Even if you hate the design and navigation, one thing has been clear since Apple released its Music streaming service to the world at WWDC 2015: it has the best introductory offer in the business. But like all good things, it looks like that might be coming to an end.
Several outlets have spotted that Apple’s website in Australia, Spain, and Switzerland is now showing that new Apple Music subscriptions will cost a buck rather than nothing. New customers still get the same three months of music, but now their iTunes accounts will be charged 99 cents, euros, and francs, respectively.
It’s unclear why Apple has begun charging a fee for its trial run—or whether it will reach other territories like the United States—but it’s not uncommon for music services to attach small amounts for long-term testing period. For example, Spotify also charges 99 cents for a three-month trial.
When Apple Music landed back in June 2015, its free offer was a source of some controversy. On the eve of the launch, pop superstar Taylor Swift announced that she would be withholding her latest mega hit, 1989, since Apple wasn’t planning on paying royalties during the three-month trial period. She called the move “shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company,” and urged Apple to “change this policy and change the minds of those in the music industry who will be deeply and gravely affected by this.”
The decision was quickly reversed and Swift has been a large presence on Apple Music, contributing an exclusive concert video and appearing in one of the early ads for the service.
Even without a permanent free tier, however, Apple Music has been steadily gaining on market-leader Spotify’s sizable lead. After announcing it had crossed the 20 million milestone in December, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue recently revealed that the service was now “well past” that number, still out of reach of Spotify’s 50-million-strong ranks but showing impressive growth.
Apple Music is available on iOS and Android on mobile devices and through iTunes on the Mac.
Why this matters: Ninety-nine cents might not seem like much, but Apple’s lengthy free trial was a notable advantage over its main competitor, Spotify. By charging customers a fee, no matter how nominal, the sign-up process might not be as much of an impulse decision for people, and with Spotify costing the same amount for the same time, would-be Apple Music subscribers might be choosing between the two. The psychology behind free is pretty strong, and it’s surely one of the major reasons behind Apple Music’s tremendous growth.