Apple Music Overview Updated April 27, 2021

Apple Music: Features, Devices, Pricing, Radio, and more

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April 2015 - May 2021

Apple Music is the company’s music streaming subscription-based service that was released on June 30 of 2015 in 100 countries. Apple Music has over 70 million songs in its catalog and offers the ability to download your favorite tracks and play them offline.

With the possibility of listening across all your favorite devices, Apple Music offers new music personalized for every user, curated playlists from Apple’s editors, exclusive Radio, video clips, and original content.

Here’s everything you need to know about the service.

Everything about Apple Music

How and where can I listen to Apple Music?

apple music student

Apple Music is available on a variety of devices: iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, Mac, HomePod, CarPlay, PC, Android, Sonos, Amazon Echo, Samsung Smart TV, Google Nest, and the web.

To be more specific, the service needs at least iOS 10 and watchOS 2.2 to run on your Apple devices. Here are the devices available:

  • iPhone 5, 5C, SE (1st generation) or newer;
  • iPod touch (6th generation) or newer;
  • iPad (4th generation), iPad mini 2, iPad Air (1st generation), iPad Pro (1st generation) or newer;
  • Apple Watch (all)
  • Apple TV (4th generation) or newer;
  • Samsung Smart TVs from 2018 or newer.

It’s also possible to listen to it on your browser, just type A subscription is required.

How much does Apple Music cost? Does it have a family plan? What about a student one?

The Apple Music free trial for students

Apple Music is a subscription-based service and it doesn’t have a free tier like Spotify, although you can try it for free for three months. As for now, the service has three subscription tiers. Here they are:

  • Student: $4.99/month;
  • Individual: $9.99/month;
  • Family: $14.99/month.

With a subscription, you can:

  • Listen to over 70 million songs, plus your entire iTunes library;
  • Listen online or offline;
  • Stream ad-free music and music videos;
  • download 100,000 songs to your library;
  • Access across your devices;
  • See what your friends are listening to;
  • Original shows, concerts, and exclusives;
  • Live and on-demand radio stations hosted by artists.

A family subscription offers:

  • Access for up to six people;
  • A personal account for each family member;
  • Share your existing music library however you want.

Individual and student subscriptions have the same benefits. To apply for a student subscription, you just need to verify your college credentials with UNiDAYS every year while you’re studying.

Apple Music is available on all Apple One bundles as well. Learn more here.

Is Apple Music the same as iTunes?

This is sort of true because macOS Catalina Apple killed iTunes. The Music app is where you can find all your songs, bought on the iTunes Store, ripped from a CD, or downloaded via Apple Music.

iTunes Match

Before Apple Music, there was iTunes Match. The service uploaded your music library from the Apple Music app on your Mac or iTunes for Windows on your PC. Then you could access your music library on all of your devices that have Sync Library turned on.

Since Apple introduced its music service, the company encourages users to subscribe to the service, since you get all of the benefits of iTunes Match, plus access to the entire Music catalog.

Does Apple offer Hi-Fi quality on Apple Music?

Although Apple has really good speakers and headphones, such as the HomePod and AirPods Max, the company doesn’t offer Hi-Fi quality in its subscription yet.

Its music streaming service sound quality, on the other hand, tends to be better than other services available, because the company uses AAC format over MP3. Advanced Audio Coding achieves the portability and convenience of compressed and encoded digital audio while retaining the audio quality that’s indistinguishable from much larger digital files.

With Apple Digital Masters, artists can offer higher-quality tunes. Taylor Swift, Paul McCartney, Billie Eilish, and Sigrid, for example, offer their catalog with this label.

If you want to see if an album or artist has the Apple Digital Master label, you must open the iTunes Store and search for it.

Apple Music Replay

Apple Music has a Replay playlist of your most played songs of each year all the way from 2015 when the service launched.

The feature doesn’t have much, but by the end of every year, you can enter the Replay website here and see how much you listened to your favorite artists, your top 100 songs, and play counts for your top albums.

