Apple Radio Gives You Three Months Free, But Makes It Hard to Opt Out

Omar Gallaga, digital savant at the Austin American-Statesman, speaks with the Texas Standard’s David Brown about the launch of Apple Radio.

By David BrownJuly 2, 2015 11:30 pm

Remember going to a record store to spend your hard-won allowance on some new vinyl? What about the CD holder you kept in the visor of your car? Some might remember making their iTunes library public, so they could show off their indie taste to the rest of the college dorm. We’re talking the stuff of dodo birds and dinosaurs, here. In fact, the whole notion of purchasing discrete pieces of music is rapidly becoming obsolete… if it hasn’t already. Subscription music streaming apps are now all the rage, and now Apple is joining the ranks of Spotify and Tidal with their newly released Radio app.

Omar Gallaga steps back into the Texas Standard Studio to tell us what’s up with the new app.

“I’m a $10 a month Spotify customer! Once I got use to that format and once I got used to not relying on my own music library and having access to 15 million songs instead of a few thousand, I was pretty much sold… I’ve been a customer ever since,” Gallaga says. “Once you see how much stuff is out there that you don’t own, that you can just play instantly from anywhere, it becomes a pretty big value proposition. Am I going to continue to buy albums for $15 a pop? Or pay $10 a month and get everything?”

Apple Radio launched on Tuesday, and acquired Dr. Dre’s music service, Beats, to help add to their collection. With so many other streaming apps out there, what is Apple bringing to the music market?

“They’re offering a three month free trial to get people into it. Whereas Tidal and some of the other services may offer you a month or free with ads,” Gallaga says. “I think that three months is key. It’s going to give people time to get use to it. To kind of get in the habit of streaming music and get hooked.”

So it’s easy to get in, but what about getting out after the free three months?

“Apple doesn’t make it super easy to opt out of that once you decide to use it,” Gallaga says. “You will get charged $10 a month or $15 for a family account if you don’t specifically tell Apple I don’t want to subscribe every month… but I think a lot of people will forget to do that or they’ll start to like it and say, ‘Eh, I can afford $10 a month.’

How was your Apple Radio experience?

“I downloaded the app and signed up with the desktop version. It’s a little cluttered. It’s trying to combine your library music with the Apple Radio station,” Gallaga says. “It’s trying to feed you stuff it thinks you like. In my case it wasn’t very accurate. It was feeding me albums I don’t really want to listen to. It needs a few more design polishes before it gets there. Spotify, I had the same thing. When I first started using it, it was very overwhelming. There is a bit of a learning curve.”

Is Apple potentially hurting their own iTunes business with this app?

“I think Apple sees the writing on the wall. We’re already starting to see a shift in that market from people paying and downloading mp3 online music to streaming. That’s already happening; that ground is already shifting beneath Apple,” Gallaga says. “I think they’re just seeing we have to be in that market because that’s where the ears are going.”