Apple has finally revealed Apple Music, its music streaming service which brings the fight straight to Spotify, Google Play Music and fresh-faced Tidal.
If you've yet to jump on board the all-you-can-eat music streaming bandwagon then save yourself the hassle of trawling through multiple sites and read up on them right here:
- Apple Music: 30 million
- Spotify: 30 million
- Google Play Music: 30 million
- Tidal: 25 million
The playing field is pretty much equal here, with Tidal lagging behind. Taylor Swift fans will probably want to know that her music is still not available on Spotify after it was pulled.
Having said that, you won't find The Beatles available as part of Apple's 30 million-strong streaming library either. You'll still have to purchase the band's songs through the iTunes Store as normal.
- Apple Music: N/A
- Spotify: up to 320kbps
- Google Play Music: up to 320kbps
- Tidal: Up to 320kbps, 1411kbps (HiFi)
Tidal's lossless format is ahead of the rest of the pack, but you'll be paying twice the price for the privilege. Google Play Music and Spotify both serve tracks up to 320kbps, while Apple has yet to reveal the bitrate of its streaming service.
If Apple sticks with its existing 256kbps variable bitrate, then that's not necessarily the end of the world, as some audiophiles would argue that the ability to change and increase a song's bitrate on the fly, makes tracks actually sounds better than their 320kbp equivalents.
Artist social feed
- Apple Music: Yes
- Spotify: No
- Google Play Music: No
- Tidal: No
Apple Music is currently the only service that allows artists to interact with their fans and update their profiles with their musings and photos. The thing is, it's far too early to tell how useful or interesting these pages will actually be, when Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are already being used. Apple Music social pages could just be an extra hassle for artists (or their PRs) to look after. Watch this space.
- Apple Music: Beats 1 station, 6 skips
- Spotify: Ads, 6 skips on mobile
- Google Play Music: upload up to 50,000 to music locker
- Tidal: N/A
Google Play Music might not offer any free streaming, but it does let you upload up to 50,000 of your own songs to the cloud, letting you access them from anywhere using the Play Music app or web player.
- Apple Music: Yes (paid subscription)
- Spotify: Yes (paid subscription)
- Google Play Music: Yes (paid subscription)
- Tidal: Yes (paid subscription)
Not much to be said here. All of the music streaming services support offline playback, as long as you're forking out your fee.
Of course, all of the above is a little moot as none of these services (as of this writing) are currently available in the Middle East - at least not through official channels anyway. Still, every discerning gadgeteer deserves the right to be as informed as possible so, for the sake of argument, here's what the damage to your wallet would look like should you be able to subscribe in the near future.
- Apple Music: US$10/month or US$15/month (Family plan for six devices)
- Spotify: US$10/month (US$30 for five people)
- Google Play Music: US$10/month
- Tidal: US$10 for 320kbps, US$20 for 1411kbps
While these prices strictly reflect rates in the US, we can expect something similar if/when these services arrive in the Middle East. The clear winner of the bunch is definitely Apple Music as it offers the best value for money if you want more than one person on your plan. Hopefully this means we'll see aggressive price cuts from its rivals. Hooray for competition.
It's definitely worth noting that Spotify does offer free music streaming, though you'll have to put up with adverts in between songs. And no, you can't mute them to skip them either.