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New cars from Fiat Chrysler and VW will come with up to 6 months of free Apple Music

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Two major car manufacturers, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and Volkswagen, announced today they will begin to offer free Apple Music subscriptions of up to six months to customers purchasing new vehicles with CarPlay starting on May 1, 2018. The offers are meant to help boost Apple Music subscribers, and arrive shortly after rival Spotify filed to go public.

In the U.S., FCA will offer customers up to six months free of Apple Music with the purchase of any new Chrysler, Dodge, FIAT, Jeep or Ram vehicle with standard CarPlay support. Customers who are new to Apple Music will receive the full six months free, while existing subscribers will get three months free. (Users receive individual memberships, not family plans.)

The deal runs for a year, ending on April 30, 2019.

FCA customers will then gain access to Apple Music’s 45 million songs and support for BeatsAudio sound, the company says. And with CarPlay, drivers can also make and receive calls and messages, listen to podcasts and audiobooks, get directions or updates on traffic conditions, and more, as usual.

In Europe, Apple has teamed up with Volkswagen for a similar deal. Customers buying  a new VW with CarPlay will also be given six months of Apple Music for free, if a new Apple Music subscriber, or 3 months, if existing.

This is the first time Apple Music has offered deals like this for auto customers, though Apple Music itself offers free trials of three months.

Acquiring music subscribers with a pre-installed service is not something that’s unique to Apple, however. Sirius XM regularly ships with new cars, already switched on for a period of time in order to entice drivers to later convert to paying subscribers. It’s a strategy that often works, but has perhaps an even better chance at succeeding given that Apple is specifically targeting customers who already own Apple products and are participating in its ecosystem.

The Apple Music offers, notably, follow the news of Spotify’s filing to go public.

Both Apple Music and Spotify are targeting customers who would rather pay by subscription for access to on-demand, streaming music, rather than pay for downloads. And it’s a zero-sum game, for the most part. If you choose to pay for Apple Music, you aren’t likely to also pay for Spotify –  and vice versa.

Spotify is currently ahead of Apple Music in terms of paid subscriptions. Its free service today has 159 million monthly active users, while its premium product has 71 million subscribers. That’s nearly double the number of Apple Music paid subscribers, which stands at 36 million global users, according to a February 2018 report from The WSJ.

But Apple has something Spotify doesn’t: its own in-vehicle infotainment platform, CarPlay. And it’s clearly willing to leverage that.

 

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