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13 key questions about Apple Music (+video)

Apple unveiled Apple Music at WWDC 2015. How does this new music streaming service work?

What is Apple Music?

On Monday, at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple announced, among other things, that it will launch a subscription-based music streaming service called Apple Music. In addition to being able to stream the iTunes Library (not all of it, but we’ll talk about that below), subscribers would be able to follow their favorite artists in a social media platform called Connect. Apple also highlighted an improved iTunes Radio, as well as Beats 1, a 24/7 online radio station that will be integrated into Apple Music.

The Beats Music service, which Apple acquired along with the rest of Beats Electronics back in 2014, will be phased out and integrated into this multi-platform music service.

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When can I try it out?

Apple Music is set to start accepting users on June 30. For now, Apple Music will only be available for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac, and PC, with access for Apple TV and Android to be unveiled Fall 2015.

How will it work?

According to Apple, the service will be subscription based. Apple Music syncs with your iTunes purchases and integrates with iTunes Match, so you would be able to listen to your music anywhere. The service also tries to learn each person's listening habits in order to recommend new music, as well as offering a series of curated playlists and radio stations. So far, Rolling Stone, XXL Magazine, and Pitchfork have signed on as curators, as well as several other leading voices in the music industry.

How large is the Apple Music’s catalog?

30 million songs.

How big is Spotify’s?

The same, basically.

And Tidal and Rdio?

Also about the same. Tidal has a bit fewer songs and Rdio has a bit more, but all four of these music streaming services advertise around 30 million songs.

Do they all have the same songs?

Not quite. While there’s sure to be a lot of overlap, some labels haven’t signed on to some of the services, or have established exclusive deals. Still others have pulled their music from services, often arguing that cheap streaming services have a negative impact on the music industry. Many musicians believe that streaming services are financially detrimental to artists, who do not receive as much money from streamed plays as from album sales, while others feel the opposite.

You said 30 million in the Apple Music catalog. But the iTunes library has more than 40 million songs. What’s the deal?

Apple hopes there will be a deal. It is still in licensing talks to complete the Apple Music library and include some big names and independent acts.

Will Apple Music have the Beatles?

No.

Will it have Taylor Swift?

Yes, including her latest album, "1989," which she had at one point withheld.

Didn’t Apple already do something like Connect?

Yes, this isn’t the first time that Apple unveiled a social media platform that dovetailed with iTunes. In 2010, Apple launched Ping, which was shut down two years later. Some believe that Connect has the star power to avoid the same fate, with artists, such as Drake, announcing new albums through the service.

What happens to my Beats Music account?

It will still be there – well, sort of. It will be integrated with Apple Music. In fact, many of the features in Apple Music migrated over from Beats Music, such as its predictive radio option.

Much of this venture can be linked back to Apple’s acquisition of Beats Music last year. Beats founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre signed on with Apple and are two of the people heading up Apple Music.

How much does Apple Music cost?

It will cost $9.99 a month for a single user, with a family plan of up to six users for $14.99 a month. Apple announced on Monday that the first three months will be free for users.

[Editor's Note: This post has been updated to reflect Taylor Swift's decision to pull and then return her latest album to Apple's streaming service.]

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