Reports suggest that users will get a trial period, but when it's over, they'll have to sign up for a subscriptionrumored to cost $8/month. So when Apple does roll out its new streaming music service, don't expect to be able to sit back and enjoy limited functionality for nothing.
If you want free music via Apple, it looks like you'll have to use iTunes Radio, which will remain free.
Now you might be a big streaming music junkie today, but you probably weren't at first. You, like many others, likely made use of the big streaming services' free modes to start off.
And these can come in many different formats. Some services let you listen to whatever you want, but your playlists are interspersed with audio advertising. Other services don't let you create custom playlists, but they do let you listen to songs in a shuffle-like order, as picked by the service itself. Some let you listen to whatever you want on the desktop, but don't let you stream anything to your mobile device (or the mobile device connected to your car stereo) without ponying up a monthly fee.
Having a free service offering makes a lot of sense for a potential subscriber, as it gives you a chance to try a streaming service without having to do anything more than install some software on your PC or an app on your mobile device. You don't have to pony up for a month's subscription just to perform a quick check that, yes, your favorite, obscure Broadway soundtracks are on a particular service.
You can verify that you like a particular service's setup, features, and apps. Heck, you can even sit back and start listening to music immediately if said free service takes care of all your streaming needsand you don't mind advertising.
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Well, the world may not work like that forever.
It's not just Apple's executive team culled from Beats Electronics who are leading the push for paid content. Music industry executives, who might have once been okay with the concept of ad-supported streaming, seem to have changed their minds as of late.
Take Universal Music Group CEO Lucian Grainge, who once said that it was "absolutely bogus" to think that streaming services had any kind of negative impact on music sales at retail stores.
Just last month, Grainge commented that "ad-funded on-demand is not going to sustain the entire ecosystem of the creators as well as the investors."
And he's not the only music executive pushing for paid services over free services.
"The key question is, are the free, ad-supported services taking away from how quickly and to what extent we can grow those paid services? That's something we're paying attention to as content owners who license our content to the different platforms. It's an area that's gotten everyone's attention," said Sony Music CFO Kevin Kelleher, shortly after musician Taylor Swift decided to pull her albums from Spotify.
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