Apple Music vs Spotify

The main Apple Music competitor is Spotify. They’re both very similar. While AM is a better choice for those who already have a long-time iTunes catalog purchased, Spotify is the key music service if you love recommendations and algorithm-curated playlists.

With Spotify recently announcing it’s going to raise its prices, Music becomes a solid choice if you bundle it with Apple One. In 9to5Mac review post about the two services, José Adorno noted:

Starting with Apple One, I think is more convenient to pay one subscription for a lot of services rather than paying only Spotify for one service. With the Apple One Family plan, I have 200GB of iCloud storage, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and Apple Music, and I can share all of these services with my family. For $19.95 a month, I have way more benefits instead of paying $9.99 per month for Spotify individual plan or $16.99 for a family subscription that only includes the music service.

Here, you can learn more about similarities between these two services and what’s 9to5Mac readers take.

Apple Music walkthrough

As on iOS 14.5, Apple Music has five tabs on the iPhone. In this guide, I’ll explain what each tab does. There’s also your Profile on the app.

Listen Now

“Listen Now” is a section based on your favorite picks. It shows your recently played songs, what your friends are listening to, and stations and mixes just for you. At the end of the page, you can find the Replay section with your top songs by each year.


The “Browse” section is curated by Apple editors. You can find the most listened songs everywhere, new releases, what’s trending, exclusive playlists, the Daily Top 100, and what’s coming soon.

Alongside iOS 14.5, Apple introduced its City Charts, a bunch of playlists with the Top 25 songs of over 100 cities around the world. It’s updated daily. You can learn more about it here.


Apple Music Radio is the rebrand of Beats 1. Introduced in 2020, it offers shows, interviews, and everything else you expect from a radio. Apple Music Hits and Country are people’s favorite stations.

“Apple Music is home — it’s home to artists, it’s home to fans, and it’s home to incredible music,” said Zane Lowe, Apple Music’s global creative director, and host. “I’m an obsessive music nerd. I love searching for the most exciting new artists and playing them right alongside the most essential, established artists of our time because great music does not know the difference and the service’s fans just want to hear great music.”


The “Library” section is where you find your added songs. You can opt to listen to them online or offline. The offline songs are also available in the “Downloaded” tab.

You can edit the section to appear just the tabs you really use, such as “Playlists,” “Artists,” “Albums,” and “Songs,” while toggling of “Genres,” “Compilations,” and others.

You can search on Apple Music and in your library. You can also browse categories or write a part of a lyric to find the song.

Now Playing

The Now Playing screen shows the song, album, or playlist you’re listening to. You can enjoy the “lyrics view”, AirPlay your song using your speaker, Apple TV, Smart TV, wireless headphones, and see what will play next. In this section you can “Shuffle,” turn “Repeat” on, and toggle the “Infinite” button, to keep playing similar songs after a playlist or album is over.

In the “Now Playing” section, you can also share the song or the lyrics on Instagram and other social media platforms, and let Apple Music know if you love the song or want the service to suggest less like this.


At the top of the “Listen Now” section, there’s your Profile. You have to click on your photo, then “View Profile.” In this section, there are your public playlists, what you recently listened to, and who you follow, and who follows you.

The social part was never Apple’s strong move. These public playlists you can share with everyone and you can see who adds your list to their own library, which is nice. But apart from that and the possibility to know what your friends are listening to, there’s not much to do here.

Apple Music Awards

Apple Music Awards honor achievements in music across five distinct categories and winners are chosen through a process that reflects both Apple’s editorial perspective and what customers around the world are loving most. The award recognizes the best and boldest musicians of the year.

Apple has designed a series of physical awards that represent the extraordinary craftsmanship integral to creating music. Each award features Apple’s custom silicon wafer suspended between a polished sheet of glass and a machined and anodized aluminum body. The result of this multi-month process, before it is sliced into hundreds of individual chips, is stunning and distinctive. In a symbolic gesture, the same chips which power the devices that put the world’s music at your fingertips sit at the very heart of the Apple Music Awards.

