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With live radio and unlimited play, Apple Music steps up to Spotify

Transforming Apple’s iTunes into a new-look streaming music service with Beats at its core has been an arduous process, but today at WWDC 2015, the company finally unveiled Apple Music. The all-encompassing subscription music service will launch “later this month” in 100 countries on Apple mobile devices, Mac and PC, and later this year on Android devices for a price of $10 per month. As expected, Apple also announced subscribers will be able to try the service for free for 3 months, but a $15 per month family plan for up to 6 members came as a pleasant surprise.

The event stage had plenty of stars on hand, including Beats co-founder, now Apple co-conspirator, Jimmy Iovine. Addressing the crowd, Iovine called Apple Music a “bigger and better ecosystem with the elegance and simplicity that only Apple can do.” Other members of Apple’s music division on hand to show off the service included Drake, Trent Reznor via video, and Apple’s Senior VP of Internet Software Services, Eddy Cue.

The new service will be based around two main branches, including an on-demand streaming portion to combat Spotify which will incorporate everything in the iTunes library, as well as any of your “purchased music” in iTunes (though it isn’t clear if that includes tracks that you “acquired” elsewhere), alongside a new 24/7 Internet Radio service called Beats One.

Apple Music
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Helmed by Apple’s new star DJ, Zane Lowe — whom the company courted away from the BBC — Beats One is designed to be more like traditional radio, offering an”always on” station playing tunes chosen by real DJs in real time, and allowing for in-studio guest appearances. Beats One’s live feeds will be based out of three major cities at launch, including LA, NYC, and London.

In addition, Apple has added a service called Connect, which is designed as a clipboard for artists to upload photos, lyrics, and social media messages directly, which can then be shared with other social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and the artists’ own websites. Fans will be able to engage with their favorite musicians from Connect as well, by commenting or liking artist posts.

The service seems to offer everything the rumor mill predicted, and a bit more. And although Apple has some serious catching up to do in the rapidly-expanding streaming music landscape, with Apple’s industry might, and the creation of a true all-in-one service that allows fans to access streaming music, and their own catalogs, it could have some serious legs. Throw in 3 months free, and we predict Apple will have a lot of listeners hopping on board. However, whether or not those would-be converts will stay with the service may depend on the interface itself, and just how easy it is to use.

To that end, Apple has rolled out a few secret weapons in its new interface, including the incorporation of Siri for advanced searching — after all, one of the most overwhelming parts about using a streaming service with millions of available tunes is finding what you’re looking for. With Siri, users will be able to use voice recognition to search tracks and albums by name, look for top-charted songs in select genres, and even call up songs from specific eras.

For the demo, Eddy Cue asked Siri to find the top song in his graduation year, May 1982, which promptly pulled up Joan Jett’s I Love Rock ‘n Roll. In addition, Cue got more ambiguous, asking Siri to “find the song from Selma.” Siri stumbled at first, but after re-engaging, the bot finally found John Legend’s hit track Glory.

As for the actual interface itself, Cue showed off four main windows during the event:

1) For You  — This window offers your own iTunes playlists, and also adds in curated playlists based both on your past musical choices, and Apples real-live-human-based-curation-machine. Apple has stressed that a “human touch” makes its service better than those based purely on algorithms.

2) New — As you might have guessed, this window showcases the latest albums and singles atop the charts, and also allows users to pull up chart-topping HD videos.

3) Beats One — Selecting this window pulls up the latest live stream from your preferred choice out of the New York, LA, or London feed. During the demonstration, Beats One showcased an in-studio interview with Florence and the Machine, feeling a lot like what you’ll get from a standard radio station such as, well, the BBC. That’s no coincidence since Zane Lowe likely brought a lot of his BBC tricks with him when crossing the pond to join Apple.

4) Connect — Showing off the Connect window, Cue called up a video uploaded by the band Bastille from the studio, at work on their latest single. There was also a live video uploaded by the band, Alabama Shakes.

There’s a lot to like about Apple’s new service, which has been painted as a one stop shop for all things music, brought to you by a company that has been synonymous with the art for over a decade. Still, it’s been a long time since Apple brought forth any major innovation in the world of music, and in that time, many competitors have gained real ground.

Apple Music
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Will this new service offer enough to entice Spotify’s 15 million paying members, or, more importantly, can it grab the other 45 million streamers on Spotify who currently stream for free? Only time will tell, but it won’t be long until we all get a crack at Apple’s latest plan for world domination.

Priced at $10 per month for single users, and an attractive $15 per month for up to six users, Apple Music is slated for availability to over 100 countries “later this month.” Stay tuned for our hands on review coming soon.

To find out more about Apple Music, follow below to see all the steps Apple took over the last few months leading up to today’s unveiling.

 Next page: Apple courts Drake to DJ its free Internet radio tier

Apple made another big move to shore up its quest for music streaming domination over the weekend, reportedly offering pop star/rapper Drake a rumored $19 million to play DJ for the company’s forthcoming streaming service, according to the New York Post. The deal is just the latest in a string of moves Apple has made in an effort to hit the ground running in the expansive streaming music market.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Drake will join other DJs for a second-tier Internet radio service in addition to Apple’s $10/month on-demand service, Apple Music, which will look to upend other on-demand services like Spotify, Rhapsody, and Jay-Z’s Tidal. The radio service will be a free offering, according to the report, perhaps hoping to bring more users into the fold that will eventually be willing to pay Apple’s monthly streaming fee for unbridled access to millions of tracks.

Apple Music
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Still, the service will have its work cut out for it as it aims to put up a fight against the top contender in the on-demand music genre, Spotify. Not only will Apple be courting users to make a proactive switch to a foreign service, but Apple Music will also be attempting to drag Spotify’s 45 million free listeners (who get ad-supported access to millions of songs) into a $10/month subscription fee: Not an easy task, to say the least.

To that end, the Post reports that Apple is also considering offering users an audition of its on-demand service free in a three-month trial period. And that’s just a small part of the company’s overall strategy to peel off users from the competition. The company has pulled out all the stops to get a leg up, including trying to nail down exclusive content from a host of artists, bringing in other hot DJs like Zane Lowe from the BBC, and even pressuring music labels to try and kill off Spotify’s free music tier.

That said, Apple’s sprawling efforts to chokehold the competition and blast onto the scene have resulted in a mixed bag of successes and failures. The company has had trouble securing exclusive deals, reportedly only locking down music from Florence and the Machine’s new album for an exclusive run. Additionally, Apple’s attempts to get labels to pull the plug on Spotify’s free version brought down an investigation from the Justice Department.

And in a move of pure hubris, the company that has an estimated $178 billion in cash on hand to spend at its leisure is attempting to secure music rights from record labels for free over its three month trials instead of eating the cost, reports the Post. That’s highly unlikely to get the green light, however, as that would mean a massive drop in profits for all rights holders over the quarter, especially considering how big a chunk music streaming is taking from downloads, and hard-copy sales.

The move to secure a free ride from music labels and rights holders is all the more ludicrous when you consider that Spotify, which has yet to make a profit, offered its own incentive to new subscribers by offering its Premium ad-free tier for $1/month for three months without asking for a concession from rights holders. Add in the fact that major labels own a share of Spotify, and it makes Apple’s request seem almost childishly brazen.

The report also claims Apple is attempting to include lyrics on its service, again without paying rights holders for the feature. But that too seems a stretch, even for Apple. But hey, if you’re one of the most wealthy and powerful firms on the planet, it’s worth a shot, right?

Whether or not Apple’s attempts to court celebrities like Drake, as well as other team members like Trent Reznor and Dre to lend their skills to its new service will be successful or not remains to be seen. It hasn’t seemed to work too well so far for Jay-Z’s streaming service, Tidal, but then again Tidal doesn’t have the Apple logo stamped on its homepage.

We should know a lot more about which of Apple’s tactics are sink and which are swim in short order, as the service is expected to debut at Apple’s WWDC conference next week. Until then, stay tuned.

 Next page: Apple Music gets its name, new social media component

Apple Music, the reported new name for the tech giant’s soon-to-be-launched streaming music service, will include its own integrated social network similar to its now-defunct Ping social network according to reputable Apple blog 9to5mac.

The beta version of iOS released this week includes an option in Settings for the music app that refers to “Artist Activity.” The 9to5mac report infers from this that artists will be given their own pages within the streaming music service. The social profile pages could give artists the ability to post new songs, photos, videos, and concert dates according to the report.

If its similarity to Ping is as noted, it’s certainly a contentious move for the service. The Ping social network, which was linked to iTunes, shut down in 2012 and was replaced by Facebook integration after an unsuccessful run. At the time, Tim Cook explained that Apple “tried Ping and the customer voted, and we said, this isn’t something I want to put a lot of energy into. Some customers love it, but there’s not a huge number that do.” In the new iteration of the social network, subscribers will reportedly have no page of their own, but will be able to follow and comment on artists’ pages.

The service will reportedly be “integrated deeply into the redesigned iOS 8.4 Music application,” and users will be able to move over existing cloud libraries from Beats Music. The rumor claims Apple will keep iTunes Match and iTunes Radio, although Radio will feature “improved mixes” and an “international rollout.”

The premium-only streaming service, which is based on Beats’ now defunct Beats Music, is anticipated to be introduced next month at the 26th annual WWDC event scheduled for June 8 to June 12.  9to5Mac says that the subscription service, which will be $10/month, will be fully released toward the end of June. Notably, though, some sources have said that Apple doesn’t have the necessary licensing deals to launch the service in June. We’ll have to wait and see, but until then, stay with us to find out all the rumors for the new service, past and present.

 Next page: Apple has trouble inking content deals with labels

Apple is reportedly having problems inking content deals with labels

Apple’s upcoming Beats-based music service has been hotly anticipated, but its rumored June release may have hit a snag. Unnamed music industry officials have told Billboard that Apple doesn’t have the ‘necessary licensing deals’ a month before its new service’s supposed launch at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, which begins June 8 in San Francisco.

While multiple industry reports have confirmed the service’s June launch, music industry execs are not sure whether Apple can secure music licensing deals within just a few weeks. One of the sources in the Billboard report said that Apple’s clout and history of success in the music industry makes securing the deals a possibility. “If any company can pull it off, they can,” said the source.

The service has had its ups and downs in the path gearing up to its launch. After unsuccessfully attempting to price the streaming music service at $5/month (and later, $8/month), the subscription-only service will reportedly match its competitors’ price point of $10/month.

Taking a page from Tidal, Apple is also hoping that exclusive artist deals will help convince users to subscribe. Detailed in our previous report, the tech giant has asked Florence and the Machine, Taylor Swift, and other artists to give the service exclusive rights to their songs. The only publicly leaked exclusive it has lined up so far, however, is a song from Florence and the Machine’s upcoming June release How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful.

Another exec, also from the Billboard report, wasn’t so confident about the rebirth of Beats Music coming so soon. “June won’t be the release date. The deals aren’t done,” he said.

All signs point to the fact that the release date was slated for the Developers Conference, although Apple has notably made no official statements on the matter. It looks like we may not find out when Apple’s new music streaming service will debut until we see it on the big screen in June — or don’t. One thing’s for sure, though: Apple’s power-packed team of Music specialists has a busy month ahead of them.

 Next page: Apple banks on exclusive content for its new service

Apple banks on exclusive content

As time ticks down to the June launch of the new Apple-Beats subscription-based streaming music service, news has surfaced (again) that it will feature exclusive artist deals in an effort to entice music listeners to pay up.

According to Bloomberg, Apple has asked Florence and the Machine “and more than a dozen other artists,” including Taylor Swift, for exclusive content deals. The report says that the tech giant is in talks to give the service limited streaming rights to a track from Florence and the Machine’s upcoming June release, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. Tidal, the star-studded, Jay-Z backed hi-fi streaming service which re-launched last month, has also touted exclusive content on its platform.

The recent focus for subscription music services on exclusive content is a simple concept: if an artist’s fans can’t get an album (or other content) anywhere else, then they’ll be forced to sign up with the service to access it — or just pirate it, of course. Exclusivity in music services was plunged into the spotlight recently when Taylor Swift decided to forego the release of 1989 on any streaming services (and boycot Spotify) last fall.

As we previously reported, the Apple-Beats streaming service will have a $10 monthly price point and, unlike Spotify, the service will offer no free, ad-supported tier. The Bloomberg report also mentions that a $15 family plan, which Spotify and Rdio also offer for the same price, will be available at launch.

While the availability of a handful of exclusive albums most likely will not be enough to convince music consumers to cough up cash, other factors — like music curation, ease of use and better royalty payout to artists — certainly might.

It’s worth noting that Apple wasn’t successful in its attempts at securing a lower monthly price point for the service, but it is hoping to convert iTunes users in a way that iTunes Radio was unable to do. And the more major artists the service has up its sleeve, the more likely that will become.

 Next page: Apple loses the price war with labels

Apple loses the price war with labels

 In March, it seemed all but certain that Apple’s new iTunes subscription streaming service, which launches in June, would come to market at $8/month, giving it a slim price advantage over services like Spotify. But oh what a difference a few days can make in the fast-paced world of streaming music.

Citing industry sources, Billboard reports that Apple has given up on trying to redefine the streaming music price point due to pressure from the major music labels, resorting to the $10/month standard. The report claims that, as it stands, Apple would “lose money” under the $8/month model, which is striking considering that Apple’s original plan was to try for a $5/month plan.

The music industry at large is still in decline, and labels like Sony and Universal are rethinking the current streaming paradigm in order to bring in more profits. Factors like Taylor Swift’s recent exit from Spotify, and a general downturn in profits as more and more listeners abstain from downloading music in exchange for “freemium” ad-based services have contributed to a tightening of the belt, so to speak.

This, while Apple is hoping to revolutionize its own aging iTunes model, transitioning from downloads to lean more heavily on subscription streaming. Besides a play for lower pricing, the company has made several moves recently in an effort to gain an advantage over the biggest player in the subscription space, Spotify, which often touts its industry-leading 15 million paid subscribers.

To that end, Apple has put together a powerful team of music industry stalwarts, more recently adding BBC Radio star DJ Zane Lowe to other high-profile names like Trent Reznor and Beats co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre.

Updated 4/30/2015: Music Business Worldwide reports that Apple has also snatched four BBC employees for its upcoming music service, among them accomplished Radio 1 producers James Bursey, Natasha Lynch, and Kieran Yeates. As the report notes, Yeates is a particularly notable addition because he currently spearheads BBC Introducing, a radio program featuring undiscovered talent.

Without a free version to build from, Apple has been hoping to entice users with specially curated stations designed by its high-powered employees, as well as garnering exclusive content by throwing its weight around. However, the Billboard report claims that Apple’s clout will be of little use in the cutthroat world of music acquisition, with one industry expert claiming, “If (Apple) want(s) exclusive content, they’re going to have to get out their checkbook.”

 Next page: June launch date confirmed

June launch date confirmed for Apple’s music streaming service

Apple’s new streaming service, a revamped version of Beats Music, will launch at WWDC, Apple’s annual developer conference in June, according to 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman. There’s a good chance you won’t be able to access it for free, though.

As previously reported, the new service will be woven into the iTunes platform, remove the Beats branding but integrate Beats-style personalization including curated playlists, cloud-based libraries and other customized musical recommendations. The 9to5Mac report also confirms that the “service will be price as high as $7.99 per month.”

Apple still has plans to offer the new streaming service across platforms including Android, which may have caused some delay for the service’s launch (which was supposed to take place in early 2015). The service will launch as part of an iOS 8.4 upgrade for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

According to a report from Re/code, there’s talk that the streaming service may be only accessible behind a pay wall, ending the ‘freemium’ model that Spotify and others currently use. Execs from Apple Cue, Beat Music, Sony Music, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group have all expressed support of discouraging freemium streaming services, citing the difficulty of converting free users to paid ones.

 Next page: Apple hires DJ Zane Lowe

Apple hires DJ Zane Lowe for new music streaming service

In what can be seen as another coup for its forthcoming music streaming service, Apple added some new talent to the company’s music payroll today hiring star DJ and producer Zane Lowe, as reported by the BBC.

A major talent behind the scenes, and the microphone, Zane Lowe is expected to play a big role in Apple’s bid to become more relevant in the quickly-shifting music landscape. The BBC gave little away in its announcement yesterday, focusing on his past achievements, and saying only that Lowe will be leaving his post at Radio 1 in March and “moving to the US to work at Apple.”

Speaking of those past achievements, while most U.S. listeners may know precious little about Lowe’s work directly, indirectly his influence has had a huge impact on the global music scene. A New Zealand native, Lowe’s “hottest record in the world” showcase has been instrumental in launching several artists, including Arctic Monkeys, and Adele, and he also helped to produce Sam Smith’s premiere album, Lonely Hour, as reported by The Telegraph. The DJ is also well known for his interviews with big stars like Kanye West.

Just what Lowe will be doing for Apple is still unclear, and neither party is saying much about the move. However, there is plenty of speculation in the air, especially centered around Apple’s new-look iTunes subscription streaming service. The service has been under the knife for several months now, and while there’s no definitive blueprint yet, we do know the new service will be incorporating key infrastructure from the newly acquired Beats Music, and may also be priced lower than services like Spotify and Pandora.

If Lowe does play a role in the new streaming service, it’s likely that he’ll be utilized as a curator specialist for playlists, as well as a musicologist of sorts, helping Apple find influential music culled from various genres that will help to give the service an edge.

Whatever Lowe’s role, his hiring can only be seen as good news for those looking forward to Apple’s new slant on the streaming music landscape. If all goes to plan, Apple’s new offering could arrive as early as this spring, or possibly sometime in early summer. We’ll update this report when we find out more, so stay tuned.

Next page: The new service takes shape

Apple’s new music streaming service takes shape

Back when Apple threw down $3 billion for Beats Electronics, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that the tech colossus had big plans for its new acquisition’s streaming service, Beats Music. Six months later, we’re finally starting to see pieces of the plan for Apple’s new service take shape, and no surprise, it will likely look a lot like Spotify Premium, but cheaper, and better integrated into Apple’s shiny wares.

Drawing from “multiple sources within Apple and the music industry,” 9 to 5 Mac today laid out a very solid outline of what Apple’s new streaming service will look like. The report claims that, after multiple delays, the challenges of folding in Beats Music’s technology have primarily been dealt with, and the service is in its final stages. Major players from the Beats Music team including Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine and Trent Reznor, who helped get the original Beats streaming service off the ground, have reportedly been involved, along with key Apple execs.

The first piece of the puzzle includes deep integration of Beats Music into the Apple infrastructure, which includes folding the service into iTunes, iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod), and the Apple TV, according to the report. That means that all of those with iTunes on any device will soon have a revamped version of the service embedded into the application. The service will have Beats at its bones, but all of the design characteristics will be full-on Apple, transitioning the service to look and feel like iTunes in all iterations.

The service will be cloud based, of course, but like Spotify’s subscription version, users will be able to select at least some of the tracks from the service’s catalog to store on iOS devices and computers for offline listening. The service will also reportedly hold on to many of Beats Music’s most popular features, including curated playlists and mixes, and even the social networking features. Current Beats Music subscribers will also reportedly be able to keep their accounts, moving their profiles and playlists into new or current iTunes accounts.

And for once, Apple isn’t forgetting Android. Those currently jamming out to Beats Music on Android devices will be able to take advantage of a specially engineered new app for Android. While this is a break from Apple’s almost comprehensive segregation of any mobile device crafted outside of the company’s Cupertino compound, it only makes sense to bring in a larger demographic. In other words, if Apple wants its new service to fly, there’s no room to discard the other “half” of the mobile world.

And how about that price? The sources claim that Apple’s recent attempts to negotiate with major music industry players in order to break the $10 per month barrier for music subscriptions services may have paid off. While Apple wasn’t able to land its proposed $5 per month pricing, it is believed that those who switch to Apple’s new service will pay a discounted price of $8 per month. That undercuts virtually every competing service in the genre.

When exactly we will see this new service surface is still up for some debate. The report claims that there have been a large number of problems implementing this grand transition, into which Apple has leveraged a good deal of its cache, as well as multiple hours of blood, sweat, and even some tears, to get a stronger foothold in the modern musical model. The report claims the originally-planned March launch date will likely pass by, but hopes for a launch at the World Wide Developer’s Conference in June was described as a “real possibility.”

Whenever the service rolls out, Apple’s new bid for music streaming dominance will no doubt cause a major shake-up of the current streaming hierarchy.

Still, as Spotify continues to expand into more countries, bringing with it a claimed 15 million paid subscribers and 60 million active users, and even more competition coming from the likes of Pandora and Rdio, breaking out as the most popular and relevant streaming music service in the industry will be no easy task; one that will likely take all the might and clout that a multi-billion dollar company like Apple has in its stockpile.

Next page: The early rumor mill breakdown

Apple music streaming music service: The early rumor mill breakdown

Before Beats Music was stripped apart to fortify the powerful new iTunes subscription streaming service, speculation ran rampant from all over the web as to what exactly the new service would look like. Below is a collection from several different sources which helps to flesh out the path that brought us to Apple’s current goal of taking the streaming marketplace by storm.

Apple cuts the Beats price tag, Beats Music’s low subscriber numbers blamed

When Apple initially set out to bring Beats Electronics, all of its wares, and even co-founders Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine into its massive fold back in May, it was initially reported that the company was offering a whopping $3.2 billion for the full monty.

However, according to a report by the New York Post, leaked numbers about Beats Music subscribers, numbered at a mere 111,000 users at the time, may have caused Apple to reassess and drop the purchase price by $200 million (compare that slim slice to Spotfiy’s 10 million paying users). Whether or not the reason for the drop was due to Beats Music’s lack of popularity specifically, Apple did drop its asking price after due diligence, settling on an even $3 billion.

TechCrunch reports Apple will shutter Beats Music

Fast forward to late September, when a report by TechCrunch stated that Apple had made plans to “discontinue” Beats Music entirely. The report claimed TechCrunch received information from five sources including “prominent employees at Apple and Beats.” Below is a short excerpt from the original article.

“Many engineers from Beats Music have already been moved off the product and onto other projects at Apple, including iTunes. It’s not clear when exactly Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre’s music service will be shut down, or what Apple will do with streaming, but every source with knowledge of the situation that we talked to agreed Apple plans to sunset the Beats Music brand.”

That last line is ambiguous, as the name and the service itself are not necessarily synonymous. The report in general sounded fishy to us for several reasons, not the least of which was a significant update to the third-generation Apple TV just days earlier, parading a prominently displayed Beats Music app as a major facet.

To be fair, however, TechCrunch makes a good point in noting that the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus came sans a Beats Music app pre-installed, much less as a concrete fixture like other Apple products. While certainly not a telltale sign of a shutdown, the omission does lead to speculation about future branding for the service.

Apple officially states Beats Music will not be shut down, but…

In an official response to an inquiry by Re/Code’s Peter Kafka, Apple’s PR rep Tom Neumayr completely denied the TechCrunch report about Beats being shut down, saying simply that the information was “not true.” However, Kafka claims that terse statement was about the extent of the response Re/Code could get out of Neumayr.

Kafka goes on to cite conversations with “people familiar with Apple’s thinking,” which, again, reinforces previous conjecture that Beats Music may not exist under its current branding for long, eventually being folded into Apple’s own weakly-received iTunes Radio streaming service.

The Beats brand, and its popularity with the youth/urban crowd, is thought to have been an integral piece of Apple’s motivation to acquire the company. However, as was pointed out by U.K. news organization The Guardian, while both Apple and Beats’ audio gear draw mass International appeal, Beats Music has yet to move abroad — and isn’t all that popular in its own country, either.

Bono gets mysterioso about collaboration with Apple on a new music format

Just days after the U2/Apple Songs of Innocence debacle at Apple’s September 9 live event, in which millions of iTunes users felt violated by Apple’s under-the-skirt free album giveaway, Bono took to the press to speak about a new music format his iconic band has been working on with Apple.

According to a Rolling Stones article, the new format will involve a new type of downloadable file which users will be unable to pirate. The aging Bono describes the new format as being “an audiovisual interactive format for music that can’t be pirated and will bring back album artwork in the most powerful way…with your iPad or on these big flat screens. You can see photography like you’ve never seen it before.”

While not directly tied into the music service, it does show that Apple is continuing to find new ways to push music downloading, which has seen sharp decreases in profits recently. But, considering the success of Spotify, Pandora, and others, the question as to whether this is a revolution, or a misguided attempt to bolster profits, has to be asked.

If anything, the Bono news underlines a reluctance by Apple to buy into the popular, but not-so-profitable streaming paradigm, and also sheds some doubt on its commitment to streaming services as a whole. Of course, that doesn’t mean the company doesn’t want some skin in the game.

A rose by any other name…

After officially announcing its plans to buy Beats, Apple underlined the importance of the Beats name and its iconic lower-cased ‘b’ logo, by officially stating it would keep the brand intact. However, there was no specific mention of Beats Music. And now that the company is in Tim Cook’s hands, he can likely do as he pleases.

Whether Beats Music will stick around — and in what form — is still unclear, but you can bet your next paycheck Apple didn’t pay $3 billion for the entire Beats family just to throw its million-dollar streaming service out the window. Will Beats and iTunes Radio soon combine to form a supergroup in an effort to combat Spotify and its mighty legion of users? We’ll know soon enough and will continue to follow the story as it develops.

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Ryan Waniata
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Ryan Waniata is a multi-year veteran of the digital media industry, a lover of all things tech, audio, and TV, and a…
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spotify stations app us launch to beat pandora launches in

Spotify might be the streaming music king globally, but in the U.S., it faces massive competition. Pandora remains the leader, and Apple Music is proving impressively capable, especially in its ability to add and retain paid subscribers. In the face of this challenge, Spotify's response involves a series of so-called experiments, including a stand-alone app called Stations, which breaks out one part of the larger Spotify service into its own experience. The Stations app has been available abroad for a while now -- it launched in Australia in 2018 -- but this week it arrives in the U.S. on iOS and Android.

With Stations, both free and premium Spotify subscribers get an app that is tightly focused on getting you listening to music immediately, with as little effort as possible. In fact, all you need to do to start listening is to launch the app. Want a different playlist? Simply tap one of the large, easy-to-see Stations. To get a more personalized experience, indicate your preferences by liking tracks as they play and Stations will build a personal Favorites station. You can also create your own custom stations from scratch by picking a few artists to start, and then adding or removing artists over time. Free users will hear ads and receive limited song skips, while premium subscribers get an ad-free experience and unlimited skips.

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