Barring a freak announcement from Neil Young or YouTube, Beats Music will be the first of the big three (at least) music services launching in 2014, all three having pushed back launches from 2013.
Beats Music, led by a crew of music industry veterans (including Jimmy Iovine, Trent Reznor, Luke Wood, and Ian Rogers), will start offering its music subscription on January 21, with apps for Android, iOS, and Windows smartphones, and the web.
The splash page describes Beats Music as “a new music service that combines the power of human curation with technology to always deliver the right music to you at the right time.”
Here’s a roundup of details about this as-yet-unreleased music service:
- There’s been plenty of speculation about how Beats Music will recommend music, because that’s its major value proposition, according to its founders. When you open the app, it asks for your three favorite genres, to help get things started with its recommendation algorithm. Later, listeners can manually add specific artists or genres to their profiles, or like/dislike songs to shape recommendations.
- The user’s music preferences feed into a Right Now feature that also incorporates the user’s location, who they are with, what they are doing, and/or their mood.
- Beats said it will pay the same royalty rate to indie musicians that it does to major labels, responding to criticism directed at its competitors who offer uneven deals or equity to the biggest labels, but declined to share details on those rates or whether Beats paid advances to the majors.
- There’s no ongoing free version; it will cost $10 per month after a free trial, just like similar offerings from Google, Microsoft, Rhapsody, Rdio, Sony, and Spotify, unless you have AT&T’s wireless service for your smartphone, in which case you can pay $15/month for a family plan that lets each person have their own Beats Music account (up to five), with an extended 90-day free trial.
- The apps will cache music for offline playback.
- Sonos will add Beats Music to its wide selection of music apps for the home on launch day, January 21.
- Beats Music plans to appear on the Ellen DeGeneres show and offer free trial bundles with Beats Electronics products.
Stay tuned for more on Beats Music in the days to come.