Apple Music Overview Updated September 8, 2021

Apple Music: Features, Devices, Pricing, Lossless, and more

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April 2015 - September 2021

Apple Music is the company’s music streaming subscription-based service that was released on June 30 of 2015 in 100 countries. Apple Music has over 75 million songs in its catalog and offers the ability to download your favorite tracks and play them offline.

With the possibility of listening across all your favorite devices, Apple Music offers new music personalized for every user, curated playlists from Apple’s editors, exclusive Radio, video clips, and original content. Recently, the company introduced a HiFi quality for the service up to 24 bits at 192 kHz.

Here’s everything you need to know about Apple Music.

Everything about Apple Music

How and where can I listen to Apple Music?

apple music student

Apple Music is available on a variety of devices: iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, Mac, HomePod, CarPlay, PC, Android, Sonos, Amazon Echo, Samsung Smart TV, Google Nest, and the web.

To be more specific, the service needs at least iOS 10 and watchOS 2.2 to run on your Apple devices. Here are the devices available:

  • iPhone 5, 5C, SE (1st generation) or newer;
  • iPod touch (6th generation) or newer;
  • iPad (4th generation), iPad mini 2, iPad Air (1st generation), iPad Pro (1st generation) or newer;
  • Apple Watch (all)
  • Apple TV (4th generation) or newer;
  • Samsung Smart TVs from 2018 or newer.

It’s also possible to listen to it on your browser, just type A subscription is required.

How much does Apple Music cost? Does it have a family plan? What about a student one?

The Apple Music free trial for students

Apple Music is a subscription-based service and it doesn’t have a free tier like Spotify, although you can try it for free for three months. As for now, the service has three subscription tiers. Here they are:

  • Student: $4.99/month;
  • Individual: $9.99/month;
  • Family: $14.99/month.

With a subscription, you can:

  • Listen to over 75 million songs, plus your entire iTunes library;
  • Enjoy songs in Dolby Atmos, Lossless, and Hi-Res Lossless at no extra cost;
  • Listen online or offline;
  • Stream ad-free music and music videos;
  • Download 100,000 songs to your library;
  • Access across your devices;
  • See what your friends are listening to;
  • Original shows, concerts, and exclusives;
  • Live and on-demand radio stations hosted by artists.

A family subscription offers:

  • Access for up to six people;
  • A personal account for each family member;
  • Share your existing music library however you want.

Individual and student subscriptions have the same benefits. To apply for a student subscription, you just need to verify your college credentials with UNiDAYS every year while you’re studying.

Apple Music is available on all Apple One bundles as well. Learn more here.

Is Apple Music the same as iTunes?

This is sort of true because, in macOS Catalina, Apple killed iTunes. The Music app is where you can find all your songs, bought on the iTunes Store, ripped from a CD, or downloaded via Apple Music.

iTunes Match

Before Apple Music, there was iTunes Match. The service uploaded your music library from the Apple Music app on your Mac or iTunes for Windows on your PC. Then you could access your music library on all of your devices that have Sync Library turned on.

Since Apple introduced its music service, the company encourages users to subscribe to the service, since you get all of the benefits of iTunes Match, plus access to the entire Music catalog.

Apple Digital Masters

Since Apple Music launched, Apple offers most of its catalog over the Apple Digital Masters label. With the AAC format over MP3, the company says the Advanced Audio Coding achieves the portability and convenience of compressed and encoded digital audio while retaining the audio quality that’s indistinguishable from much larger digital files.

With Apple Digital Masters, artists can offer higher-quality tunes. Taylor Swift, Paul McCartney, Billie Eilish, and Sigrid, for example, offer their catalog with this label.

Starting June 2021, Apple released Apple Music HiFi or Lossless, with much greater quality, although a wired headphone is required.

