Where to get the cheapest music now that Apple is phasing out iTunes

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Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
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Apple is expected to announce Monday that it will start phasing out its iconic iTunes. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

It’s the end of an Apple era.

As streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music vie for customers, Apple












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  is expected to start phasing out its iconic iTunes, the media player platform where users listen to music, watch movies, TV shows and hear podcasts.

The media player, launched in 2001 by Steve Jobs, made it easier for users to legally access music for as low as 99 cents per song for years on iPods and iPhones. At the time, the music industry was struggling with illegal downloads and file-sharing sites. The platform went on to include TV shows and movies, and eventually came out with an algorithm that could build user-preference based playlists.

Currently, Apple Music users can listen to songs they may have already bought from iTunes, so there’s no incentive to do both. Instead, Apple is slated to launch three new separate apps to replace iTunes: Music, TV and Podcasts, the Associated Press reported.

iTunes has become less of a power player in recent years, with the rise of streaming services like Spotify












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 , Pandora SIRI and Google Music












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 . Most services will let users have a free trial instead of individually buying songs, which can cost an average of $1.29 on iTunes, and then start to pay around $10 per month for a variety of songs without ad interruptions.

Apple Music offers users a three-month free trial, and after that it’s $9.99 a month (or $15 for up to six family members). The music and video streaming service boasts more than 50 million paying subscribers, who get access to more than 45 million songs. Apple Music occasionally has exclusive early music releases, like Drake and Future’s surprise album release in 2015, and lets users search for songs by typing in lyrics if they can’t remember the title.

The music industry, including album and concert sales, streaming and downloads, grew 11.9% to nearly $10 billion in 2018, thanks to the explosion of streaming services. Downloads, meanwhile, fell 26% to $1.04 billion compared to $1.4 billion in 2017.

Here are some of the cheapest and easiest ways for music lovers to get their fix now:

Spotify

Price: Free with adds. Users can listen to as many songs as they want on demand for free via a computer or the Spotify app, but you must be willing to put up with a few pesky ads every few songs. A premium subscription costs $10 per month per one user, or $15 per month for up to six family members. Users can test out Spotify Premium for 99 cents for three months.

What you get: Free subscribers and Premium members get access to more than 35 million songs, plus access to podcasts and audiobooks. Free members can travel abroad with their music for up to 14 days, while Premium members get unlimited access anywhere and can listen without an internet connection, unlike free members.

Google Play Music

Price: Free for 30 days. $9.99 per month or $14.99 for a family account with up to six members.

What you get: Google Play Music operates as a streaming music service that lets you store and stream your entire music library of up to 50,000 songs. Users can also stream 30 million songs on tap. Rather than playlists, which have a limited number of songs, Google Play curates radio stations with endless tunes.

Pandora

Price: Streaming Pandora’s radio service is completely free with ads. Pandora Plus is $4.99 per month/$54.89 per year without ads.

What you get: Users can create up to 100 radio stations based on their favorite albums, songs or artists. Advertisements are limited to six song skips per hour per station, enabling users to bypass a song they don’t like. Listeners can rate music by giving it a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.” Pandora Plus ($4.99 per month) is an ad-free subscription service that lets users replay tracks, listen to four radio stations offline, and get higher quality audio.

Amazon Music Unlimited and Prime Music

Price: Amazon Music Unlimited












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  gives users access to 50 million songs, and a free 30-day trial. After that, it’s $9.99 a month. Amazon Prime members, who pay $119 for the year, can get access to Amazon Music Unlimited for an additional $8 per month.

What you get: Both options are ad-free, and users get thousands of hand-picked playlists, personalized stations and if you have a speaker like the Amazon Alexa, you can call out songs you want to hear.



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