Curious about Apple Music? We've got the beats and the deets.
Updated April 2017: We're putting together a massive streaming music roundup, and updating our FAQs accordingly.
Apple Music is Apple's massive music service, comprising a subscription music catalog, iCloud Music Library syncing across your devices, Beats 1 live and algorithmic radio, customized playlists, and more artist exclusives than you can shake a stick at.
Here's what Apple Music is, what it's not, and how you can access it on your iPhone, iPad, Android, 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."
In non-marketing lingo, Apple Music is built around two major components: iCloud Music Library, which combines your purchased music library and ripped tracks in one place; and the Apple Music streaming catalog, where you can find more than 10 million tracks from artists around the world.
These two parts live side by side in the Music app: You can keep each separate by only streaming the Apple Music catalog, or you can add streaming songs to your offline Music library, where they can be mixed into playlists (offline or publicly shareable) or shuffled amongst the rest of your music.
Apple Music also offers a massive recommendation and browsing area for its streaming catalog: As you listen to songs in the Music app, Apple collects data about your tastes and drops daily custom-curated playlists in the app for you to listen to, along with a weekly algorithmic "New Music" mix that suggests songs and artists you might like. You can also poke around the entire streaming catalog's array of new music, curated playlists, music videos, and more.
Lastly, Apple Music includes a live, 24/7 radio station called Beats 1: It's only available to paying subscribers and features three main DJs along with a panoply of specialty shows from artists like Dr Dre, Elton John, Ryan Adams, Frank Ocean, Major Lazer, and Anna Lunoe.
If you're not into what Beats 1 is playing, you can always rely on one of Apple Music's many algorithmic radio stations, which offer various genres and styles along with news organizations like CBS, NPR, and ESPN.
Why did Apple make a streaming music service?
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 from your personal library.
By adding a streaming component to its service, Apple can unify the music you already own with its gigantic catalog 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.
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 Beats 1 radio station.
Do I have to pay for Apple Music?
Yes, but not at first: The company offers a free three-month trial for everyone when they first subscribe, whether you own an iPhone, iPad, iPod, Mac, Android, 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.
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 need to use the same Apple ID for each device, either: You just have to turn on iCloud Family Sharing.
- How to sign up and activate an Apple Music family plan
- Can't get Family Sharing in Apple Music to work? Here's the fix!
- How to switch between Apple Music Individual and Family plans
Is there a student plan?
Yes! Apple is offering students in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Brazil, and New Zealand whose schools can be authenticated by third-party service Unidays a $4.99/month discounted membership option.
This membership is good for the length of your student tenure or four consecutive years, whichever comes first. You can find more information about student plans on Apple's website.
How does Apple pay artists when a track is streamed?
When an artist's music is streamed, they're paid a certain monetary percentage per-play. Apple currently pays a certain percentage during a free trial and pays a higher premium when the trial is over.
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, you're asked to either sign up for Apple Music or lose access.
With a paid subscription (or a free three-month trial), you'll be able to listen to any music you've purchased, ripped, or uploaded to your device, plus:
- your entire purchased and ripped library will be matched to the iTunes catalog and uploaded to iCloud Music Library for DRM-free access on all your devices
- unlimited listening to the entire Apple Music catalog
- access to Apple Music's hand-curated recommendations and playlists
- the ability to add Apple Music songs to your library and listen offline
- full access to Beats 1 radio
- access to Apple Music's algorithmic radio stations
- the ability to like, comment, play, and save any custom artist content
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, and you'll no longer be able to search through the streaming catalog or play custom playlists. (You have thirty days to reinstate your membership if you want to restore these tracks.) You'll also stop having access to Beats 1, Apple Music algorithmic radio, and custom artist content.
Finally, unless you switch to the stand-alone iTunes Match service, you won't be able to stream your previously purchased and ripped music to your other devices. (Any songs you own that you've downloaded to other devices will remain as-is, however — they won't disappear.)
How do I unsubscribe?
You can keep your Apple Music subscription from renewing by following these instructions:
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; on Macs and PCs running iTunes; on Android; and on the Apple TV.
Wait... Android? Really?
Really. Apple wants to offer all your music in one place, so it needs the flexibility to do so on multiple platforms.
What about listening on an iPod?
Sadly, only the aging iPod touch is compatible with Apple Music; the new iPod nano and iPod shuffle are limited to tracks you own.
How does Apple Music work on the Apple Watch?
You can sync any music from your Apple Music collection 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; if you unsubscribe from Apple Music, however, the next time your Apple Watch connects to the internet, any Apple Music songs within that playlist will disappear.