Apple Music HiFi: Lossless, Hi-Res Lossless, Dolby Atmos with Spatial Audio

In May of 2021, Apple announced it was bringing lossless music quality options to its entire catalog at no extra cost, starting in June. Apple says lossless quality will be available for more than 75 million tracks in the Apple Music library by the end of 2021.

It’s also launching support for Spatial Audio music with songs authored in Dolby Atmos. Users are able to listen to select albums with an immersive 3D sound-space on AirPodsAirPods ProAirPods Max and Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip. Apple says thousands of Dolby Atmos songs will go live in June.

What headphones will be compatible with Apple Music Lossless and Dolby Atmos support with Spatial Audio?

Apple says Dolby Atmos is supported by iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV using any pair of headphones. This includes AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, BeatsX, Beats Solo3 Wireless, Beats Studio3, Powerbeats3 Wireless, Beats Flex, Powerbeats Pro, and Beats Solo Pro, but there are a few differences.

For example, no Bluetooth headphones will offer Lossless quality. Apple says that AirPods Max with a wired connection can offer a similar sound to Lossless, but to stream Hi-Res Lossless quality at 24 bit at 192 kHz it will require another headphone with external DAC.

One of the features coming to iOS 15 for AirPods Pro and AirPods Max is “Spatialize Stereo,” which uses head-tracking for an immersive sound experience. 

How to activate Apple Music Lossless

Once the feature is available with iOS 14.6, follow these steps:

  • Go to Settings, then Music
  • Click on Audio and set Dolby Atmos to Always On

To listen to between Lossless and Hi-Res Lossless:

  • Go to Settings, then Music
  • Click on Audio Quality and choose between Lossless and Hi-Res Lossless for cellular or Wi-Fi connections

How many songs are available in Lossless?

According to Apple, 20 million songs are available in lossless audio at launch with the full 75 million songs available by the end of the year.

How much data does Lossless use?

  • Lossless audio files will use significantly more space on your device. 10GB of space could store approximately: 3,000 songs at high-quality AAC, 1,000 songs with Lossless, and 200 songs with Hi-Res Lossless;
  • Lossless streaming will consume significantly more data. A 3-minute song will be approximate: 1.5MB with high efficiency, 6MB with high-quality at 256 kbps, 36MB with Lossless at 24-bit/48 kHz, and 145MB with Hi-Res Lossless at 24-bit/192 kHz. Support varies and depends on song availability, network conditions, and connected speaker or headphone capability.

What is Dolby Atmos and Lossless audio?

Dolby Atmos is an immersive audio format that enables musicians to mix music so it sounds like the instruments are all around you in space.

Lossless audio compression reduces the original file size of a song while preserving all of the data. Apple Music is making its entire catalog of more than 75 million songs available in lossless audio at different resolutions in Apple Music, “Lossless” refers to lossless audio up to 48kHz, and “Hi-Res Lossless” refers to lossless audio from 48kHz to 192kHz. Lossless and Hi-Res Lossless files are very large and use much more bandwidth and storage space than standard AAC files.

Will HomePod stream in Lossless?

HomePod mini deal

HomePod and HomePod mini don’t support Lossless just yet. According to Apple, both devices will receive a software update in the future to support Lossless natively.

HomePod and HomePod mini currently use AAC to ensure excellent audio quality. Support for lossless is coming in a future software update.

As for now, there’s a workaround for HomePod to play Lossless tracks, although Apple must tweak something by its side to provide the full experience.

With HomePod Software 15 beta, some users are able to play Lossless songs with the smart speaker, which can indicate that Apple is readying support when the company releases iOS 15 later in September.

Both the original HomePod and the mini model will support Lossless audio quality. If you’re running iOS 15 and HomePod beta on your smart speaker, follow these steps:

  • Open the Home app
  • Click in the Home icon on the top left corner
  • Choose “Home Settings” then click on your profile
  • In “Media,” click on the “Apple Music” tab
  • Toggle on “Lossless Audio”,

How to find songs with Lossless and Dolby Atmos labels?

Apple Music is highlighting content that’s available in Spatial Audio in the Listen Now, Browse, and Search tabs

  • In the Browse tab, check out all playlists made up of all Spatial Audio music like Hits, Hip-Hop, Pop, Country, Rock, and Jazz
    • There are also sections for “New Music in Spatial Audio” and “The Best of Spatial Audio”
  • In the Search tab, there’s a new Spatial Audio category in the top left
    • Apple Music is using this as a hub for all the Dolby Atmos Spatial Audio content including videos, music, tutorials, featured albums, new content, and more
  • If you want to see if a specific album or song is available in Spatial Audio, pull it up in Apple Music
    • Underneath the album artwork and play button, look for “Dolby Atmos” 
    • You can also quickly tell if a track is playing in Spatial Audio by:
  • Looking just above the play/pause button in the Music app when looking at the song (shown in the top image above)
    • Or opening Control Center (swipe down from the top right corner) and long press on the headphones icon > look for Spatial Audio playing in the bottom right and Dolby Atmos below the volume slider.

You can find the full how-to here.

Apple Music Replay playlist

Apple Music has a Replay playlist of your most played songs of each year all the way from 2015 when the service launched.

The feature doesn’t have much, but by the end of every year, you can enter the Replay website here and see how much you listened to your favorite artists, your top 100 songs, and play counts for your top albums.

With iOS 14, by the end of the “Listen Now” tab, you can find all your Replay playlists as well.

Apple Music vs. Spotify

The main Apple Music competitor is Spotify. They’re both very similar. While AM is a better choice for those who already have a long-time iTunes catalog purchased, Spotify is the key music service if you love recommendations and algorithm-curated playlists.

With Spotify recently announcing it’s going to raise its prices, Music becomes a solid choice if you bundle it with Apple One. In 9to5Mac review post about the two services, José Adorno noted:

Starting with Apple One, I think is more convenient to pay one subscription for a lot of services rather than paying only Spotify for one service. With the Apple One Family plan, I have 200GB of iCloud storage, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and Apple Music, and I can share all of these services with my family. For $19.95 a month, I have way more benefits instead of paying $9.99 per month for Spotify individual plan or $16.99 for a family subscription that only includes the music service.

Read more:

Apple Music walkthrough

As on iOS 15, Apple Music has five tabs on the iPhone. In this guide, I’ll explain what each tab does. There’s also your Profile on the app.

Listen Now

“Listen Now” is a section based on your favorite picks. It shows your recently played songs, what your friends are listening to, and stations and mixes just for you. At the end of the page, you can find the Replay section with your top songs by each year.

iOS 15 introduces a new “Shared With You” section where you can find songs your friends shared via iMessage. When you click on their names, you can reply to the message.


The “Browse” section is curated by Apple editors. You can find the most listened-to songs everywhere, new releases, what’s trending, exclusive playlists, Spatial Audio songs, the Daily Top 100, and what’s coming soon.

With iOS 14.5, Apple introduced its City Charts, a bunch of playlists with the Top 25 songs of over 100 cities around the world. It’s updated daily. You can learn more about it here.


Apple Music Radio is the rebrand of Beats 1. Introduced in 2020, it offers shows, interviews, and everything else you expect from a radio. Apple Music Hits and Country are people’s favorite stations.

“Apple Music is home — it’s home to artists, it’s home to fans, and it’s home to incredible music,” said Zane Lowe, Apple Music’s global creative director, and host. “I’m an obsessive music nerd. I love searching for the most exciting new artists and playing them right alongside the most essential, established artists of our time because great music does not know the difference and the service’s fans just want to hear great music.”


The “Library” section is where you find your added songs. You can opt to listen to them online or offline. The offline songs are also available in the “Downloaded” tab.

You can edit the section to appear just the tabs you really use, such as “Playlists,” “Artists,” “Albums,” and “Songs,” while toggling of “Genres,” “Compilations,” and others.