Here are the categories and which artist had won in each one of them:

  • Artist of the Year: Lil Baby (2020) and Billie Eilish (2019);
  • Breakthrough Artist of the Year: Megan Thee Stallion (2020) and Lizzo (2019);
  • Songwriter of the Year: Taylor Swift (2020) and Billie Eilish and Finneas (2019);
  • Top Song of the Year: “The Box” by Roddy Ricch (2020) and “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X (2019);
  • Top Album of the Year: “Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial” by Roddy Ricch (2020) and “WHEN WE FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?” by Billie Eilish (2019).

As for now, Billie Eilish is the artist with more Music Awards with three awards from 2019 as “Artist of the Year,” “Songwriter of the Year,” and “Top Album of the Year,” followed by Roddy Ricch with two awards in 2019.

Apple Music Stories May 3, 2021


As part of the documents turning up in the ongoing Epic vs. Apple trial that commenced today, various details have leaked out about Epic’s planned road map for the game.

Seemingly, when Apple and Epic were on better terms, the companies plotted a services bundle that would offer a bundle subscription of Fortnite Club (a Fortnite subscription tier, which was later released in the US named “Fortnite Crew”), Apple Music, and Apple TV+.

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Apple Music Stories May 1, 2021

Apple Music and Spotify helping boost indie music earnings

A curious report earlier today claimed that Apple is working on a HiFi plan for Apple Music. While the report itself doesn’t come with much evidence, 9to5Mac was able to find code in iOS 14.6 that suggests support for HiFi songs coming to Apple Music in the future.

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A new rumor suggests Apple Music could announce a HiFi tier in the coming weeks as well as the launch of the third-generation AirPods alongside it. The rumor contradicts other reports that suggest AirPods 3 aren’t coming until the fall.

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Apple Music Stories April 28, 2021

PSA: Apple Music and iTunes outage affecting some users [Update: Fixed]

It seems that Apple has been experiencing problems with its servers once again this week. As reported by some users on social networks and confirmed by 9to5Mac, both Apple Music and iTunes are partially offline this Wednesday.

Spotify paying subscribers hit 158M

The number of Spotify paying subscribers hit 158M during Q1 of this year, says the company. It adds that North America was its strongest market.

Apple has remained quiet about its Apple Music paid subscriber base, but there are likely a couple of explanations for this …

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One of the cool new features in iOS 14.5 is the ability to share lyrics directly from Apple Music. In fact, Apple has built out a custom UI flow to share up to 150 characters of real-time lyrics with friends, straight from the Now Playing screen. Here’s how to share lyrics from Apple Music.

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Apple Music Stories April 27, 2021

Apple Music City Charts officially go live following iOS 14.5 release

Following yesterday’s iOS 14.5 release, Apple has officially launched Apple Music City Charts, a collection of playlists updated daily with what’s trending in over 100 cities around the world.

Apple Music Stories April 24, 2021


In April, I decided to give Spotify a try over Apple Music. As an Apple Music subscriber since day one, I always wondered how it was using Apple’s most important competitor in the music streaming war. After almost a month, I finally decided whether I’m going to stay as a Spotify subscriber or switch back to Apple Music.

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Apple Music Stories April 21, 2021


Apple News is going to add Apple Music editorial content, as spotted by MacStories. This will add stories about artists and new releases to the Apple News application.

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Apple Music Stories April 20, 2021


Apple events and product introduction videos are well known for using excellent music. They fill up many of our music libraries. The company does an incredible job curating the perfect tunes. Instead of having to Shazam each song from today’s special event or going over to Apple’s YouTube channel, you can find all of the music that Apple used today directly below!

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Apple Music Stories April 18, 2021


Today we are taking a look at how to get your music video on Apple Music. More specifically, the various options and difficulties with regards to independent digital distribution of our music videos and music-related video content to Apple’s streaming platform. We have previously discussed services like TuneCore — one of the better options for getting your music on Apple Music, Spotify, and many others — however, things have evolved in the space since then with TuneCore competitor Distrokid now making waves, but to some degree, options are still somewhat limited when it comes distributing your companion video content. So let’s take a closer look at Apple’s official list of distributor partners, the best options available for independent music makers/content creators, and how to distribute your music video on Apple Music. 

