Apple Music VS iTunes Store

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The Differences between Apple Music and iTunes Store

On Windows or macOS (up to Mojave 10.14.6), iTunes is an online store where you can purchase songs, movies, TV shows and audiobooks. iTunes is the default management software or syncing tool for iPhone, iPad and iPod. iTunes is the downloader where you can download Apple Music songs and purchased songs from iTunes Store to your computer for offline playback. iTunes can also convert MP3, M4A, WAV and AIFF audio files to each, rip Audio CD and add to iTunes library, burn audio files to audio CD or MP3 CD, back up or restore your iPhone/iPad data, etc. It's hard to find a software program that is as complicated as iTunes.

On macOS Catalina 10.15 or later, iTunes was divided into 4 separated apps which are Music app, Videos app, Podcasts app and Books app. Your music, videos, podcasts, and audiobooks are organized into these apps respectively. In these apps, you can also access your purchased items from iTunes Store.

Now, we have two ways to get songs and enjoy music from Apple company, which are iTunes Store and Apple Music. However, we use iTunes to access to both iTunes Store and Apple Music, which sometimes may cause confusion.

iTunes Store

In this article, we will introduce the common points and differences between iTunes Store and Apple Music. If you don't have much time to read the long article, you can also go to comparison chart to learn the differences in brief. Besides, we will also introduce AudGeek AppliTune Converter, a wonderful Apple Music Converter which can convert Apple Music songs to unprotected M4A format, which is the file format of the songs you purchased and downloaded from iTunes Store.

Part 1. iTunes Store: What Can You Do with iTunes Store

When using iTunes on Windows or macOS up to Mojave 10.14.6, you can access to both iTunes Store and Apple Music. Both iTunes Store and Apple Music are only a part of iTunes. Let's check what iTunes Store provides first.

iTunes Store on Windows

iTunes Store is not integrated in a single section. When using iTunes, you can access to five different media sections including Music, Movies, TV Shows, Podcasts and Audiobooks. Once you launch iTunes, you can access to these sections from the drop-down list in the upper left. No matter which media section you enter, you will find a Store tab in the top middle.

iTunes Store

Music: From iTunes music store, we can purchase songs or albums. Depending on the artist and the song, you may need to pay $0.69, $0.99, $1.29 or $1.99 to purchase a song. If you buy the entire album, you may save lots of money than buying the songs individually. Once you purchase a song in iTunes Store, you can download an unprotected 256kbps M4A. You can copy your purchased songs to all you devices for offline playback as well as use as background music in different software programs and apps.

Movies: From iTunes movie store, you can either purchase movies or rent movies. The purchased movies are in protected M4V format, it can be only played on authorized PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Apple TV and can't be played on Android devices. You can also rent some movies at a lower price, you can keep the rental movies for 30 days if you haven't watched it, once you start watching, you can hold 48 hours and within the period, you can watch it repeatedly as you like. Video quality is available in SD, 720P HD and 1080P HD.

iTunes Movie Store

TV Shows: From iTunes TV shows store, you can purchase TV shows. Similar to iTunes movies, TV shows are also protected M4V files, support same devices and video quality as movies. TV shows can't be rented, but there are some free episodes you can download directly, usually they are trailers or first episode for entire seasons.

Podcasts: From iTunes podcast store, you can access to millions of shows completely free. It might be the place to learn some professional knowledge. And some publishers offer premium shows, episodes, and channels that can be purchased through a monthly or annual subscription.

Audiobooks: From iTunes audiobook store, you can purchase audiobooks and enjoy on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The audiobooks are in protected M4B format and can't be played on Android devices or normal MP3 players. You can import Audible AA/AAX audiobooks into iTunes and sync to iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch as well.

Obviously, iTunes Store is not limited to music only. It's an all-in-one online media store where you can buy songs, movies, TV shows, podcasts and audiobooks, as well as rent movies. However, except for downloaded M4A songs, all your purchases and rentals are associated with your Apple ID, you need to log in your Apple ID to authorize your device first in order to play these protected items.

iTunes Store on macOS

On macOS Catalina 10.15 or later, iTunes is split into 4 apps which are Music app, Videos app, Podcasts app and Books app. Apple Music app includes both Apple Music and iTunes music store, Videos app is for movies and TV shows and there is no need to describe Podcasts app or Books app. If you have used iTunes macOS version before, you will soon get familiar with these apps.

There is one thing we need to mention. When using Apple Music app, some users may find iTunes Store is not listed in the left sidebar. This is because Apple may want more users to use Apple Music instead of iTunes Store. iTunes Store isn't gone, it's just hidden by default settings. To show or enable iTunes Store, you can go to menu bar, click "Music" > "Preferences" > "General" tab, go to "Show" section and check "iTunes Store" and click OK button to apply, then you can purchase songs and albums like before.