You can search on Apple Music and in your library. You can also browse categories or write a part of a lyric to find the song.

Now Playing

The Now Playing screen shows the song, album, or playlist you’re listening to. You can enjoy the “lyrics view”, AirPlay your song using your speaker, Apple TV, Smart TV, wireless headphones, and see what will play next. In this section you can “Shuffle,” turn “Repeat” on, and toggle the “Infinite” button, to keep playing similar songs after a playlist or album is over.

In the “Now Playing” section, you can also share the song or the lyrics on Instagram and other social media platforms, and let Apple Music know if you love the song or want the service to suggest less like this.

With iOS 15, you get a small label above the play/pause button indicating whether the song is streaming in Lossless, Hi-Res Lossless, or Dolby Atmos.


At the top of the “Listen Now” section, there’s your Profile. You have to click on your photo, then “View Profile.” In this section, there are your public playlists, what you recently listened to, and who you follow, and who follows you.

The social part was never Apple’s strong move. These public playlists you can share with everyone and you can see who adds your list to their own library, which is nice. But apart from that and the possibility to know what your friends are listening to, there’s not much to do here.

Apple Music Primephonic

By the end of August of 2021, Apple announced it was acquiring the music streaming service Primephonic. The company plans to integrate “Primephonic playlists and exclusive audio content” into Apple Music. According to the announcement, users will also find “better browsing and search capabilities by composer and by repertoire, detailed displays of classical music metadata, plus new features and benefits.”

Apple Music plans to launch a dedicated classical music app next year combining Primephonic’s classical user interface that fans have grown to love with more added features. In the meantime, current Primephonic subscribers will receive six months of Apple Music for free, providing access to hundreds of thousands of classical albums, all in Lossless and high-resolution audio, as well as hundreds of classical albums in Apple Music’s Spatial Audio, with new albums added regularly.

Learn more about this here.


Apple Music already offers three months for free for new users, but every now and then the service adds a deal to attract users.

This time, if you’re in the military or a veteran, there’s a special offer where you can get four months of subscription for free. If this is the case for you, there are only a few steps you need to follow.

The offer can be accessed through this link, which will redirect you to an authentication webpage on Apple’s website. To get a special code that provides up to four months free of Apple Music, all you need to do is log in with an account. However, even if you’re already an Apple Music subscriber, you can get an extra month of subscription for free through the same page.

Apple Music Awards

Apple Music Awards honor achievements in music across five distinct categories and winners are chosen through a process that reflects both Apple’s editorial perspective and what customers around the world are loving most. The award recognizes the best and boldest musicians of the year.

Apple has designed a series of physical awards that represent the extraordinary craftsmanship integral to creating music. Each award features Apple’s custom silicon wafer suspended between a polished sheet of glass and a machined and anodized aluminum body. The result of this multi-month process, before it is sliced into hundreds of individual chips, is stunning and distinctive. In a symbolic gesture, the same chips which power the devices that put the world’s music at your fingertips sit at the very heart of the Apple Music Awards.

Here are the categories and which artist had won in each one of them:

  • Artist of the Year: Lil Baby (2020) and Billie Eilish (2019);
  • Breakthrough Artist of the Year: Megan Thee Stallion (2020) and Lizzo (2019);
  • Songwriter of the Year: Taylor Swift (2020) and Billie Eilish and Finneas (2019);
  • Top Song of the Year: “The Box” by Roddy Ricch (2020) and “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X (2019);
  • Top Album of the Year: “Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial” by Roddy Ricch (2020) and “WHEN WE FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?” by Billie Eilish (2019).

As for now, Billie Eilish is the artist with more Music Awards with three awards from 2019 as “Artist of the Year,” “Songwriter of the Year,” and “Top Album of the Year,” followed by Roddy Ricch with two awards in 2019.