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Apple Music Stories April 8, 2021


For quite a while I’ve been thinking about switching from Apple Music to Spotify. I’ve been an Apple Music user since day one and rely on the Apple ecosystem for everything (from AirPods to HomePod and all other Apple devices), so I thought this would be a tough decision.

In April, I decided that I’d finally give Spotify a chance, and I’ve got some initial thoughts: the good, the bad, and all the surprises along the way. A couple of weeks from now, I’ll give my final opinion on whether I stick with Spotify or whether I return to Apple Music.

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Apple Music Stories April 3, 2021

Streaming music services growing fast

In the same way people argue about iOS over Android, the debate between Apple Music vs Spotify has also grown since 2015. As the music streaming service war starts to bring podcasts and HiFi to the battlefield, are you planning to stay with your current streaming service, or are you considering switching?

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If you’ve ever thought about switching your Apple Music subscription to Spotify, Pandora, YouTube Music, Deezer, or the vice versa, one thing that probably made you change your mind is “how am I going to transfer all my songs from a streaming service to another?” Well, here’s the answer.

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Apple Music Stories March 25, 2021


Apple today announced a new partnership with Warner Music to launch “Saylists,” which are special playlists available on Apple Music that are focused on helping young people with speech-sound disorders.

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Apple Music Stories March 24, 2021

‘Next’ music app debuts new playlists to help you discover what to listen to on Apple Music

As we covered earlier this year, “Next” is an app that offers a new way to rediscover your music library through smart playlists. Sorcererhat, Next’s developer, has revamped its smart playlists with a variety of new options.

Apple Music Stories March 19, 2021

Apple Music Up Next Documentary Series

Apple Music has announced an expansion of its “Up Next” editorial initiative. As first reported by Billboard, Apple Music is bringing a new “international local focus” to the artist spotlight program. Apple has also announced the artists that will be featured next…

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Apple Music Stories March 17, 2021


Update: The missing albums appear to be returning to Apple Music and can again be streamed. You can read the original article below.

Here we are with another widespread issue on Apple Music. This time, users have been reporting on Reddit and other social networks that several albums are missing when you try to find them through search or the artist’s page.

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Apple Music Stories March 15, 2021


Following the release of iOS 14.5 beta 4 for developers, Apple continues to add new features to Apple Music. After bringing a new way to share song lyrics from Apple Music on Instagram and iMessage, Apple is now adding new “City Charts” daily playlists to its music streaming service with iOS 14.5.

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Apple Music Stories March 13, 2021


Apple Music is falling behind Spotify in the music streaming wars. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been using Apple Music since the day it was released in 2015, but after almost six years of its launch, I don’t think I can defend Apple for not correcting some flaws or adding features users really want.

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Apple Music Stories March 10, 2021

Amazon Music now offering in-app merch as competition with Apple Music builds

Amazon Music is out today with an expansion to what’s available in the app, and both artists and fans will be excited about the change. Vinyl, exclusive merch, and more are now integrated right into the Amazon Music app, with the first artists jumping on board including Billie Eilish, Weezer, Metallica, Queen, Selena Gomez, and Lady Gaga. The move from Amazon comes as competition with Apple Music and Spotify continues to heat up.

Apple Music Stories March 9, 2021


When you set up a new iPhone, you’re likely going to use the Apple Music app, especially since you get a three-month free trial. But when you buy an Android phone, is Apple Music the first music-streaming service you think about? Probably not. If you’re wondering how the Apple Music experience is on the Samsung Galaxy S21+, here it is.

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Apple Music Stories March 8, 2021

Apple celebrates International Women’s Day with special collections in the App Store, Apple Music app, and more

On March 8, the world celebrates International Women’s Day. Apple is joining in by featuring apps, stories, podcasts, songs, and more created by women.

