Apple reportedly wants to get rid of free on-demand music

Love free stuff? Then you won’t like Apple’s new music subscription service, which the company is expected to launch later this year. Apple is planning to launch the service without a free tier, and instead plans to charge every user after a limited free trial, according to a Recode report.

That’s similar to Beats Music, which Apple got its hands on as part of the $3 billion Beats acquisition last year. But it’s very different from Spotify, the current industry leader. Spotify has 15 million paying users worldwide, and at least 45 million additional users tune into the service’s free, ad-supported tier.

Spotify’s ad-supported tier has been so successful that competing services have started to embrace free music as well. Rdio, for example, long resisted giving music away for free, but the company now has a free radio service that aims to pull in users, with the goal of eventually converting them into paying subscribers.

However, Recode reports that label executives are increasingly growing frustrated with those free tiers, with some blaming them for the decline in music downloads. Apple wants to counter that trend with a $8 service, which is expected to be closely tied into iTunes and iOS.

Some in the industry would also question that notion, and instead argue that there are simply different price points for different types of users. Rhapsody has been trying to win over budget-conscious users with a $5 radio tier that is essentially like a Pandora without ands, and Deezer has started to charge audiophiles as much as $15 per month for lossless FLAC streams.

Deezer North America CEO Tyler Goldman told me at CES this year that he doesn’t believe in just one package and price for every type of user. Tyler Goldman “That silver bullet strategy doesn’t work,” he said.

Rhapsody now has 2.5 million paying subscribers

Looks like Rhapsody’s carrier deals are starting to pay off: The streaming music service now has 2.5 million paying subscribers around the world, and grew its subscriber base 60 percent over the last year. New numbers released by the company Wednesday also show that 72 percent of subscribers listen to Rhapsody (or Napster, as it is called outside of the U.S.) exclusively on their phone.

Rhapsody has been busy striking deals with carriers like T-Mobile in the U.S. and Telefonica in markets like Germany, Brazil and Chile. In the U.S., the company launched a service dubbed unRadio last year, which is essentially a Pandora-like personalized radio service. unRadio is included with some data plans, and costs $4 per month for all other users.

With these new radio services, Rhapsody is obviously getting much lower revenue per user compared to services like Spotify or Beats that focus on $10 a month subscriptions. The company didn’t elaborate how many of its  new users subscribe to a full-featured music package and how many are on cheaper radio-like service tiers.

However, Rhapsody’s SVP for the Americas Paul Springer told me last year that the goal isn’t to upsell every customer. “I’m perfectly happy with lots of unRadio customers in perpetuity,” he said back in July, adding that the company is looking to offer “a portfolio of products” instead just the one big bundle of music.

Rhapsody adds Chromecast support to its Android app

And the Chromecast (S GOOG) apps keeping coming: Music subscription service Rhapsody added Chromecast support to its Android app this week, making it possible for users to cast any of its 32+ million songs to the TV. Chromecast support also popped up in Rhapsody’s Napster app, which is available in a number of European countries. Rhapsody’s embrace of Chromecast comes just days after Rdio rolled out its support for Google’s streaming stick. Competitor Beats Music has said that it wants to support Chromecast in the future as well, but Spotify is still non-committal.