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Apple finally presses play on music-streaming service


Apple will finally unveil its new streaming music service to take on Spotify at its WWDC event in San Francisco later on Monday.

The company has been working on the move since buying Beats Electronics, the music technology company founded by Dr Dre and music industry veteran Jimmy Iovine, last year.

The Sony Music boss Doug Morris confirmed at the Midem conference in Cannes on Sunday that the Apple launch would take place on Monday.

Apple’s new service is expected to sit alongside its existing iTunes music download store, charging users £10 in the UK or $10 in the US for a monthly subscription for unlimited access to its vast catalogue of music.

The fact that Apple has been negotiating licensing deals with major labels right up to the last minute is not expected to delay the announcement.

Besides Dre, Iovine and Beats Music’s chief creative officer, Trent Reznor (also of rock group Nine Inch Nails), Apple recently hired DJ Zane Lowe and four of his Radio 1 producer colleagues to work on the new service.

Speculation before the announcement suggested that radio-style curated playlists would be a prominent feature, with musicians including Pharrell Williams, Drake and David Guetta also tipped to be contributing as tastemakers.

Apple’s principal rival will be Spotify, the world’s most popular subscription streaming service. The Swedish-headquartered company has 60m active users, including 15m paying subscribers.

Other streaming services include Deezer, Rhapsody, Google Play Music, Tidal and Rdio.

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“If we now get more players into this space, we can increase the growth even faster,” Spotify’s chief executive, Daniel Ek, told the Guardian ahead of the launch.

The Deezer chief executive, Hans-Holger Albrecht, said: “They will help educate the market: it’s good if a big company like Apple moves in: it tends to accelerate understanding in the market and floats every ship upwards.”

Apple will also unveil its latest software update for iPhones and iPads, iOS 9, at WWDC. It is expected to focus on stability improvements, although there will also be new features for Apple’s burgeoning community of app developers to make use of.

“The developer base continues to grow dramatically: more and more developers from a wider range of solutions in a wider geography,” said Apple’s senior vice-president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller.

“It’s incredible how quickly this is all happening. When you start adding this [apps] up, it’s now being measured as an economy. As an industry, this is bigger than Hollywood, which is just unbelievable to think of. And that’s a great industry.”

Apple is also expected to announce changes to its Apple TV service and an expansion of its Apple Pay mobile payments technology.

Launched in the US in October 2014, the contactless payment system enables iPhone and Apple Watch owners to pay for goods and services at bricks and mortar shops.

Apple’s smartwatch will also be prominent at WWDC, with the launch of a software development kit for developers to make full apps that run on the device itself, rather than simply extensions of iPhone apps.

“It’s only been weeks since it [the watch] has been out, so there’s a lot to be figured out,” said Schiller. “We are already up to thousands of applications, but we are really just at the beginning for this.”

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