75% of the Top 100 tracks in the U.S. and 71% of the Top 100 globally offered in the hi-res streaming format. Hi-res tracks across Apple Music have been noted by fans for weeks, but this is Apple's first acknowledgment of the program.
Apple launched Mastered for iTunes in 2012 with a set of guidelines and free software that enabled producers and engineers to optimize tracks for the download service. Now those tracks are being offered for streaming.
“The audio quality is incredible! The piano is the hardest instrument to get right and this sounds amazing,” said concert pianist Lang Lang. “They sound fucking great!” agreed producer Don Was.
Notably, Apple is not charging extra to stream the tracks.
TIDAL, Deezer and Qobuz offer high resolution streaming at a premium price of $19.99 vs. the typical $9.99 subscription, and Spotify has experimented with the option.
Most observers believed that hi-res music at a higher price could mean additional revenue for artist, labels and the streamers themselves, particularly at a time when average revenue per user is falling as streaming services expand into emerging markets, offer new discounts, and bundle their services with mobile careers at lower monthly fees.