Music 101: Quality, compatibility, offline listening, and more
How’s the music quality? Apple Music streams songs at 256kbps, which is the same rate as iTunes Match. That’s a bit of a drop from Spotify, which uses a 320kbps bitrate. And competitor Tidal boasts more than just major celebrity endorsements: It offers a high-bitrate option (1411kbps lossless FLAC) at a pricier subscription rate, the “HiFi” tier for $19.99 a month.
Does Apple Music work with Apple’s HomePod? It sure does, but you need an Apple Music subscription to control your music via Siri.
Does Apple Music link with Sonos? Yes! If you have Sonos speakers set up in your home, getting started with Apple Music streaming is easy. Just open the Sonos app and choose “add music services.” Select Apple Music and log in.
Can I save music to listen to offline? Yep! Apple Music lets you save tracks to listen to offline—you can save as many songs as you’d like, as long as your device has space for them.
But remember: You won’t own those files and you won’t be able to offload them anywhere else. You can’t burn them onto a disc, use them in separate video projects, or put them on other devices that aren’t linked to your Apple Music account. If you decide to cancel your Apple Music subscription, you’ll lose access to those songs.
The offline listening feature is a great option if you’re concerned about data overages, or if you know you’ll be in an area without a good wireless connection.
How does Beats 1 differ from iTunes Radio? iTunes Radio takes the Pandora-style approach to radio, where users create their own stations based around songs, artists, albums, or genres, and iTunes serves up songs that flow well around that theme. You can still use a version of iTunes Radio within Apple Music—but it’s now called Apple Music radio stations. However, iTunes Radio stations were built by algorithms, and Apple Music’s radio stations are mostly be hand-built.
Beats 1, on the other hand, is more like a traditional radio station, with a 24/7 live radio stream anchored by three DJs based in New York, Los Angeles, and London. Former BBC personality Zane Lowe is leading the effort from Los Angeles, with Ebro Darden of Hot 97 in New York, and Julie Adenuga in London. Beats 1 features a combination of songs handpicked by these DJs, plus celebrity interviews, pop culture news, and other music-related content.
What’s really neat is that every user around the world hears the same content at the same time, and these stations take a much more curated approach to radio than iTunes Radio does.
Will standalone iTunes Radio remain a free service? Will iTunes Radio stations sponsored by record labels be moving to Apple Music, or will they be dropped? Beats 1 and Apple Music’s radio stations are free to anyone with an Apple ID—though the genre- and artist-based radio stations will be ad-supported and have a limit on song skips. If you created your own stations, they’ll sync over, and you can find them in the Radio tab. However, many of iTunes Radio’s former stations sponsored by record labels have disappeared, so you may be out of luck.
For more, check out our how-to on personalizing your own Apple Music radio stations.
What genres does Beats 1 focus on? Beats 1 doesn’t really focus on one specific genre like traditional AM/FM radio stations do. On any given day, you’ll hear a healthy mix of indie rock, hip-hop, pop, funk, electronic, classic rock, dance music, and more, all artfully woven together in a way that doesn’t sound like a hot mess. DJ Zane Lowe mentioned in the station’s opening remarks that Beats 1 is simply about great music, and it serves as a solid jumping off point for discovery.
The Beats 1 DJs also select one track as their daily World Record, and that song gets played hourly on the half-hour mark. Besides the daily rotation of DJs, Beats 1 includes special programming from other artists as well, like exclusive content and interviews from DJ Khaled.
How do I add songs from Beats 1 to playlists? Heard a song on Beats 1 that’s so good, you know you’ll want to listen to it again? Here’s how to track it.
While listening to Beats 1 or another Apple Music radio station, tap on the song listing at the bottom of the screen, but above the control panel.
A song panel should fill the screen, with cover art, the song and artist names, and player controls. Tap the three-dot button next to the song and artist names.
A task list should appear. One of the tasks is “Add to a Playlist.” Tap that one.
A list of your playlists will appear. Tap the one to which you want to add the song. You’ll see an Added to Playlist pop-up to confirm that the action was performed.
Now, if you go to that playlist (Library > Playlists), you’ll see the song there.
While listening to Beats 1 or another Apple Music radio station, right-click the song in the now playing section at the top of the Music app. Or, move your cursor over the song name in the now playing section, and then click on the three-dot button that appears.
A pop-up menu will appear. Select Add to Playlist.
A list of you playlists will appear. Select the playlist to which you want to add the song, or select New Playlist to start a new playlist. At the bottom of the Music sidebar, an alert will appear to tell you that the song is being added to the playlist.
That’s it. When you click on the playlist in the sidebar, you should see that the song has been added.
Is there a limit to the number of songs you can have in a playlist? Not that we’re aware of! Add away.
How do you tell it what songs you don’t like? When listening to a playlist or radio station, you can skip any song you don’t like (except for in Beats 1, which is live). While this should signal to Apple Music that you don’t want to hear that song or artist again, it might be finicky at times. Alternatively, tap the “heart” icon next to any song you really like.
When a song is playing, how can you go to that artist page, or album? This used to be quite complicated, but Apple has since made it much easier—just tap/click on the artist’s name.
Where do songs or artists show up when you add them to my Library? They automatically appear in the Library tab, where you can sort your collection alphabetically by artist, album, or song title. You’ll also find all of your playlists, and your list of downloaded music saved for offline listening. Scroll down to find your recently added music.
Why is there stuff on the iTunes Store that isn’t on Apple Music? It all comes down to the deals Apple has made with various artists and record labels. Some artists are not interested in streaming services.
What about podcasts? Apple makes podcast available through its Podcasts app on the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
Can I use Apple Music through the web? Yes, there is a web interface. In your web browser, go to music.apple.com. You can log into your account and access you playlists, songs, and more. The web interface is a lot like the Music app for the Mac, and it’s a handy way to access your music when you’re not using one of your own devices. Don’t forget to log off if you’re using computer that others can use.
How do I cancel my free trial subscription before Apple charges my credit card? We have a separate article that details how to cancel your Apple Music and other Apple subscriptions. The article has instructions for cancelling on your iPhone/iPad, Mac, and on the web.