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, and if you have a Mac, iPhone, or Apple TV, you can use Siri to control it. 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.
|Spotify||Apple Music||Google Play Music||Amazon Prime Music||Pandora|
|Free trial period||30 days||3 months||30 days||30 days (with Prime membership)||30 days for Premium, 7 days for Plus|
|Price||$9.99/month ($14.99 for family up to 6 people)||$9.99/month ($14.99 for family up to 6 people)||$9.99 ($14.99 for family up to 6 people)||Comes with Prime membership ($99/year), $7.99/month for Unlimited||Pandora Premium: $4.99/month, $54.89/year Pandora Plus: $9.99/month, $109.89/year|
|Library size||~ 30 million songs||~ 40 million songs||~ 40 million songs||~ 2 million (may differ depending on location), ~ 40 million (Unlimited)||~ 40 million|
|Number of countries supported||Over 60||Over 110||Over 60||See Amazon||Australia, New Zealand, U.S.A.|
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 like Siri's music integration
- You don't want to download an app and pay for a third-party service
- You love custom-built mixtapes
- 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?
On your iPhone or iPad, make sure you're running iOS 8.4 or later, then open the Music app. You can also use Apple Music on your Mac via iTunes using OS X El Capitan or later, or on Apple TV 9.2 or later.
Which countries can listen to Apple Music?
Over 100 countries can currently groove to Apple Music; here's the company's current list of who can listen.
What does Apple Music look like in the Music app on iOS?
The Music app on iOS showcases five tabs along the bottom of its screen, with three of them dedicated to Apple Music: For You, Browse, and Radio. Your Library lives to the left of those tabs; on the Mac, you get a link to the iTunes Store, while iPhone and iPad users will have a tab for search.
Library provides an easy-to-tap list for any playlists, artists, albums, songs, Home Sharing libraries, and downloaded tracks you've both synced to your iPhone or iPad along with any Apple Music content you've added.
For You offers several side-scrollable sections tailored to your taste. At the top, users will be presented with New Music and Favorites Mixes, which are updated Fridays and Wednesdays, respectively.
Below that are six daily playlist recommendations, a recently played section that tracks playlists you may have enjoyed but not saved, a grouping of playlists you listen to frequently, daily album recommendations, playlists spotlighting specific artists, new release recommendations, and an assortment of updated behind-the-scenes information from artists you like.
Browse highlights new artist releases along with offering quick access to the entire Apple Music catalog and playlist rotation. You can scan through the week's new albums or look at specific genres; browse playlists; view top charts; play video; and more.
Radio is where you can find Beats 1 and its various partner stations, along with Apple Music's algorithmic radio stations.
Search does what it says on the tin: You can use this tab to either search the Apple Music catalog or your own library.
What about on iTunes for the Mac and PC?
Like with the Music app, you'll see the same top-tab categories: Library, For You, Browse, Radio, and Store. Clicking on the drop-down arrow next to Library will let you switch through several different organizations of your Library, including playlist view.
Apple's not going to automatically put music in my music library, right?
Nope: Any music that shows up in your Library tab is music that you put there.
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, though you can choose to stream in a higher bit-rate over cellular via the Music preferences screen.
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 takes away a huge component of the service.
I heard Apple Music's streaming 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.
As such, 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.
Note: This doesn't apply to tracks from your own collection that you've synced via iCloud Music Library: They're either matched to the DRM-free iTunes Store catalog, or uploaded as-is. You can then stream and download songs to any of your other devices (up to 10).
If you cancel your Apple Music subscription, those matched or uploaded tracks will disappear from iCloud Music Library, but any tracks you've downloaded will remain playable. Any songs from the subscription catalog, however, will become unplayable.
But [insert site here] told me Apple DRM-locks the music on my Mac!
That website is wrong. As of August 2016, the only thing Apple DRM-locks is their Apple Music catalog.
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.
If you have an Apple Music account, do you also need to subscribe to iTunes Match to get access to iCloud Music Library?
Nope! iTunes Match is bundled inside Apple Music. The only reason to subscribe would be if you plan to cancel your $9.99/month Apple Music subscription but still want access to your local music across all your 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 playing music from Apple's catalog doesn't appeal to you, but having on-the-go access to your full owned music library does, iTunes Match is a good alternate option.
I heard there's a song limit on matching for Apple Music and iTunes Match?
You're correct: You can only match up to 100,000 tracks from your library to the Apple Music or iTunes catalog, depending on what kind of subscription you have.
Can I mix and match my songs with the Apple Music collection?
Absolutely: You can 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 the iTunes Store?
The iTunes Store is very much alive: 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.
Unfortunately, Apple doesn't offer an easy way to buy albums you've found first on the streaming service, beyond just searching in the iTunes app or within the iTunes Store on your Mac.
Is Apple Music getting any exclusive content I won't be able to hear elsewhere?
All kinds! Apple Music has debuted music from Pharrell, Taylor Swift, Chance the Rapper, and many other high-profile artists in its first year of operation.
Beats 1 also offers a variety 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. 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 the Like icon while listening to a song to ask Apple Music to play more like the current song, or less of that genre.
What about new music?
The Browse 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?
