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Apple and Beats Music: What you need to know

Christopher Breen | May 30, 2014
Apple recently announced that it was acquiring Beats Electronics and Beats Music, the companies known for popular and stylish headphones and an up-and-coming music subscription service. Here are some of the important details of the deal.

What makes Beats Music different from other music subscription services?

Beats Music focuses a great deal on music curation. Rather than depending largely on algorithmic music discovery--where music recommendations are made based on the kind of music you've listened to in the past or have in your device's music library--Beats helps you discover music via playlists created by people who know particular genres inside and out. If you want to explore jazz, for example, you can be sure to find hundreds of playlists that will help you on your way.

That doesn't mean that Beats has abandoned algorithms altogether. The service will still offer suggestions based on artists you like, music you've listened to, and a mood-based discovery system called The Sentence. You can also search the service by artist, album, and track.

How many subscribers does Beats Music currently have?

Around 250,000. In comparison, Spotify (which, unlike Beats, is available internationally) has over 10 million paying subscribers.

So the Beats Music service is available only in the US?

Currently, yes.

How many tracks does Beats offer for streaming?

Around 20 million.

What does it cost to subscribe to Beats Music?

Individual subscriptions cost $10 a month and allow you to stream to up to three devices. If you're an AT&T customer you can purchase a family plan for $15 a month, which allows up to five people to stream music on up to 10 devices. You can try the service for free for two weeks.

Can I download music from Beats?

Yes. It, like other subscription services, allows you to download tracks for offline play.

Which devices work with Beats?

Computers using a compatible Web browser (Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer), compatible iOS devices (iPhone 4 and later, iPad 3 and later, iPod touch 4th generation and later) running iOS 6 or later, Android devices running Android 4.03 or later, and Windows Phone devices. It's also supported on Sonos multi-room music systems. It's not currently available on the Apple TV, though it seems likely that will change at some point.

What's the audio quality like?

Through your Web browser Beats streams the majority of its tracks as 320 kbps MP3 files. A minority that aren't available at that bit rate are streamed at 256 kbps. On mobile devices the standard audio quality is 64 kbps HE-AAC. You can choose instead to stream at a higher quality of 320 kbps MP3. The point of using lower-quality (and therefore, smaller) files is to help you stay within your data plan when streaming over a cellular connection.

 

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