Apple Music Stories March 4, 2021

Streaming music services growing fast

Apple had long resisted letting users change default apps on their iPhone. With iOS 14, however, you can choose your preferred Mail app and browser, and the beta of iOS 14.5 suggested that you could do the same with the Music app…but maybe not. 

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How to make Spotify the iPhone default when using Siri with iOS 14.5

As Jeff Benjamin noted in 9to5Mac’s video coverage, iOS 14.5 will use Siri intelligence to select music services based on listening behaviors. While the feature falls short of actually allowing you to set a default music service, it will open Siri to easier music control for more services without having to specify which service to use. Apple has now described in more detail how it intends the new behavior to work.

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Apple Music Stories March 1, 2021

Apple Music Radio

Apple started the music playlist idea when it debuted the “Rip, Mix, Burn” campaign 20 years ago. The idea is that you could create your mixes by ripping your CDs to iTunes, making a playlist in iTunes, and then burning it back to a CD. Since then, the idea of the digital music playlist has transformed how the music industry works with everyone from Apple Music to Spotify spending countless resources to create the perfect playlist for every occasion. On the other hand, Apple has made the anti-playlist with Apple Music Radio, and it’s something the music industry needs to lean into going forward.

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Apple Music Stories February 27, 2021


HomePod and even the new HomePod mini don’t count songs when you ask Siri to play something on your smart speaker. This affects your Apple Music Replay statistics and integration with third-party Apple Music applications.

Luckily, there is a workaround, but hopefully this is something Apple fixes sooner rather than later.

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Apple Music Stories February 26, 2021


Apple Music is showing off its love for the industry in a new collection called Behind the Songs. Here, Apple Music members can discover music with an emphasis on songwriters, producers, and session musicians who may not otherwise receive top credits.

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Apple Music Stories February 24, 2021

No Apple Music free tier

Apple’s music publishing head Elena Segal has confirmed what had already seemed very likely: that there will never be an Apple Music free tier.

Segal made the statement at a British government hearing into the economics of music streaming, investigating whether artists are paid enough. Segal said there were two reasons that it wouldn’t be the right approach for Apple…

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Are your ears good enough for Spotify HiFi? Take this test to find out

Spotify HiFi, a lossless audio version of the streaming music service, is set to launch later this year at a higher subscription than the standard Spotify Premium membership. But are your ears good enough to make the service worthwhile?

Apple Music Stories February 23, 2021


Spotify announced on Monday a new HiFi subscription tier, podcasts featuring former President Barack Obama and rockstar Bruce Springsteen as co-hosts, and Streaming Ad Insertion to sell ads even on podcasts.

Following those announcements, The Verge interviewed Spotify CEO Daniel Ek, and he talked about what it’s like competing with Apple.

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Apple Music Stories February 22, 2021


Billie Eilish and Apple have been collaborating for a few years now, and the company announced today the artist is going to perform live on Thursday, February 25, in the Apple Music app, the Apple TV app, and on YouTube. This comes before the premiere of her documentary on Apple TV+, The World’s a Little Blurry.

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The 65-year-old actor and writer Leslie Jordan will soon be hosting his own weekly show on Apple Music. Known for his role on Will & Grace and more recently for posting funny videos on Instagram, Jordan will star in “Hunker Down Radio” on the Apple Music Country radio station.

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In a virtual event today, Spotify detailed a range of updates and new features coming to the audio platform. One of the most interesting announcements is the new lossless “Spotify HiFi” that will be an add-on option for premium subscribers as the platform looks to increase its lead over rivals like Apple Music.

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Apple Music Stories February 17, 2021


The first iOS 14.5 beta was released earlier this month to developers with several new features, and iOS 14.5 beta 2 arrived this week with even more changes. Among the new features, Apple has made some interesting changes to the Music app, which now includes a new way to share lyrics and revamped menus. Read on as we detail what has changed in the Music app with iOS 14.5.

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macOS Big Sur gaining Apple Music Autoplay starting with 11.3 beta 2 update

Apple Music introduced a helpful new feature in iOS 14 that keeps the music going even when an album or playlist ends. Now macOS Big Sur is slated to receive the same treatment in the next software update to the Music app.

