August 17, 2015 Meeting: Derek Burrows, Facilitator
NOTE – If you’d like to view a printable version of these notes, click here.
Derek spent the majority of the session talking about (and answering questions about) Apple Music. This FAQ article by iMore.com was the starting point for the discussion and provides a full list of things to do with Apple Music.
Apple Music FAQ: Everything you need to know
Apple Music is here. We’ve got the beats and the deets.
On Tuesday, June 30, Apple unleashed Apple Music in all its glory — Beats 1 radio, a redesigned music app, and more custom playlists than you can shake a stick at. Here’s what Apple Music is, what it’s not, how it compares to other services, and what you’ll be able to find on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or PC.
Basics and membership
What is Apple Music?
Apple Music is, to quote the company, “All the ways you love music. All in one place.”
So… in non-marketing lingo, Apple is attempting to put together a service that combines your purchased music library and ripped tracks with the power of its Apple Music streaming catalog.
From there, you can mix-and-match your songs with their songs in online or offline playlists, listen to specific artists, or rock out to hand-built groupings of music from Apple’s music editors.
Apple Music also encompasses a 24/7 radio station that will be available for anyone to listen to; iTunes Radio-like custom radio stations; and a social media stream for musicians called Connect.
Why is Apple making a streaming music service in the first place?
More and more people are listening to streaming music, and for good reason: When you can listen to just about any artist, genre, and song you set your heart on, it’s a lot more enticing than playing the same thousand songs you own in your library.
By adding a streaming component to its service, Apple can unify the music you already own with its gigantic catalog—described as “tens of millions” during WWDC–and let you mix your purchased or uploaded music together with your streamed songs, whether or not you have them locally stored on your device.
It’s sort of what iTunes Match does now—sticking your personal library in the cloud—but when you add in Apple’s massive streaming library, you have quite a few songs to pick from.
On top of that, Apple thinks it can help you find great new music to either stream or purchase with tailored recommendations, hand-built playlists, and its new Beats 1 radio station. It’s a gamble, but given Apple’s background in music, it’s one the company wants to take.
Do I have to pay for Apple Music?
Yes, but not at first: The company will be offering a free three-month trial for everyone, whether you own an iPhone, iPad, iPod, Mac, or PC.
Once those three months are up, you’ll have to pay $9.99/mo to continue taking advantage of all that Apple Music has to offer.
Do those three free months start on June 30, or can I start them anytime?
You start your free trial whenever you sign up, whether that’s June 30 or December 30.
There’s a family plan, too, right?
Yup! If you have a few people in your house who love streaming, just sign up for the $14.99/mo family plan and up to six people in your family can jam out to Apple Music. You don’t even use the same Apple ID for each device, either: You just have to turn on iCloud Family Sharing.
What was that thing with Taylor Swift? Is Apple not paying artists?
So here’s the deal: When an artist’s music is streamed, they’re paid a certain monetary percentage per-play. Originally, Apple planned not to pay artists—technically record labels, who then pay artists and other rights holders—during the three-month-free-trial period, but pay a higher premium after the trial ended to make up for this.
Several labels and artists, Taylor Swift included, weren’t too happy with this proposal, and as a result, Apple changed its tune: The company will now pay a certain percentage during the free trial and pay the higher premium when the trial is over. It pays to be Taylor Swift!
What do I get when I sign up for Apple Music?
For the first three months after signup, everyone will get all the features of Apple Music. After that initial trial, however, here’s how it breaks down.
If you don’t have a paid subscription with Apple Music, you’ll be able to listen to any music you’ve purchased, ripped, or uploaded to your device. (If you pay $24.99/year for iTunes Match, you’ll be able to listen to any music you’ve uploaded to iCloud, regardless of whether it’s on your device or not.) You’ll also be able to listen to Beats 1 radio, view and follow an artist’s Connect stream, and listen to ad-supported Apple Music radio stations (which replaces the current iTunes Radio interface)—though you’ll only have limited song skips available.
With a paid subscription (or a free three-month trial), you get all of the above plus:
unlimited skips for Apple Music radio stations
the ability to like, comment, play, and save Connect content
unlimited listening to the entire Apple Music catalog
the ability to add Apple Music songs to your library and listen offline
your entire purchased and ripped library, uploaded to iCloud
access to Apple Music’s hand-curated recommendations and playlists
What happens if I decide not to subscribe after the three month trial?
Any streaming music you’ve added to your library from the Apple Music catalog will no longer be playable; you’ll stop having access to Connect content; you’ll be skip-limited when listening to Apple Music radio stations; and unless you have iTunes Match enabled, you won’t be able to stream your previously purchased and uploaded music to your devices, and any songs from your Mac’s library that you’ve downloaded to other devices will be removed. (Your Mac’s original iTunes library remains as-is.)
