The honeymoon period is over — everything looks rosy for a day after Apple’s WWDC keynote, and then the asterisks start slipping in. Here’s one big caveat that puts Apple’s new streaming music service on more equal footing with the likes of Spotify, Rdio, and Pandora — reportedly, not everything on sale in iTunes Music will be available on-demand in Apple Music.
iTunes will be integrated into Apple Music, bringing the music you’ve purchased into your library along with anything available on-demand, much like what Spotify allows you to do with any music files you have in your personal collection. According to a Bloomberg report, that doesn’t mean that everything for sale on iTunes will be available on-demand if you subscribe to Apple Music. The most notable (and unsurprising example) is the Beatles — just getting their music in digital form and on iTunes was considered a coup in 2010, and since then the band’s music has still not come to any streaming music service. For now, that won’t change, although there’s little doubt that Apple and their new industry insiders — Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre, who came with the Beats acquisition — are hard at work trying to get a deal done.
There are likely other discrepancies between the iTunes library and the eventual Apple Music library when it launches later this summer. The Bloomberg report suggests that Apple Music will land around 30 million songs, around the same as what Spotify offers. That will include Taylor Swift, who infamously pulled her music from Spotify late last year — Swift’s gripe was about Spotify’s free, ad-supported on-demand tier, something Apple Music doesn’t offer.
This is all in a constant state of flux, and we can and should expect Apple Music, Spotify, and others to land their share of exclusive music, video, and interviews down the line. What is clear, at least from the outset, is that Apple Music’s greatest advantage over the competition isn’t the size of its library or the quality of its service, but that it will be the native music streaming app on iOS devices — unfortunately for everyone else, that’s become a fearsome advantage.