The keynote address at Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference (or #WWDC15 for industry heads), delivered Monday afternoon, was — as such techno-sermons always are — padded with lofty promises of revolution and disruption. We waited, often with the conference stream prattling on in another tab, about programs bearing sleek-sounding names, through to its bitter end to learn about the buzziest announcement: the new Apple Music subscription service.
Like the disparaged TIDAL rollout, so much of the rhetoric was about prizing the art itself. And as big tech is both wont and able to do, the debut was made if not legitimate, then at least entertaining by celebrity. Drake ambled onstage in a vintage Apple varsity jacket (he has one for every occasion) and gave some flaccid endorsement about how Apple Music can help upstarts. There were hopeful-sounding videos featuring Trent Reznor and ex-BBC radio host Zane Lowe. Then, The Weeknd wrapped up the whole song and dance with a literal song and dance. (Kanye, it seems, was not saving Swish for just this moment).
Each speaker underlined the idea of a one-stop music shop; that Apple Music, whatever it is, could replace the multiple music services (think YouTube, Spotify, Bandcamp, etc.) that we've come to rely on. Sounds like a nice dream, but, let's be real. We're not developers and we're certainly not shareholders. So what does the arrival of Apple Music mean for the music consumer? No jargon, no platitudes — everything we learned about Apple Music can be boiled down to just 6 bullet points:
- on-demand streams of all music in the iTunes store
- an extensive collection of curated playlists
- access to ad-free music videos
- a 24/7 global radio station called Beats1, hosted by Lowe, Ebro Darden, and Julie Adenuga
- Connect, an online community space for artists (both established and emerging) to interact and share content with their audience
- $9.99 monthly subscription fee, $14.99 for a family (up to 6) membership, and first 3 months will be free
We just saved you two achingly boring hours. You're welcome.