What devices can I use to listen to Apple Music?
Apple Music is available on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch running iOS 8.4 or later; it’s also available on Apple Watch 1.0.1 or later; and on Macs and PCs running iTunes. You’ll get Android and Apple TV access later this fall.
What about the other new iPods that just got released?
Sadly, only the iPod touch is compatible with Apple Music; the new iPod nano and iPod shuffle are limited to tracks you own. We’re hoping for a software update from Apple to address this, but it’s not likely.
Wait… Android? Really?
Really. Beats Music had an Android app, after all. And if Apple really wants to offer all your music in one place, it needs the flexibility to do so on multiple platforms.
Why isn’t there an Apple TV update for Apple Music yet? Why do I have to wait? Waiting stinks!
I feel you. But you can always AirPlay your Apple Music while you wait, and who knows! Maybe we’re waiting for an all-new Apple TV and interface. Waiting doesn’t stink so much if you get something awesome in return, does it?
How does Apple Music work on the Apple Watch?
Basically, you can sync any music from your Apple Music library to your Apple Watch like you would a normal playlist. You don’t have to have your iPhone nearby to play it, as it’s stored locally on your Apple Watch.
I already use Pandora/Spotify/Google Music/Tidal/etc. Why would I use Apple Music instead?
Apple Music’s biggest asset is its integration: You don’t have to download extra software. You use your Apple ID to pay for it. And it can tap into your iTunes library, allowing you to listen to any of those songs while you’re on the go—even if you don’t have them downloaded to your device.
Pandora is cheaper, but limited to algorithmically-generated radio stations. Google, Tidal, and Spotify are on par price-wise, but can’t upload and stream your iTunes library with the same ease as Apple, and they all rely more on algorithms. Music, in contrast, will have the old custom-curated playlist magic Beats Music brought to its customers as well as custom-curated Apple Music radio stations.
I can’t advise you for-sure what service to use until I’ve spent some time with Apple Music and the other services, but for now, I’d give Apple Music a shot if any of the following are true for you:
You want your iTunes collection easily side-by-side with your streaming music
You don’t want to download an app and pay for a third-party service
You loved Beats Music’s playlists
You want an affordable family plan
And hey: it’s free for your first three months. Might as well give it a try.
How do I get Apple Music, exactly?
Download the iOS 8.4 update from Settings > General > Software Update, then open the Music app! You’ll also be able to use Apple Music on your Mac once the iTunes update is live.
I’m on the iOS 9 beta, will I be able to get it?
Yup! As of iOS 9 beta 3 (and the iOS 9 public beta), Apple Music is available on your devices.
Which countries are getting Apple Music at launch?
Apple said during WWDC that over 100 countries would be getting Apple Music; here’s the company’s current list of who can listen.
I’m a Beats subscriber—what happens to Beats Music?
Currently? Nothing. You can switch your Beats account over to Apple Music and it’ll transfer all your saved library content and starred playlists; once you move, your Beats subscription will be cancelled and you’ll be an Apple Music member, billed via your Apple ID.
In an interview with The Loop, Apple executive Eddy Cue noted that “Beats Music will continue to work for a few months while the migration happens,” so I suppose you could keep on using Beats Music for the time being. That said, the service’s staff is now working on Apple Music full-time; the only reason you’d probably want to keep using Beats is until Sonos comes out with Apple Music support.
Of course, you can also keep using your Beats subscription and sign up for a separate Apple Music subscription/free trial, but it means you’d be juggling several services at once—and you wouldn’t get to transfer your playlists and the like from Beats over to Apple Music.
The Beats Music website has a few more FAQs, if you want more information.
What does the new Music app on iOS look like?
It puts Apple Music front and center, offering five categories: For You, New, Radio, Connect, and My Music.
For You showcases your playlists along with any suggested music and playlists Apple Music thinks you might like. New highlights the latest and greatest from artists you’ve told Apple Music that you enjoy. Radio is where you can find Beats 1, along with Apple’s hand-built Music radio (née iTunes Radio) stations. Connect collects the social feeds of your favorite artists, and it’s where they can post exclusive videos, songs, lyrics, photos, and more.
My Music is the tab for your music library—any music you’ve purchased, uploaded, or transferred from Apple Music—and it contains all your songs; you can organize this by Artists, Albums, Songs, Music Videos, Genres, Composers, and Compilations.
Along the top bar of the app, there’s an icon to access your Music/iTunes account, two tabs that let you switch between your Library and Playlists, and a search icon.