Show iTunes Store in Music app

Part 2. Apple Music: A Wonderful Streaming Music Service

Some years ago, the most popular way to enjoy music is to purchase Audio CD or online digital music download. However, streaming music services like Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, Tidal, etc. come to our sight one by one. The biggest benefit of streaming music services is that you can listen to millions of songs by paying a relatively small monthly or annual fee.

Apple Music was launched on June 30, 2015 and now its service is available in more than 100 countries. According to market share research, currently Apple Music has won 15% of streaming music market which is the second place after Spotify and followed by Amazon Music. Apple has been gradually enlarging its music library, its available regions and supported devices. In October 2022, Apple Music celebrated the milestone of 100 million songs and it's available on iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple TV, Apple Watch, Android phones, Android tablets, Samsung TV, PS5, Xbox One/Series X/Series S, etc. and can be played by smart speakers like Apple HomePod, Amazon Echo, Google Home, Sonos and more.

Apple Music For You

Apple Music provides 1-month free trial to all new users or 6-month free trial with the purchase of eligible audio devices including AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, Beats and HomePod. Apple provides 4 flexible plans as below. Check the features of different plans below.

Apple Music Plan Voice Student Individual Family
Price $4.99/month $5.99/month $10.99/month or $109/year $16.99/month
100 million songs Yes Yes Yes Yes
More than 30,000 expert-curated playlists Yes Yes Yes Yes
Request any song, album, playlist, or station simply by asking Siri Yes Yes Yes Yes
Free trial with no commitment Yes Yes Yes Yes
Stream ad-free music Yes Yes Yes Yes
Original shows, concerts, and exclusives Yes Yes Yes Yes
Live and on-demand radio stations hosted by artists Yes Yes Yes Yes
Available on Apple devices Yes Yes Yes Yes
Works with Type to Siri Yes Yes Yes Yes
Available on other supported devices   Yes Yes Yes
Spatial audio with Dolby Atmos   Yes Yes Yes
Full catalog in lossless audio   Yes Yes Yes
Lyrics view   Yes Yes Yes
Download 100,000 songs to your library   Yes Yes Yes
Access your entire library from any device and listen online or off   Yes Yes Yes
See what your friends are listening to   Yes Yes Yes
Unlimited access for up to six people       Yes
Personal music library for each family member       Yes
Personalized music recommendations for each family member       Yes
Apple Music Plan Voice Student Individual Family

On Windows, Apple Music only provides 256kbps AAC audio quality. On macOS Big Sur 11.6 or later, in addition to 256kbps AAC, you can enjoy Apple Music in lossless or hi-res lossless. However, enjoying Apple Music lossless or hi-res lossless also requires better playback device. You can launch Music app, go to menu bar "Music" > "Preferences" > "Playback" to adjust Apple Music audio quality. If you are using macOS old version, you may need to upgrade your macOS to latest version first.

Part 3. The Differences between iTunes Music Store and Apple Music

From the introduction above, we know iTunes Store provides different media files and online digital music download is only a part of iTunes Store. We can enjoy music from Apple company in two ways, which are iTunes Store and Apple Music.

You can purchase and download songs from iTunes Store as well as subscribe and download Apple Music songs, all the downloaded songs from iTunes Store and Apple Music, as well as MP3, M4A, WAV or AIFF files you imported from other sources will be listed in library. You can also add any songs in library to your favorite playlist regardless of their sources. Both iTunes Store M4A songs and Apple Music AAC songs are encoded in 256kbps AAC codec. Apart from these common points, there are much more different points between them.

1. Supported devices

Apple Music songs can be played on authorized devices including iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple TV, Android phones, Android tablets, Samsung TV, PS5, Apple Watch, etc. and can be played with smart speakers like Apple HomePod, Amazon Echo, Google Home and Sonos, Apple Music songs can't be played on iPod Nano/Shuffle, MP3 players or other incompatible devices. iTunes Store M4A songs can be played on all Apple Music supported devices, besides, it can also be played on iPod Nano/Shuffle/Classic, Sony Walkman, MP3 players from different manufactures and many other devices like Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, PSP and more.

2. File extension & DRM protection

Apple Music songs are DRM protected, while iTunes Store M4A songs are unprotected *.m4a files. On Windows, downloaded Apple Music songs are *.m4p files, however, on macOS, they could be *.m4p files when using AAC audio quality, or *.movpkg files when using lossless or hi-res lossless audio quality. You can open iTunes Media folder and open Apple Music folder, then open album or artist folder to confirm the file extension of downloaded Apple Music songs.

