Beats Music to launch on Jan. 21 with human curation and heavy backing from AT&T

Alex Wagner
Editorial Director of News and Content from Omaha, NE
Published: January 11, 2014

Beats Music devices

Last month we learned that Beats Music would launch sometime in January following months of testing, and now we've got an exact date to circle on our calendars as well as more details on the streaming service's pricing and plan details.

Beats Music will officially launch on Tuesday, Jan. 21, with a plan that will offer unlimited ad-free music streaming for $9.99 per month. The service will see heavy support from AT&T that will enable customers of the big blue carrier to pay for the service with their monthly phone bill as well as access to two exclusive plans: Family plan customers can pay $14.99 per month for 5 Beats Music accounts that will be able to play music on 10 devices, while individuals will have the option of paying $9.99 per month for the same access on three devices. There won't be a free version of Beats Music but free trials will be offered, including a 90-day test period that'll be exclusive to AT&T customers.

When it launches later this month, Beats will be available on Android, iOS, Windows Phone and the web. Users will also be able to download tracks from Beats Music's 20 million-plus song catalog for offline playback. The service will include the usual array of playlist create, recommendations and other amenities. Beats claims that its recommendations will be better than those offered by its competitors, though, because it'll utilize a combination of algorithms and curation from actual people, including guest programmers from Rolling Stone, Rap Radar and Pitchfork.

One unique feature that Beats will offer is called "Right Now." The feature will ask users to name a place, activity, person and genre of music and will then generate a playlist based on those variables. For example, The New York Times entered the sentence "I’m at the beach & feel like pre-partying with my friends to dance-pop" and was given a playlist with music from the Chemical Brothers, Lady Gaga and Janet Jackson.

The streaming music arena already has a number of well-established competitors, including Pandora, Rdio and Spotify. Beats Music feels that its human-supported recommendations will help it to stand out, though, and the fact that the service will receive support from Target, "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and a Super Bowl ad probably won't hurt, either. We'll have to wait until Jan. 21 rolls around to make any judgments about the service, but so far its playlist and recommendation features make it sound pretty intriguing. 

What do you think of Beats Music based on what we know of it so far? Do you plan on checking it out when it launches later this month?

Via The New York Times, Recode, Beats Music, AT&T