What about iTunes for the Mac and PC?
It largely resembles iTunes 12, with some new top-tab categories. My Music, Playlists, and the iTunes Store tabs remain the same; replacing Match and Radio are the four new tabs found on iOS: For You, New, Radio, and Connect.
Apple’s not going to automatically put music in my music library, right?
Nope, we’re not getting another U2 debacle: Any music that shows up in your library should be music that you put there. You may see suggested playlists and songs for you in the other tabs, however, if you’ve subscribed to Apple Music.
So my music lives next to the streaming service?
Next to, yes, but also integrated with. Your current music collection now exists in iCloud Music Library, accessible on any of your devices. You can also add anything from the Apple Music collection to that library. Of course, if you never want to download songs from Apple Music’s streaming catalog, you have that option—but it would make having the service pretty silly.
I heard Apple Music’s tracks are DRM-locked?
Yes: Any song from the Apple Music catalog has DRM (digital rights management) applied to it, which is how the company makes sure you don’t sign up for a streaming service, download a bunch of songs for offline listening, then cancel and run away with that music. So you can play any song from the Apple Music catalog on your devices, but you can’t burn it to a CD or play it in, say, Spotify’s online player. Makes sense enough, and it’s similar to the DRM used by every other major streaming service.
Where it gets tricky is when it comes to streaming your Mac’s music library. Apple Music lets you upload your Mac’s library to iCloud Music Library, where you can then stream and download songs to any of your other devices (up to 10). To keep you from incurring massive data bills, Apple tries to “match” the songs it can from your Mac’s library with songs from its catalog, rather than upload all your tracks to iCloud; as such, any matched song will download to another device as an high-quality Apple Music catalog song—and thus, have DRM.
This is different from Apple’s similar iTunes Match service, which provides the same sort of matching service but matches to the iTunes Store catalog, which is DRM-free.
As a result, if you cancel your Apple Music subscription, any matched tracks you download to another device will be rendered inoperative. (If you have both Match and Music, Match’s iTunes Store catalog will take priority and you shouldn’t have to worry about this.) Your Mac’s original library will remain as-is—Apple Music will never replace those songs with DRM-laden files unless you specifically delete the track and redownload it.
But [insert site here] told me Apple DRM-locks the music on my Mac!
That website is wrong. The only thing Apple DRM-locks is their Apple Music catalog. If you download matched tracks from that catalog on another device, those tracks—and those tracks alone—will be DRM-locked. (Or if you delete your Mac’s local copy of your music and try to redownload it, which I highly do not recommend.) For more info and a full breakdown of Apple’s DRM service:
I don’t want DRM on my matched songs! Is iTunes Match going away?
Nope, iTunes Match lives on, and you can subscribe to both it and Apple Music if you want to keep your matched music DRM-free. (Subscription tracks will remain DRM-locked. If you really want that track DRM-free, you’ll have to buy it.)
If you don’t care about DRM, why would you subscribe to iTunes Match?
If you’re an Apple Music subscriber, you don’t really need to—the service’s iCloud Music Library takes care of matching and uploading for you.
If you don’t subscribe to Apple Music, however, you’ll still need iTunes Match to store your music in iCloud if you want to stream your Mac’s library to your other devices.
Why would you choose iTunes Match rather than just subscribe to Apple Music? Math, my friends: iTunes Match is just $24.99/year, while an Apple Music subscription runs you $119.98/year. If streaming all of Apple’s music collection doesn’t appeal to you, but having on-the-go access to your full music library does, iTunes Match appears to be a good alternate option.
What about the iTunes Match 25,000 song limit, is that going to change for Apple Music and iTunes Match?
Not right away, but Apple’s Eddy Cue did tweet saying the company was working to increase it to 100,000 songs for iOS 9, which is scheduled for release this fall.
Can I mix and match my songs with the Apple Music collection?
Absolutely: Apple has said you’ll be able to build playlists with both your music and the Apple Music collection, and add Apple Music songs to your library.
What does Apple Music mean for iTunes Radio and the iTunes Store?
iTunes Radio is dead. RIP. In its place, you’ll find Beats 1 (which is live and streaming 24/7), and Apple Music radio stations (which, unlike iTunes Radio stations, are hand-built rather than algorithmically created), along with the option to create your own custom Apple Music radio station.
The iTunes Store is very much alive, though: Just because you can stream music doesn’t mean Apple expects you never to buy a song again in your life. Sometimes, you just want to own an album or song, and iTunes will be there for you.
What’s the streaming bitrate?
