Unless you’ve been living under a rock with your fingers in your ears for the last few months, you’ll know that Apple is widely tipped to be launching a music-streaming service at WWDC this year — though the Cupertino company itself has remained tight-lipped on the matter.
That means we’re relying on speculation and insider sources for our information, and there’s now so much of it that it would be surprising if Apple didn’t have a Spotify-style twist for iTunes up its sleeve. The latest rumors, courtesy of Re/code, are that Apple is going to offer users a variety of free samples but no free tier supported by ads.
The record labels aren’t big fans of Spotify’s free plan and it sounds like Apple isn’t either. For its part, Spotify insists that free access is essential if users are going to be attracted away from piracy sites, or alternatives like YouTube, that don’t cost anything at all. With Apple negotiating its own terms from the labels, the issue has come into sharp focus again.
Re/code says that Apple is considering a free trial period, a small number of free track samples and a revamped iTunes Radio (where listening is free but playlist control is limited). Which of these options will make it to the finished product depends on how negotiations with the record labels go over the next month — Apple is rushing to get them tied up in time for WWDC, which starts on June 8.
The new service is expected to be largely based on the existing Beats Music, which Apple got hold of after its acquisition last year. Beats owners Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine moved to Apple as part of the deal and are likely to have been influential in the development of the new platform. We shouldn’t have too long to wait to see the finished product.