radio programs with a live DJ broadcasting around the world, and you can hop into the live stream or listen to previous recordings. There’s also a schedule of upcoming live content so you never miss your favorite programming.

Is Apple Music worth it?

Apple Music now playing contextual settings

Credit: Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

While there’s certainly no shortage of great options for streaming music, Apple Music is more than worth consideration. It offers a larger selection of music than most of its competitors with 60 million songs, and comes in at roughly the same price.

If you’re already hooked into the Apple ecosystem with your library synced up in iTunes, it really is a no brainer to try out Apple Music. You can add up to 100,000 songs to the app’s streaming library via iCloud Music Library. The ability to have all of your purchased music and an extensive streaming library is one place is hugely convenient for music lovers.

Listening to your own music on Apple Music is completely free, as are the 24-hour internet radio stations. This can be a great way to discover new music, although be warned that it will chew through data if you’re not connected to WiFi.

A better way to discover new music is with the subscriber-only For You section, although it’s admittedly a hair behind Spotify and YouTube Music’s algorithms. Still, the recommendations can be solid if you’re not looking for anything too outside of the mainstream.

The streaming quality is also good, but if you’re a true audiofile you might want to consider other options. Tidal, Amazon Music HD, and Deezer are currently the leaders for sound quality, but the tradeoff is fewer features and a lack of integration with a wider ecosystem.

How much is Apple Music a month?

Apple Music notification shade

Credit: Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

As mentioned earlier, Apple Music is priced very similarly to other streaming services at $9.99 for the individual plan. This is the same as Spotify and YouTube Music, as well as the lower-res plans for Tidal and Deezer. If you’re currently studying, you can also take advantage of the student discount at $4.99 a month for up to four years.

Sharing a single subscription for a full family is virtually impossible, which is where the family plan comes in at $14.99 a month. It allows access for up to six users, which should cover even large families.

Apple Music pricing

  • Individual: $9.99/mo
  • Family plan: $14.99/mo
  • Student: $4.99/mo

How to get free Apple Music access

iPhone Apple Music Logo

The good news for new subscribers is that it isn’t too difficult to get Apple Music for free. For starters, there’s a generous 3-month free trial for the paid service, which is more than enough time to decide whether or not the $10 a month is worth it for you.

The other way to get Apple Music for free is to simply download the app. The basic service, which includes several internet radio stations and access to your local music files, is completely free. Note that you may need to use a cable to transfer your music to your device, and the process is easier with a paid subscription.

If you have an iOS device, you should already have the app installed. For Android users, click the button below to download the app and start your free trial.

Download Apple Music

Apple Music alternatives

Apple Music is far from the first music streaming service on the block. In fact, it was the rise of music streaming services like Spotify over one-time purchases that prompted Apple to shift away from the old iTunes model in the first place.

Below we’ve listed a few of the main players in the music streaming space and how they stack up against Apple’s streaming service.

Apple Music vs Spotify

A picture of Apple Music vs Spotify on a OnePlus 7 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S10e, respectively.

Credit: Lily Katz / Android Authority

Without a doubt, Spotify is the biggest name in music streaming, getting an early lead and building an unbeatable subscriber base. A big part of this is Spotify’s ad-supported free plan. Although Apple Music’s radio programs are free, it simply doesn’t offer anything that can compete with so much free music.

Learn more: Apple Music vs Spotify: The battle between the two music streaming giants

Spotify has also built up a feature set that Apple’s offering can’t yet match, like collaborative playlists and the ability to interact with your friends beyond sharing a playlist. Spotify also offers slightly better audio quality, although it still likely won’t satisfy the needs of audiophiles, who should look to the likes of Tidal HiFi and other more expensive streaming options.

Pricing is virtually identical between Apple Music and Spotify, and both have extensive streaming libraries. Spotify’s inclusion of podcasts may push it into the lead here, but really both are excellent options. Naturally, Apple Music becomes a better choice if you’re already invested in Apple’s ecosystem, with excellent savings available with an Apple One subscription.

Try Spotify

Apple Music vs YouTube Music

YouTube Music vs Apple Music

YouTube Music replaces Google Play Music as Google’s premier music streaming service, and it’s an excellent alternative for Android users. Like Spotify, it offers a free ad-supported tier for all music, while Apple Music sticks to premium paid subscriptions.

Read also: YouTube Music vs YouTube Premium vs YouTube Music Premium explained!

As for paid subscriptions, pricing is virtually identical for the three platforms. However, YouTube Music is included in a YouTube Premium subscription, which also eliminates ads on YouTube videos for $12 a month. This is a great deal if you watch a lot of YouTube videos and can’t stand advertising interruptions.

But where YouTube Music really shines is when you want to listen to obscure music. No other service has the same variety of remixes, mixtapes, and older songs. It also has the uncanny ability to recommend songs that no one has heard of but somehow fit your musical taste perfectly.

Try YouTube Music

Other FAQ

Q: How do you play Apple Music on Alexa devices?
A: First, you need to link Apple Music to Alexa in the settings menu of the official Alexa App. Once you’ve done that, you can simply say “Alexa, play (song) on Apple Music.” You can also select it as the default music player so you don’t have to say the name of the service every time you want to listen.

Q: Does Apple Music have podcasts?
A: No, there are no podcasts on the service. When iTunes was officially split into different services in 2019, all podcasts went to the Apple Podcasts app.

Q: How do I cancel Apple Music?
A: How you cancel your subscription depends on the device you’re currently using. There isn’t a way to cancel on the web, but here are the basic instructions for each:

  • iOS: Settings app > (your name) > Subscriptions.
  • Mac: App Store > (your name) > View Information > Manage (under subscriptions). 
  • Android: Apple Music app > For You tab > Settings (upper right) > Account > Manage Membership.
  • Windows: iTunes > Account menu (top of screen) > View My Account > Manage (under subscriptions).

Q: Does Google Home support Apple Music?
A: No, there is currently no support on Google Home. However, you can still access the platform on most Google Home devices by connecting via Bluetooth. 

Q: Does Apple Music show lyrics?
A: Yes! Lyrics are displayed in an easy to read manner that syncs up with the music. Just look for an icon that looks like a quotation mark inside a chat bubble in the app.

Q: How much data does Apple Music use?
A: Apple Music uses approximately 40MB per hour of streaming. If you are worried about data caps, you can disable cellular streaming in the app settings.

Q: Can I transfer a Spotify playlist to Apple Music?
A: There isn’t a native way to transfer playlists between services, but you can do it with third party apps like SongShift.

Q: How do I follow someone on Apple Music?
A: In the app, switch to the For You tab and tap your photo in the upper right. Then tap Find More Friends and select the people you want to follow from your contacts. You can also adjust what other people can see of your profile (listening history, playlists, etc.) within the settings menu.

Learn more about other music streaming apps:

  • 10 best music streaming apps and music streaming services
  • I ditched Google Play Music for my own Plex server: The good and the bad
  • What is Spotify: Everything you need to know