Just when you thought iTunes was dead or dying, Apple has unveiled its Apple Music platform, which comes with a 24/7 global radio station called Beats 1, infinite personalisation, Siri’s intelligence, and it will even come to Android.
Yes, that’s right, Android. Echoing the same broad-minded approach that made iTunes a success beyond Apple’s boundaries by being playable on the PC back in the early 2000s, the branch into Android is a sign that Apple wants to ignite the streaming wars and win.
It emerged earlier today that Apple is pinning its hopes on capturing more than 100m users for Apple Music in a move that would sideline players like Spotify.
“We love music. It’s part of our culture, our rich history of change,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook at WWDC.
Last year, Apple bought Beats for US$3bn and brought Jimmy Iovine and Dr Dre into the fold as executives.
Iovine recalled how in 2003 the music industry was “a great ball of confusion and this great invader from the North came along … technology”.
Iovine said that iTunes, as demonstrated to him by the late Steve Jobs, proved to him how technology and art can work together.
“It’s 2015 and music is a fragmented mess. I reached out and said: ‘guys, can we build a bigger and better ecosystem with the elegance and simplicity that only Apple can do’?
“I’m so proud to say that Apple Music will allow you to stream, anytime and on-demand, with hand-picked playlist recommendations of all that’s great in music.”
Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor said the new Apple Music service will include handpicked music experts who will help people discover new music by applying the human touch.
New adventures in radio
“It will also feature the first, live, worldwide, 24/7 radio station that will broadcast from three cities worldwide and which plays music, not based on genre or research, but music that is great and feels great.”
Beats 1 is a 24-hour listening experience led by influential DJs Zane Lowe in Los Angeles, Ebro Darden in New York and Julie Adenuga in London.
He said Apple Music will also come with a feature called Connect, a way for new and unsigned artists to get their music in front of public audiences.
Apple’s senior vice president of internet software, Eddy Cue, cycled through some of the new features, including the ability to pull together playlists by simply nominating two or three favourite artists.
He also showed how it was possible to search for music through Siri in iOS 9 by simply asking what was the top played song of 1982, for example. Ask Siri to, “Play me the best songs from 1994”, “Play the best FKA twigs song”, or “What was the number one song in February 2011?”
Tim Cook returned to the stage to reveal that Apple Music will be released to 100 countries on 30 June.
He added that a new version of iTunes for Mac and Android will also be coming out in the autumn.
The new Apple Music platform will cost US$9.99 per month per user but US$14.99 for families.
A final surprise came with the news that the new music platform will be free for the first three months.