Is Apple’s Music App The Same As iTunes? (Explained For Beginners)

It’s easy to see similarities between Apple Music and iTunes, so it’s no surprise that beginners confuse the two Apple products and mistakenly believe they are one and the same.

In this article, we take a look at both Apple Music and iTunes and explain how they are certainly not the same.

Here’s the Main Difference Between Apple Music & iTunes:

Apple Music and iTunes differ greatly in terms of purpose and functionality. iTunes is a multi-media hub integrated with the iTunes Store. Its purpose is to manage media that a user owns. Apple Music is a dedicated music streaming platform that requires a monthly subscription to access the content.

Human finger touch on screen Apple Music App on iOS 8.4 device focused on 'Apple Music' Application icon

4 Differences Between Apple Music & iTunes

If you want to get your head around how two of Apple’s most well-known apps differ, then it’s time to take a look at the hard facts. Despite some similarities, such as the ability to listen to music whilst using either app, there are some striking differences.

We’ve taken the most important differences between the two and compiled them below.

Have a read of our beginner-friendly explanations, and you’ll understand exactly why these two apps are not one and the same.

1. To Stream or to Own? 

The first major difference between iTunes and Apple Music is clear from the outset of use:

  • Apple Music is a service that you pay for with a monthly subscription and then get access to the music and podcast library
  • iTunes is a media store and is completely free to use, but purchases are necessary if you wish to own new content found in the store.

Think of iTunes as a media shopping center and Apple Music as an all-you-can-eat buffet, albeit one that you pay to live at per month.

Apple Music offers different monthly subscription plans ranging from ‘Voice’, ‘Student’, ‘Individual’, and ‘Family’. There are differences between these plans, but one thing remains the same across all of them and that’s access to Apple Music’s content.

By paying a monthly subscription fee, Apple Music users can access music on-demand – and it’s by no means a small selection. In fact, Apple Music has over 100 million tracks to explore and enjoy.

You can simply search for a song and play it – no questions asked and no additional payments.

Once you are an Apple Music subscriber, you can stream whatever music you like and even download the tracks, albums, and playlists you’ve created for offline playback.

However, if you decide to stop paying for your subscription with Apple Music, and you cancel your plan, then access to Apple Music’s content comes to an end.

  • Canceling Apple Music means you can no longer access Apple Music content.
  • Once you stop paying for Apple Music you can no longer listen to the playlists you created.
  • Both your personal library of songs and Apple Music’s entire catalog will be unavailable to stream or download.
  • Any previously downloaded content from Apple Music will be inaccessible on your device.
  • Once your subscription to Apple Music is canceled all of your saved music will be removed.

iTunes requires no subscription. Access to all of iTunes features is free for all users and users only need to part with money if they wish to purchase content from the iTunes store.

The iTunes store allows users to search for the content that they are missing from their own personal libraries, purchase that content, and then own it forever.

You cannot stream music using iTunes, but you can play the music you own and purchase the music that you don’t.

Remember, with Apple Music, it is not possible to own any music, but instead, you have access to it whilst you are paying for your subscription. It’s possible to sign up for a free trial with Apple Music, but once that trial comes to an end, you will need to start paying monthly installments to retain access to the service.

iTunes has always been free to use, requires no monthly subscription, and allows you to make purchases to own the content you want.

2. iTunes is a Multi-Media App & Apple Music is a Home Solely for Songs

It’s impossible to talk about the differences between Apple Music and iTunes without addressing how these two apps differ in terms of content.

iTunes is an app that allows you to manage more than just music. In fact, iTunes offers, as rightly points out:

“(…) a plethora of media resources including music, movies, TV Shows, Podcasts, Radio, etc. for download and purchase.”


iTunes, therefore, is a multi-purpose media hub that allows users to both manage and access their entire media collections. Moreover, as previously mentioned, the iTunes store allows users to add to their library of content by purchasing more of what they love and owning it outright.

This is not the case when it comes to Apple Music. As the name suggests, Apple Music is all and only about music. You cannot stream, download, or purchase other media content, such as movies or TV shows.

3. iTunes is a Media Management Tool, Whereas Apple Music Allows for a Personal Library

iTunes users will come to understand quickly that the app is a helpful tool for keeping things organized.

iTunes, and its ability to manage media in all its forms, gives users an easy way to store and select the content they own.

This means that iTunes becomes a media hub that offers the opportunity to keep all and any digital entertainment in one place.

Apple Music, on the other hand, gives its users to add music to their personal library and even create personalized playlists, but that’s where management ends.

It’s not possible to access all of your digital content from the Apple Music app, and although there is a way to import the music you own in iTunes to Apple Music, your films and TV shows cannot be incorporated.

iTunes ‘all media in one place’ factor is key for users who want to move their collection and sync it with other devices, such as computers and other Apple devices.

4. Apple Music is a Social App & is Geared to Help you Discover More Music

Apple Music was Apple’s answer to compete with the likes of Spotify, and it gave Apple its foothold in the world of online music streaming.

Apple Music differentiates itself from iTunes by being an app that offers users a similar experience to Spotify.

In order to make a great music streaming app, Apple Music had to incorporate features that iTunes did not have; namely – the way to access the musical taste of others and to help users discover new music.

  • Apple Music allows users to make a profile which allows the user’s friends to see what music they love listening to.
  • Users can choose to follow friends and keep up with their changing musical tastes.
  • Users can see what friends are listening to track by track.
  • Users can also share their playlists with each other.

Apple Music brings a social element to the music experience via its app. This is something that separates iTunes and Apple Music apart and allows Apple Music users to potentially find out about music through their friends.

Moreover, Apple Music gives users the ability to discover even more new music via specially created playlists that are made for users on a regular basis.

Users can find these curated playlists and quality recommendations in the ‘Made for You’ section in the Apple Music app.

These features and more are what make Apple Music specifically designed to take users on a musical journey and dig deeper into their personal musical tastes. iTunes was not created for this purpose and therefore lacks this ability.

Why Did Apple Discontinue iTunes?

First, it’s important to note that iTunes is still available for Windows users and can still be used to manage and organize your media collection.

However, iTunes has most definitely been phased out and, as of the launch of CatalinaOS and beyond, Apple users will find that iTunes is no longer an option. So, it sometimes may seem that iTunes has died.

The reason for this is Apple’s decision to separate media into distinct and dedicated apps – Apple Music being one of them. Here’s what you need to know about where your media will find its new home:

  • The Apple Music app will be the place for all of your music content, including music from iTunes.
  • Anything watchable will now be found in the Apple TV app.
  • If you’re a podcast lover, then you’ll find that podcasts are now within the Apple Podcasts app.
  • For all your audiobook needs, you’ll want to launch the Apple Books app. Here you’ll find all your previously purchased books from iTunes.

Once users upgrade to CatalinaOS, they’ll find that in each app, whether it be Apple Music or Apple TV, the content from their iTunes library will be imported to their new home.

This diversification of apps allows Apple to offer a better user experience. By giving users apps that are specifically designed for a certain type of media, these apps surpass iTunes in terms of functionality and features.

One key aspect of iTunes that users really loved was iTunes’ ability to manage media across multiple devices; however, Apple has streamlined this process too.

Instead, users can simply use the ‘Finder’ now, as Apple explains:

“Finder is the new place to back up, update or restore your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Just connect your device to your Mac and it will appear in the Finder sidebar. And you can drag and drop files to your device easily.”


iTunes may have been discontinued and yet, the libraries that users have created still exist and are found in apps that serve them better. Moreover, users still retain the ability to manage their media in a simple and straightforward way.

Will your Songs from iTunes be Available on Apple Music?

If you want to access your iTunes songs from the Apple Music app, then the first thing to do is subscribe to Apple Music.

Once you’ve signed up to Apple Music, it’s time to use the ‘Library Sync’ feature:

  1. Launch the Music app on your Mac computer.
  2. Select ‘Music’ followed by ‘Preferences’
  3. Click on ‘General’ and then choose ‘Sync Library’
  4. Access your ‘Settings’ on your iOS device.
  5. Tap ‘Music’.
  6. Tap ‘Sync Library’

This is not the only way you can get access to your iTunes songs, but it is the simplest. However, as mentioned, it will cost you a monthly subscription to Apple Music.

If you don’t think that Apple Music is for you could try using iTunes Match, which only costs $25 per annum. Now, if that sounds like a better option to you, then follow the steps below to get started:

  1. Launch the Music app on your Mac computer.
  2. Click ‘iTunes Store’ found within the sidebar.
  3. Scroll down to select ‘iTunes Match’, which will appear in ‘Features’
  4. Subscribe to iTunes Match and then use the ‘Library Sync’ instructions listed above.


Difference between iTunes and Apple Music

What Happened to iTunes?

iTunes Is Dead. Here’s What Happened to Your Music Library

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