Apple Music Stories February 16, 2021

Apple Music and Spotify helping boost indie music earnings

The Mechanical Licensing Collective (The MLC) announced today that it has received a total of $424,384,787 in licensing fees from all music streaming services, which includes Apple Music, Spotify, and Amazon Music. Apple was responsible for $163,338,890 — which is the largest amount paid by all companies.

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Apple Music Stories February 15, 2021


Apple Music’s Replay feature – the equivalent to Spotify’s Wrapped – is a great way to check out what you’ve been listening to most. And one of the benefits of Apple’s approach is Replay is available all-year long with updates to your playlist weekly to keep track of your top songs and more.

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Apple Music Stories February 11, 2021

The Apple Music free trial for students

The Apple Music free trial for students is normally the same three months as anyone else, before you’re offered the option of a half-price subscription with Apple TV+ thrown in as a sweetener. But Apple is currently doubling the free period to six months for higher education students in selected countries.

The exact qualifying requirements vary a little by country …

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Apple Music Stories February 8, 2021

Setting Spotify as your default music player

Apple has finally offered the ability to set Spotify as your default music player for Siri commands. This was previously only available on HomePods, and was a feature we asked for back in 2019.

The new behavior appears in the beta of iOS 14.5. The first time you ask Siri to play something, it lists all the streaming services you have installed on your device and ask you which of them you want to use. Once you have done so, Siri then defaults to that service for subsequent requests …

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Apple Music Stories February 7, 2021


Alongside Super Bowl LV this evening, Apple is teaming up with country music artist Dolly Parton to offer 5 free months of Apple Music to new subscribers. In addition to the new promotion, you can also use Shazam to identify a Dolly Parton song during the Super Bowl to unlock a special surprise…

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Apple Music Stories February 3, 2021

Apple Music, Books, App Store down for some as services experience blip [Ongoing]

Update 11:45 a.m. ET: Three hours after the outage started, Apple says the issues are now resolved.

Update 1:49 p.m. ET: Apple now reports outages affecting iCloud Photos, Notes, Backups, and other cloud services.

If you’re having trouble playing Apple Music right now, you’re not alone. Apple’s servers appear to be experiencing a blip in performance that’s affecting Apple Music streaming and more. Apple Books and the App Store are also affected.

Spotify paid subscribers hit 155M

Spotify‘s paid subscribers hit 155M at the end of the last quarter of last year, up 24% year-on-year. This compares to the last-declared figure of 60M from Apple Music.

Total monthly active Spotify users, which include people on the free ad-funded tier, reached 345M, a year-on-year increase of 27% …

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Apple Music Stories January 15, 2021

Apple uses Shazam data to predict hot artists for 2021

Apple is using Shazam data to predict hot artists for 2021 – those who are not yet big names but have been Shazammed by lots of people lately.

It has been speculated that being able to use Shazam data in this way was one of the main reasons Apple was willing to pay $400M for the app back in 2017 …

Apple Music Stories January 2, 2021


One of the key features Apple touts with its new Fitness+ workouts service is deep integration with Apple Music. One of the ways in which this is now manifesting itself is with a dedicated category in the Music app, allowing users to quickly view playlists from Fitness+ workouts.

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Apple Music Stories December 30, 2020


Although iOS comes with a native Apple Music application, developers have been using the MusicKit API to create new experiences for those who subscribe to Apple’s streaming service. If you’re an Apple Music subscriber and want to find out how to better enjoy your music library with unique features, I’ve selected some of the best iOS apps with Apple Music integration.

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Apple Music Stories December 18, 2020

Apple Music award winners extended videos on official YouTube channel

Apple last month revealed its 2020 Apple Music award winners, and it has been uploading extended videos of each of the artists to its official YouTube channel over the past few days …

Apple Music Stories December 17, 2020


We recently reported that Shazam is offering up to five months of free Apple Music subscription to new users, but it seems Apple has been getting even more aggressive in its marketing strategies. The company partnered with TikTok to offer four months of free Apple Music in a new special offer.

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