Apple Music files are sent to your device at 256kbps AAC, similar to the iTunes Match service. According to Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue, the actual bitrate varies depending whether you’re on Wi-Fi or cellular, likely to save on your monthly data bill. This is done automatically; there’s no preference pane to prefer a higher bit-rate over cellular currently, though there will be one in iOS 9.
Can I listen offline?
Yup! Offline listening to both songs and playlists is one of the perks of Apple Music. (It’s also why any songs from the streaming catalog are DRM-locked.)
Can I burn Apple Music songs to a CD?
Nope: That would be stealing. They’re not tracks you own, even if you download them for offline use; they’re protected .m4p files.
Is Apple Music getting any exclusive content I won’t be able to hear elsewhere?
We don’t doubt it! So far, we’ve only heard about exclusives from Pharrell Williams—Apple Music will debut his new track, Freedom, on June 30. Apple Music will also have Taylor Swift’s 1989 available for streaming, though that isn’t an exclusive coup—Swift is open to bringing her hit album to other services.
Beats 1, however, will have all sorts of special and exclusive shows: You’ll be able to hear radio spots from Jaden Smith, St. Vincent, Pharrell, and Dr. Dre, as well as exclusive interviews from musicians like Eminem.
How do I tell Apple Music what I like to listen to?
When you first set up Apple Music after upgrading, it’ll ask you to highlight genres and artists that you like by tapping on gigantic bubbles—Beats Music subscribers may be familiar with this UI, as it’s carried over from the old Beats service. From there, it’s an ever-evolving process where the service pays attention to what you favorite and listen to and adjusts accordingly; you can also tap and hold on the Favorite icon while listening to a song to ask Apple Music to play more like the current song, or less of that taste and genre.
What about new music?
The New tab of the Music app is dedicated to finding the best new music specifically for you—it’s not just a top ten list or Billboard chart. Apple Music looks at what you like and curates accordingly, highlighting new songs, albums, and artists it thinks you’ll love.
Tell me more about curated playlists?
These were Beats Music’s big selling point, and I’m glad they’ve been brought over to Apple Music. Curated playlists are hand-built by Apple’s Music Editors, artists, and what Apple is calling “Curators”; they’re targeted specifically to your genre tastes, so if you like soundtracks, for example, you may get “The Musical Dialogue of Gilmore Girls.”
Apple has a host of editors on-hand who are constantly making new playlists, but they’ve also partnered with websites, magazines, and “tastemakers” for their Curators program: Expect to see song recommendations from Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Q Magazine, DJ Mag, Shazam, Mojo, The Grand Ole Opry, XXL Magazine, and more.
Is there a way to share what I’m listening to?
You bet. Apple is integrating Twitter, Facebook, and Messages into Apple Music, so you can share playlists, albums, and videos with your friends.
How do I search Apple Music?
There are two primary ways to search Apple Music: the dynamic search field, and Siri.
How does Apple Music’s dynamic search engine work?
When you tap the search icon at the top of the app, you can type in just about anything you’re looking for—artist, song, genre, playlist title—and Apple Music will try and find it for you. It’ll also remember what you’ve searched for recently, and display trending music searches from other Apple Music members.
You’ll also be able to filter between searching through Apple Music’s catalog and the songs that you’ve added to your library.
What about Siri? Has it gotten more intelligent about music?
Has it ever! Siri’s music-playing and finding abilities will improve massively with the Apple Music software update: You’ll be able to ask it to do things like “Play the top songs from 1980” and it’ll make a playlist of the chart-toppers from that year, for instance. Or, while listening to a song, you can say “Play more songs like this,” and it’ll generate a playlist for you on the spot. You can also tell it to queue up a song: “After this song, play Thru the Eyes of Ruby.” And if you like something you’ve heard on Apple Music, you can ask Siri “Add this song to my library.”
I have Sonos, how can I listen to Apple Music and Beats 1?
Indirectly, but only for now. Both Apple and Sonos have said they’re working to get Apple Music support built-into Sonos by the end of the year. In the meantime, you’ll need to use a workaround:
What happened to Home Sharing on iOS? Is it really gone?
Nope! Just temporarily. Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of internet services, said on Twitter that Apple was working to get Home Sharing [back] in iOS 9, and it’s in the most recent iOS 9 public beta.
Is Apple’s Radio service replacing iTunes Radio?
Yep: Bye bye, iTunes Radio. But Beats 1 aside, Apple Music’s radio sounds to be everything the old iTunes service was, but better: Apple’s radio stations are partially custom-programmed by humans, now, instead of being built by algorithms. You can also create a new algorithmic station from one of your songs.
Beats 1 is the new whole-cloth section of Apple’s radio initiative: It’s a 24/7 station that plays music along with exclusive interviews, special celebrity programs, debut singles, and more.