What Apple can add to the mix
Beats Music as it exists does a great job of combining the "lean-back" style of streaming--the Pandora model, where you start a station or a curated playlist and let 'er rip--and the "lean-forward" style, where you queue up exactly what you want to hear, à la Spotify and Rdio. By adding human curation, Beats can help you find music you might like without you having to do much work. It's pretty great, but the plans 9to5Mac's sources outlined sound even better.
Deep integration into iOS, iTunes, and the Apple TV is a game-changer. I use Rdio on my Mac and my iPhone and stream it to my Apple TV, but the experience is always confined to the Rdio app or web player. iOS integration would let me ask Siri to start an album or a playlist, and hopefully all the apps that tap into the music library on my iPhone--think running apps and DJ apps just for starters--would finally be able to tap into my cloud library, and not just the smattering of tracks I happen to have stored on my device. Many of these apps can already play iTunes Match tracks you have stored in the cloud, but iTunes Match can be finicky to manage and it's still limited, by design, to music you actually own.
Easy streaming in your house and car
And let's not forget about Apple's HomeKit push. As the devices we saw at CES hit the market over the next couple of months, we'll be able to control light and appliances around the house from the iPhone and Apple Watch. If you can summon Siri to turn on your lights anywhere in your house, why not your music?
The piece are already there; for example, we know the Apple TV will be HomeKit's hub. You won't need it to control devices inside your house--you have Bluetooth and your Wi-Fi network for that--but to check up on your smart home gear from outside your home network, the Apple TV will serve as the gateway, an optional hub if you like. Well, great! The Apple TV is a cool device anyway! Usually smart home hubs are just...hubs, so at least this one also streams music and video.
If Apple threw a microphone into the Apple TV and added Siri support, you could summon up Beats Music tracks and playlists. Once proximity support is added to the HomeKit spec, you could have the music that you were listening to on your CarPlay stereo, or in your headphones on the bus, start playing on your home stereo as you walk in the door.
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