Apple Music and iTunes M4A file extension

3. Audio quality

iTunes Store M4A songs are 256kbps AAC audio files while Apple Music M4P songs are also 256kbps AAC files as well. However, Apple Music is now available in lossless or hi-res lossless. Apple Music lossless can be up to 24-bit/48kHz resolution while hi-res lossless can be up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution. Both Apple Music lossless and hi-res lossless is better than CD quality which is 16-bit/44.1kHz.

4. Ownership & usage

M4A songs you purchased from iTunes Store are your personal possessions. Even if your hard drive died or you have uninstalled iTunes, you can reinstall iTunes to download your purchased songs again. You can use purchased *.m4a songs in video/audio editing projects smoothly.

As to Apple Music songs, you can only play them on authorized devices within your valid subscription period, once you unsubscribe the membership and your subscription expires, all Apple Music songs and playlists will disappear from music library. Apple Music songs can be only played within iTunes or Music app, and they can't be used in or imported to any video/audio editing programs or apps.

5. Playable songs

Most songs are available in both Apple Music and iTunes Store. However, some songs are only available in Apple Music and some are only in iTunes Store. It depends on artist's choices.

Part 4. Comparison chart: Apple Music VS iTunes Store

We have summarized the differences between Apple Music and iTunes Store as below. This can help you to learn the differences quickly.

Compared items Apple Music iTunes Store
Type Streaming music subscription Digital music download
Price Monthly or annual fee (Cheap) Vary by songs and albums (Expensive)
File extension *.m4p (AAC) or *.movpkg (lossless or hi-res lossless on macOS) *.m4a
Audio quality 256kbps (AAC) or CD quality or above (lossless or hi-res lossless on macOS) 256kbps (AAC)
Videos Music videos Movies & TV shows
DRM protection Yes No
Ownership No Yes
Podcasts No Yes
Audiobooks No Yes
Play on iPod Nano/Shuffle & MP3 player No Yes
Play on iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch Yes Yes
Play on Apple TV & Samsung TV Yes Yes
Play on PS5 & Xbox One/Serise X/S Yes Yes
Play on smart speakers Yes Yes
Play on Android devices Yes Yes
Play on web browsers Yes No
Play on other devices No Yes
Use as background music or audio source No Yes
Compared items Apple Music iTunes Store

Note: If you want to unsubscribe Apple Music but you want to keep the downloaded Apple Music songs, or you want to enjoy Apple Music songs on iPod Nano/Shuffle or other devices, or you want to use Apple Music songs as background music in your video/audio editing projects, you can convert the Apple Music songs to MP3/M4A/WAV with Apple Music converters like AudGeek AppliTune Converter before your subscription expires. If you convert Apple Music songs to M4A, you will get the *.m4a files just like you purchase them from iTunes Store because audio quality and ID3 tags will be kept.

Part 5. AudGeek AppliTune Converter: Useful & Powerful Apple Music to M4A Converter

AudGeek AppliTune Converter is a professional Apple Music converter which can convert Apple Music songs to M4A, MP3, WAV, etc. It comes with user-friendly interface, fast conversion speed, high-quality output files and flexible options. With this tool, converting Apple Music protected AAC (*.m4p) songs to unprotected AAC (*.m4a) songs is much easier like never before.

AppliTune Converter AudGeek AppliTune Converter: Convert Apple Music to M4A

AudGeek AppliTune Converter is an ideal software solution which can easily strip the protection and losslessly convert Apple Music 256kbps M4P songs to 256kbps M4A for offline playback.

  • Convert Apple Music songs, albums and playlists to M4A (unprotected AAC) at 20X faster speed.
  • Convert Apple Music to M4A with a built-in web player without iTunes or Music app.
  • Keep music information like title, album, artist, track number and artwork in output M4A files.
  • Rename converted M4A files by title, album, artist, track number, hyphen, space, etc.
  • Sort converted M4A files into album, artist, album/artist or artist/album folders as you like.

Before purchasing, we highly recommend you download the free trial version to have a test first. The free trial version can only convert 3 files at a time and can only convert 3 minutes for each file. If you are satisfied with the features and output files, you can purchase a license to get a registration code to unlock the limitations and enjoy all wonderful features.

If you want to know how to convert Apple Music to MP3 or convert Apple Music to M4A, you can check the useful guides below. After converting Apple Music songs to M4A, you can add them to your iTunes music library. Though you didn't purchase the M4A songs from iTunes Store, but you can simply get the same M4A files by conversion just like that you have purchased them from iTunes Store.