Curated playlists are hand-built by Apple's Music Editors and artists; they're targeted specifically to your genre tastes, so if you like soundtracks, for example, you may get "The Musical Dialogue of Gilmore Girls" in your For You tab.
But if you're looking for something different, you can also browse through all of Apple's custom playlists under Browse > Curated Playlists.
Is there a way to share what I'm listening to?
You bet. Apple has integrated Twitter, Facebook, and Messages into Apple Music, so you can share playlists, albums, and videos with your friends. Unfortunately, those shared playlists aren't searchable nor live-updating: You'll just get a static link.
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, 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 are excellent: You can ask it to "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 Genius 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."
Can I still use Home Sharing with Apple Music?
Yup! You can set it up for each of your devices within the Settings and preferences screens.
I have a Sonos system: How can I listen to Apple Music?
Pretty easily! Apple Music is an official Sonos partner, so all you need is the Sonos app on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. (Unfortunately, Siri doesn't integrate with Sonos, so you won't be able to use voice commands.)
What about other home-connected speakers like the Amazon Echo?
Unfortunately — but unsurprisingly — Amazon currently only supports its own music service, Spotify, and Pandora for the Amazon Echo, Dot, and Tap.
How does Apple's radio service work?
It's split up into two sections: Beats 1, and algorithmic stations. Apple's premade algorithmic stations are a slight misnomer; They're partially custom-programmed by humans, to add an extra touch. You can also create a new entirely-algorithmic station from one of your songs, artists, or albums, however.
Beats 1 is the other half 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.
Tell me about Beats 1?
There's its aforementioned 24/7 nature, achieved by a combination of several A-list hosts and custom programming; it plays in over 100 countries, like Apple Music itself.
Once a Beats 1 show airs, can I download it and listen to it later?
Yes! All of the programmed shows have a full archive, while the everyday live shows are replayed 12 hours later, and some DJs may post playlists or snippets of their shows after the fact.
Who are the hosts of Beats 1?
The current hosts are three top-tier radio personalities: Zane Lowe, formerly of BBC1 and the Beats 1 head of programming, hosts the LA segment; Ebro Darden, former vice president of programming for NYC's WQHT Hot 97, broadcasts for NYC; and Julie Adenuga will host London's broadcast.
Each Beats 1 station also has a number of smaller personalities who run the country-specific shows (London, NYC, and LA each have a few one-hour blocks), along with CHART and REQUEST.
Does Beats 1 play explicit music?
Beats 1 plays music from explicit artists, but the music itself has so far just been clean radio-edits. Currently, there doesn't appear to be a way to set a preference for this on either Beats 1 or other algorithmic Apple Music radio stations.
Are there other radio stations, too?
No live ones, though Beats 1 does host programs from various celebrities and NYC/LA/London DJs whenever Low, Darden, and Adenuga aren't rocking the mic.
You'll have plenty of algorithmic Apple Music radio stations to choose from, however, including Soundsystem, The Mixtape, On the Floor, Pop Hits, All-City, Americana, Blues, Chill, Classic Alternative, Dance Pop, Electronic, Hip-Hop, Indie, R&B, and Workout Anthems. (You can read more about each on Apple's website.)
Can I create my own station?
Yep! You need only select "Create Station" from a song, album, or artist and Apple Music will algorithmically do the rest. You can also adjust your mix on the fly by favoriting songs and marking the ones you dislike.
What if I don't like a song that's playing?
You can easily adjust what your current algorithmic station is playing by firmly pressing on the mini-player (or tapping on the mini-player and tapping the More (…) button): From there, just tap the Love or Dislike button.
Troubleshooting Apple Music
What's the difference between Apple Music and iCloud Music Library?
Apple Music is the company's name for its whole streaming subscription service. iCloud Music Library is the part of that service dedicated to keeping track of any matched tunes from your Mac's library, uploaded songs that didn't match to the iTunes catalog, and any tracks you've added from the Apple Music catalog.
Is iCloud Music Library part of the stand-alone iTunes Match service, as well?
Yep! The iCloud library you use for both services is identical; as of August 2016, they both match to the iTunes Store's DRM-free song catalog.
Apple Music has eaten so much of my data plan! How do I make it stop?
Chances are you're streaming a lot of music over your cellular plan. We've put together a bunch of suggestions for keeping that from happening in the future.
Apple Music sucks so hard! My album art got screwed up, my songs won't sync... ARGH!
Deep breaths. Did you make a backup of your iTunes library before joining Apple Music? It might be worth logging out of Apple Music and going back to that backup.
Depending on your problem, we've got a lot of different troubleshooting steps and solutions you can try. Check out our troubleshooting Ultimate Guide for more help.
You don't have a troubleshooting article that helps me. Is there anything I can do?
Yes! Contact Apple Support. They may be able to help where our articles can't.
Got a question about Apple Music that we haven't answered yet? Drop it off in the comments and we'll try to answer it to the best of our ability.