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Apple Music v Spotify, Pandora, Google Play and Rdio

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Apple unveiled a revamp of its music services on Tuesday with streaming, live radio, curated playlists and social networking to rival the likes of Spotify, Pandora, Rdio and the rest.

With more than two dozen music streaming services available in Australia already, Apple is muscling in on a crowded market. Its claim that its service is "revolutionary" because it "brings the best features" already out there, is confusing at best.

But hey – it's Apple and the ordinary rules of competition don't always apply.

"They have some strange connection with consumers which gives them an elevated chance of success," IBRS analyst Guy Cranswick said.

Take the iPhone 6, for example: despite rational analysis, Apple sold so many of the darn things it actually delivered an economic boost to Australia's retail figures, and Facebook's advertising revenue, according to Mr Cranswick.

So how does Apple Music stack up against some of the music streaming services we're already using?

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Apple Music

Apple's revamped music app includes some curious additions: the Beats1 live internet radio station, broadcast jointly from New York, Los Angeles and London; some recommendation features borrowed from the previous Beats Music platform; advanced music searching from Siri; and Connect, yet another attempt to integrate social networking with music curation by letting users view updates and interact with their favourite artists.

Whether Connect will succeed where Spotify's Follow feature failed may be moot at this stage; Apple's brand clout will have everyone curious to try the generous three-month free trial of Apple Music when it arrives on June 30.

Price: $US9.99 per month (Australian pricing TBA)
Active users: NA
Catalogue: 30+ million songs
Family sharing option: $US14.99 for up to six family members (Australian pricing TBA)
Offline option: Unlimited mobile downloads (we hope – details are scarce)

Spotify

The Swedish king of streaming, Spotify is the go-to for on-demand music. More recently it has enhanced its focus on curated playlists, but rivals like Pandora are arguably better for discovering new sounds.

Price: Free ad-supported tier with shuffle-mode only; premium tier $11.99 per month with free 60-day trial offer until July 5.
Active users: 60 million
​Catalogue: 30+ million songs
Family sharing option: $17.99 to $35.99, up to four extra listeners simultaneously. However Spotify has already indicated it may reduce its pricing on shared accounts to compete with Apple.
Offline option: For saved playlists only

Pandora

US-based Pandora's "music genome project" uses a mix of human analysis and recommendation algorithms to create playlists based around a particular genre or artist. Unlike Spotify, however, you can't listen to a particular album from start to finish.

Price: Free ad-supported tier; Pandora One $US4.99 per month with free one-week trial
Active users: 79.2 million
​Catalogue: 2 million songs
Family sharing option: No
Offline option: No

Google Play Music

A newcomer compared with Spotify or Pandora, Google Play Music has a lot going for it. It has both on-demand and tailored radio station options and can integrate with your iTunes library. Plus, it's an all-you-can eat buffet for digital downloads so you can keep listening offline.

Price: Free tier to access your existing music library in the cloud; $11.99 per month for streaming with 30-day free trial
Active users: Android has more than 1 billion active users, but Google won't disclose how many actually use Play Music
Catalogue: 30 million songs
Family sharing option: No
Offline option: Unlimited mobile downloads

Rdio

Rdio's emphasis is on personalisation and artist discovery. On-demand streaming and tailored radio take a front seat, though there are also curated playlists to choose from. Offers a broad range of price tiers.

Price: Free ad-supported tier; Rdio Select $5.99 per month; Rdio Unlimited $11.99 per month
Catalogue: 32+ million songs
Family sharing option: 50 per cent off standard subscription price for each family member
Offline option: Unlimited mobile downloads (premium tier)

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