Apple Music for Artists

In 2021, Apple revamped Apple Music for Artists webpage. According to the company, the new webpage (available at is the new “centralized home” for artists to find the tools and information on how to get their music ready for Apple’s streaming platform.

Through the new “Create” tab, artists can get some helpful tips on how to use Apple’s devices and apps to compose a song. The company highlights things like the Voice Memos app, GarageBand, and Logic Pro with third-party plugins. Apple also encourages artists to edit music videos with Final Cut Pro and content for social networks with the Clips app.

The webpage also has a “Release” menu that provides in-depth details about the process of releasing songs on Apple Music, which includes finding a trusted distributor, choosing a good image for the artist page, and uploading lyrics to the songs.

Artists can also share Milestones with fans. This new feature lets artists share an achievement on Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram Stories.

Share your big moments right from the Apple Music for Artists iOS app. With just a few taps you can let your fans know about new playlists featuring your songs, how many Shazams you have in a given country or region, and other notable milestones you’ve hit on Apple Music.

Learn more about it here.

Apple Music Stories September 10

There will be a lot more Apple Music DJ mixes available on the streaming service, thanks to the Cupertino company’s use of Shazam technology.

Dance mixes have always been a nightmare for any company wanting to broadcast or stream them…

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Apple Music Stories September 9

Over the past few days, Apple Music users have been complaining that they are seemingly no longer able to share songs on Instagram Stories. Here’s the fix for this bug.

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Apple Music Stories September 5

Drake breaks Kanye’s ‘Donda’ one-day streaming record on Apple Music

Three days after Kanye West broke Apple Music’s day-one streams record with Donda, Drake surpassed the 60 million US stream mark with Certified Lover Boy.

Apple Music Stories August 31

‘Donda’ is here, and Kanye West broke another record on Apple Music with day-one streams

After three live-stream listening parties of Donda on Apple Music and Kanye West breaking multiple live-stream records on the platform, the artist now broke the 2021 Apple Music record with 60 million first-day US streams.

Apple Music Stories August 30

Apple Music will soon upgrade the streaming experience for fans of the classical music genre after acquiring a service called Primephonic. Plans to bolster classical music offerings in Apple Music will include a standalone app from Apple dedicated specifically to the genre.

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Apple Music Stories August 18

Kanye West and Apple Music are teaming up for a third exclusive livestream on Apple Music next week. According to a new report from Variety, Kanye is holding a third public listening session for his unreleased Donda album, and it will be exclusively live streamed on Apple Music.

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Apple Music Stories August 12

Kanye West breaks Apple Music livestream record again thanks to ‘Donda’ hype

Kanye West has broken another Apple Music livestream record. This time, Billboard reports that 5.4 million people tuned in to last week’s exclusive Apple Music livestream of the Donda creation process.

Apple teams up with Billie Eilish to promote Spatial Audio on Apple Music

Billie Eilish has partnered with Apple several times over the years to promote her songs on Apple Music. Although the 19-year-old singer also teams up with Spotify on occasion, she’s now promoting her latest album, Happier Than Ever, on Apple’s platform.

Apple Music Stories August 5

In June, Apple Music for Artists webpage was redesigned with more details about Spatial Audio. Now, it’s adding a new Milestones feature so singers can share with fans their achievements. The new Milestones feature lets artists share an achievement on Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram Stories.

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Before Apple Music, there was iTunes Match. The service uploads your music library from the Music app on your Mac or iTunes for Windows on your PC. Then you can access your music library on all of your devices that have Sync Library turned on.

The problem is, although many people migrated to Apple Music, which can do the same, other users preferred to pay $24.99 a year to remain uploading their own music library with iCloud, but now users are reporting an array of problems with iTunes Match.

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Apple Music and Kanye West team up for exclusive livestream of ‘Donda’ creation

Following the record-setting live stream of the listening event for Kanye West’s upcoming album Donda last month, Apple Music and Kanye are teaming up for another exclusive live stream. This time, you can live stream Kanye as he puts the finishing touches on the album… but the stream doesn’t have any sound.

Apple Music Stories July 30

Giles Martin, son of Beatles’s producer Sir George Martin, has sat down for an interview with Rolling Stone talked about Apple Music’s Spatial Audio feature. Martin, who is responsible for the Dolby Atmos mixes of the two albums, explains why Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band doesn’t “sound quite right” in Dolby Atmos while Abbey Road does.

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Apple Music Stories July 28

Spotify profitability is still not a priority for the company, claims the streaming music service, as it announced another loss-making quarter.

The company lost €20M ($24M) in the second quarter of the year, and also failed to hit its own growth targets, but there was some good news in the mix …

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Apple Music Stories July 26

Apple Music and Kanye West teamed up last week to offer an exclusive livestream of the listening event for West’s upcoming album Donda. The event was streamed exclusively on Apple Music from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, and it is said to have broken the record for an Apple Music livestream.

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Apple Music Stories July 22

Apple Music Spatial and Lossless Audio, automatic crossfade now widely rolled out on Android

Alongside WWDC 2021, Apple rolled out a bunch of features for its Music streaming service. The Lossless and Spatial Audio update, as well as other enhancements, are now available for Apple Music on Android.

In an update to a support document today, Apple has clarified which of its devices feature support for Spatial Audio playback in Apple Music. While Apple had once said that older devices such as the iPhone XR and iPad Air 3 supported Spatial Audio in Apple Music, that appears to not be the case after all.

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Apple Music Stories July 19

A month ago, Apple released Lossless and Dolby Atmos with Spatial Audio support for Apple Music subscribers on iOS 14.6. The problem was that subscribers in India couldn’t find the option. This is changing now, as Apple had promised would be the case.

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Apple Music Stories July 15

Apple has expressed caution about a proposal to increase the share of streaming music revenue paid to artists from the current typical 16% to a far higher 50% rate.

The British government has proposed a “complete reset” of the business model for streaming music, so that artists and songwriters are better compensated …

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Apple Music Stories July 14

Update: After Apple released today’s build 19J5304e of HomePod Software 15, it appears that the Lossless Audio quality toggle is gone. For a brief moment on the previous build, a few users were able to use the smart speaker with this higher-quality but it seems like Apple has removed it for now.

Apple today released HomePod Software 15 beta 3 for the HomePod mini and HomePod, and it appears the update brings support for Lossless streaming in Apple Music. This comes as Apple promised support in a future software update…

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Apple Music Stories July 13

Even though the Fourth of July celebrations have already passed, there are still some related offers available out there. This time, Apple is offering up to four free months of Apple Music subscription to US military and veterans who have never subscribed to the service before.

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Apple Music Stories July 9

This Week on Apple Music launches with bite-sized video recaps

A new video series on Apple Music has debuted to help you keep on top of the “latest and greatest in music,” snippets from notable artist interviews, and more.

Apple Music Stories June 30

Over the last two months, Spotify has dabbled with in-app paid virtual concerts. Now a new report from The Information says that the streaming service is exploring not only getting further into virtual events but possibly live events as well. If successful, the potential move could mean another revenue source for Spotify, improved artist relationships, and a way to differentiate itself from Apple Music.

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Apple Music Stories June 22

When Apple announced that it was bringing lossless music and Spatial Audio to Apple Music, it majored on the latter and mentioned lossless almost in passing. That struck me at the time as the wrong way around, but listening to Spatial Audio tracks has changed my mind.

Spatial Audio – aka Dolby Atmos – had obvious appeal for movies, but with the possible exception of recordings of live performances, I couldn’t see much point in it for music …

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Apple Music Stories June 21

Apple is set to launch iOS 15 this fall. Unlike other years, Apple Music didn’t receive a redesign or a handful of new tweaks on its app with this new version of the iPhone operating system. However, Apple is creating broader integration with the Music app on iOS 15. Here’s what’s new.

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