Apple Music is a subscription-based music streaming service, like Spotify, offering access to over 60 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 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.
Apple Music: The basics
Apple Music launched in 2015, following Apple’s acquisition of Beats Electronics in 2014 that included the Beats Music subscription-based streaming service, which Apple discontinued.
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, 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 and integration with the Siri assistant on iOS devices.
Apple Music: How much does it cost?
Apple Music is free for three months when you sign up to the free trial, after which there are three plans available.
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. The final plan is the University Student plan, which costs £4.99 or $4.99 per month.
Apple Music: 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 radio and listen to ad-supported Apple radio 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’ll also be able to stream songs uploaded to iCloud, receive curated recommendations and you’ll be able to save songs to your library for offline listening.
Apple Music: Which devices support it?
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 speaker supports 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.
Apple Music: How does it 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.
Apple Music: Is it available in your country?
Apple Music is available in more than 100 countries – check out the full list.
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 For You 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:
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 of My Music under Playlists, Artists, Albums or Songs. This page is customisable.
For You: 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 For You screen loaded with suggestions like genre-specific playlists, albums, guest playlists made by artists, etc.
Browse: An editorially-curated selection of music from across the service, making it a lot like the iTunes homepage. This section also highlights hot playlists, tracks and albums, top songs, new releases, etc. You can view these New curations by genre too.
Radio: A home for Apple Music 1, the 24/7, globally-broadcasted radio station. You will see an option to listen to Beats 1 at the very top of the section. Below that, you’ll see Pandora-like stations as well as iTunes Radio’s old channels.
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.
Apple Music: How does it work?
There are several features, controls, and options baked into Apple Music. Here are a few key ones worth remembering:
Fave artists: Once you sign up for Apple Music, you will be brought to a screen that lets you choose artists and genres you like. Tap once on a genre bubble that you like, or twice on genre bubbles that you love. Press and hold in the upper-left corner of genre bubbles you don’t like to remove them. Ensure you select at least three, then tap Next, and select artists in the same way you selected genres. If you don’t see any artists that you like, tap Load More Artists. Once you’ve selected at least three artists, tap Done.
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 music, start a station, or see the lyrics. Tap the down button or swipe down to exit.
Use Siri: You can ask Siri to “play the top songs from 2019”, “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.
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 “My Music” option at the top.
Build library: Search for an artist, such as Drake, then pick a song, and tap the “+” button to add it to your library. Once added, the “+” will turn into a download icon so you can download it for offline listening.
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 My Music 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 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 (accessed by swiping right to left) to listen immediately. 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 For You tab. Tap it to access account-related settings, such as see what your friends are listening to, upgrade your subscription and manage notifications.
Apple Music: What are some tips and tricks?
Check out Pocket-lint’s round-up of Apple Music tips and tricks worth knowing.
Apple Music: Are there any alternatives?
The obvious alternatives include: Spotify, YouTube Music, Amazon Music Unlimited 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 for each: