By now you’ve probably heard about Apple Music, the splashy service that’s equal parts global radio station, music store, quasi–social network, and streaming audio service.
Apple took an everything-including-the-kitchen-sink approach to the service, which makes it feature rich, but a bit confusing to use.
Still, we think parents will find a lot to like about Apple Music. In particular:
Beats 1 Radio is pretty cool – no explicit language, and it’s free
Apple calls Beats 1 “live global radio,” while Rolling Stone calls it “the heart of the service.”
It’s a bit like a Sirius XM station. Beats 1 broadcasts 24/7 to over 100 countries from studios in LA, New York, and London. It’s a single station playing the same programming to everyone who’s tuned in.
I was prepared to be cynical about Beats 1, but I have to admit – it’s fun. A team of talented DJs play a mix of “the latest and best in music,” along with interviews, guest hosts, and the most recent news in the world of music. As you would expect of a 24/7 service, there’s a ton of programming in Beats 1, which you can read more about here.
If you’re worried that becoming a parent has dulled your edge when it comes to music, Beats 1 will help you feel fresh again. If nothing else, it’ll make your minivan sound cooler than everyone else playing the Frozen radio station on the block.
Bonus for parents: Beats 1 songs are clean – while lyrics may be racy (as most pop songs are), there aren’t any swears or explicit language.
Revamped Curated Stations
If you liked the old iTunes radio stations, never fear: they’re still part of Apple Music.
When you’re focused on raising a family, it’s easy to let your taste in music stagnate. Before you know it, “old favorites” become “tired oldies.”
TechCrunch writes that “Apple Music is for more casual listeners who need help with discovery” than other services like Spotify. That sounds pretty useful for most parents. There are many music discovery elements in Apple Music:
- Beats 1 radio
- Curated playlists for different activities and from music experts, similar to how the Beats app used to work
- “For You” personalized suggestions based on the music you say you like
- Suggestions based on your existing iTunes collection
- New releases and top charts
- Pandora-style radio stations powered algorithms, based on artists or genres of your selection
- Tunes posted by Artists in “Connect.”
About Your Existing Music
All your existing music, whether purchased in the iTunes Store, ripped a CD, or downloaded from some other service lives in Apple Music. You get online access to personal music libraries. Songs you own that can’t be matched with content on Apple servers is uploaded to iCloud and your music library.
Some of Apple Music’s best features are free:
- Listen to Apple Music radio stations
- Listen to Beats 1 radio station
- Follow artists on Connect
- View artist feed on Connect
Like most other streaming music services, the premium features of Apple Music costs $9.99 per month. These features include:
- Enjoy unlimited listening from the Apple Music library
- Play and save Connect content
- Like Connect content or radio songs
- Add Apple Music content to your Library
- Save for offline listening
- Get expert music recommendations
Apple offers a Family Membership, which is a good value: for $14.99 up to six people can get unlimited access to Apple Music on their devices.
Everyone starts with a free, three-month trial membership with full access to Apple Music.
How to Get Apple Music
- Get Apple Music on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch by upgrading to iOS 8.4 (Go to Settings > General > Software Update on your device)
- Get Apple Music on your Mac by upgrading iTunes to 12.2 in the Mac App Store.
Should You Switch From Spotify, Pandora, Rdio, etc?
Our team at Parent Co is equally divided between Spotify and Rdio users. In fact, we’ve curated family-friendly playlists of awesome music on Rdio. (I love the simplicity of Rdio – it’s still my fav streaming service.)
None of us are canceling our subscriptions to those services yet. We’ll try Apple Music in earnest for the next 3 months (since it’s free for three months.) It’ll be interesting to see if any of us switch fully over after that time.
For reference, The Verge has posted a comparison of streaming music services.
Apple Music is a bit confusing because it has so many features. Here are some guides to make it easier to understand: